There is no race for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. With his 13 sacks, league-leading 20 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles, Dallas Cowboys man-child Micah Parsons might not only be the best defensive rookie in the NFL, he might be the best on his side of the ball period.
The run for NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year is far more contentious. It’s a two-horse race between the New England Patriots‘ Mac Jones and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase. There are some very strong opinions for both men.
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ESPN Analyst is Team Mac Jones for Rookie of the Year
At one point in the year–especially during the Patriots’ seven-game win streak–it appeared Jones was running away with the award. However, a massive close to the season has many changing their tunes in favor of Chase.
The Bengals dynamic young receiver has 79 receptions, 1,429 yards and 13 TDs on the season. He also just lit the Kansas City Chiefs’ secondary on fire in Week 17 with a season-high 11 catches for 266 yards and 3 TDs. It was his second 200-yard performance of the season.
Even with Chase’s recent heroics, former quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said this on ESPN First Take:
“It’s still Mac Jones. He’s played better than I anticipated him playing. Now, what Ja’Marr Chase has done has been obnoxious, and (his performance Sunday) was absolutely outrageous. But I think the body of work by Mac Jones, taking over that football team and getting better and better. (He has) 21 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, a QBR over 95, over 3,500 passing yards on an offense that is run-dominant and doesn’t have a difference-maker as a weapon. There are some good pieces, but a difference-maker?”
Those are interesting takes, but it seems Orlovsky is favoring a QB over a WR simply based on the scope of their jobs. This is a common issue in football when it comes to gauging player greatness. This thought process leads to almost every position besides quarterback being undervalued and sold short in awards discussions where signal-callers can be considered.
“I think because of the performance over the course of the season — we’ve seen two poor performances from Mac Jones,” Orlovsky continued. “Because of that, I say he’s the rookie of the year. The guy that touches the ball every single play. He’s very rarely hurt his football team. They’ve asked a lot of (Jones). Ja’Marr has been spectacular — I was wrong about who Cincinnati should’ve drafted — but Mac Jones is the rookie of the year.”
You can see the entire segment in the video below.
The Athletic’s Analyst is Team Chase for Rookie of the Year
Hold the Mac Jones ceremony.
The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen took to Twitter to definitively state his case for Chase as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He tweeted: “There should be no question.”
Nguyen called Chase a “superstar at his position”–which is tough to argue–but he then labels Jones an “average QB.” That might be a bit too harsh for a player in his first year at the toughest position in professional sports.
Jones should continue to get better. Is his ceiling as high as a guy like Justin Fields or even Trevor Lawrence? Probably not, but he’s played better than every other rookie quarterback this season.
A lot of that has to do with him landing in the best situation compared to the others, but he’s still been steady at the helm of a 10-win team that is headed for the playoffs.
Chase deserves the Offensive Rookie of the Year, no argument there, but Jones should get a little more respect on his name from Nguyen and anyone else ready to dismiss him as nothing more than an “average QB.”
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