Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley take RJ NFL awards at season halfway point

The 2018 NFL year has reached the halfway point and many players are having sensational seasons.

Here are NFL writer Gilbert Manzano’s award winners after eight weeks:

Most Valuable Player

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

It’s wild to think how much skepticism there was after the Chiefs decided to trade Alex Smith and hand the keys to Mahomes.

The decision was proven right after September and it continues to pay off at a high rate heading into November.

Mahomes leads the league in passing yards (2,526) and touchdown passes (26) and he’s fourth with a 115.3 quarterback rating.

The biggest concern with Mahomes heading into the season was his aggressive approach could lead to many interceptions. He only has six interceptions and is averaging 8.86 yards per completion, fifth best in the league.

His strong arm is the perfect fit for the Chiefs’ offense that consists of speed demons Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

But Mahomes has proven he can do more than just throw deep. He’s able to make the right reads on the run to move the chains with tight ends Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt.

No defense in the league has figured out how to slow down a Chiefs offense that is averaging a league-high 36.3 points per game.

Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

Remember J.J. Watt? The beast from Houston is all the way back.

After suffering a broken leg and a herniated disk to cut his past two seasons short, Watt has regained his dominant form and is contention to win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award.

Watt had a slow start to the year, but has played like the best defensive player in the league in the past month, and it’s no surprise why the Texans have won five straight games.

Watt is second in the NFL in sacks with eight and is tied for first in forced fumbles with four. Watt is back to steamrolling offensive linemen and commanding double teams, which has freed Jadeveon Clowney.

Watt is also the front-runner to win the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Offensive Player of the Year

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

Shame on you if you were mad at Gurley for not crossing the end zone last week against the Packers.

He’s made plenty of money for Rams backers and scored a ton for his fantasy owners. Gurley made the right move by opting to run out the clock.

The explosive running back for the 8-0 Rams has made all the right decisions this season. Gurley is primed to win his second consecutive Offensive Player of the Year award and don’t count him out for MVP.

Gurley leads the league in rushing yards (800), rushing touchdowns (11), total touchdowns (15) and all-purpose yards (1,151).

Coach of the Year

Andy Reid, Chiefs

Everyone knows what Reid has done with the Chiefs’ offense. He’s been one of the best playcallers of the past 15 years, and this year might be his best job. But Reid has the entire team playing well.

Not many dared to pick the Chiefs as Super Bowl representatives because of their poor defense. The defense has been respectable in recent weeks. The play of Chris Jones, Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Breeland Speaks has given Kansas City one of the top front sevens.

Don’t count out the Chiefs against the Patriots if they meet in January.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants

Somehow Barkley has managed to have a memorable rookie year behind an anemic offense led by quarterback Eli Manning.

Barkley is being compared to Barry Sanders because of his dynamic plays on the field. But he’s also built like Adrian Peterson. The Penn State product can do it all.

Barkley is ranked second in yards from scrimmage (1,016), eighth in rushing yards (519) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (5).

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Darius Leonard, LB, Colts

The Colts probably landed the steal of the 2018 draft with the second-round selection of Leonard out of South Carolina State.

He leads the NFL in combined tackles with 88 and has recorded four sacks with three forced fumbles. It’s been a long time since the Colts have had an enforcer like Leonard.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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