The 12th annual NFL Honors took place Thursday night in Phoenix, Arizona, with the Super Bowl just three days away over at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
And the two New York squads, while not participating in the Big Game, shined on stage.
The Jets swept the Rookie of the Year Awards, with cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson winning the Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year, respectively.
Gardner was essentially a lock to win the defensive award. The fourth overall pick in last year’s draft was a star from the get-go, leading a revamped Jets secondary that finished the regular season third in the NFL with only 189.4 passing yards allowed per game.
While the young buck finished with only a pair of interceptions, Gardner led the NFL with 20 pass breakups and allowed quarterbacks to complete just 53.5% of passes for 452 yards, one touchdown, and a lowly 62.7 passer rating when targeting him. The 22-year-old’s efforts earned him a Pro Bowl nod, a spot on the AP All-Pro first team, and this prestigious award.
On the other hand, Wilson put together a spectacular first season despite poor quarterback play and play-calling from now-former Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
The 2022 No. 10 overall draft pick out of Ohio State finished the year with 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns, leading the team in each category.
Even with the struggles of Zach Wilson (and Mike White and Joe Flacco), Wilson was sensational and has provided that receiver room, which certainly deserves better assistance, with great hope for the future.
And then, there was the Coach of the Year, awarded to none other than the Giants‘ Brian Daboll.
Daboll was hired in January 2022 and entered an absolute dumpster fire, to say the least. The Giants were coming off a four-win season and had just fired former head coach Joe Judge. Plus, there was the whole “retirement” of former general manager Dave Gettleman, who was at the helm of one of the worst eras of Giants football. The roster was in shambles, the team was in shambles, and the organization was in shambles.
But Daboll played a massive role in what was an even bigger turnaround. The Giants defied all odds, finished the season at 9-7-1, and reached the postseason. It was their first winning season and playoff appearance in six years. Big Blue proceeded to win its first playoff game since Super Bowl 46 over the Vikings before losing in the Divisional Round to the Eagles.
No, the Giants aren’t playing this Sunday. No one expected them to. But no one expected them to win nine games or make the playoffs, two major accomplishments Daboll did with a lackluster roster and a quarterback everyone wrote off just six months ago.
Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny