After a strong start to the season, the Carolina Panthers fell apart late in 2021, stumbling to a woeful 5-12 record. However, despite the disappointing final record, several players still had impressive seasons. With that in mind, let’s hand out some awards and see which players stood out the most in the past year.
Carolina Panthers 2021 Season Team Awards
Most Valuable Player: D.J. Moore
Far and away the best player on the offense, D.J. Moore has the raw talent to be a top 10-15 receiver in this league if the team ever figured out the quarterback position. Appearing in all 17 games, the former first-round pick finished the season with 93 receptions for 1,157 yards and four touchdowns. He did all this despite being the clear focal point of the offense and having to deal with Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and the corpse of Cam Newton under center. Moore deserves better, and hopefully, Carolina can bring in a real quarterback in the coming months.
Free D.J. Moore pic.twitter.com/mva0Ily2GZ
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) January 4, 2022
Offensive Player of the Year: D.J. Moore
Typically, the Offensive Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player are two different people. However, there is nobody else that comes close to being as good as Moore on the offensive side of the ball. Christian McCaffrey missed the vast majority of the season, so that takes him out of the running.
The quarterback position was an absolute disaster, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall couldn’t do much of anything at receiver, the tight ends were underwhelming, and the offensive line might have been the worst unit in the league. Moore was literally the only sign of life on the offense throughout the year, and it wouldn’t be fair to give this award to anyone else.
Defensive Player of the Year: Brian Burns
While the offense might have been painful to watch, the Panthers actually put together a good defense in 2021, and they couldn’t have done it without Brian Burns. Earning his first career trip to the Pro Bowl, the former first-round pick finished the season with nine sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and 18 quarterback hits. While nobody’s confusing him with T.J. Watt or Myles Garrett, he is one of the better young edge rushers in football and should be a key fixture along this defensive line for a long time.
Not blocking Brian Burns is a bold strategy. pic.twitter.com/MCwIVt467Z
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 12, 2021
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Chuba Hubbard
Christian McCaffrey he’s not, but Chuba Hubbard did an admirable job filling in for the former All-Pro. Making 10 starts while appearing in all 17 games, the Oklahoma State product finished the season with 612 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 172 carries while adding another 25 receptions for 174 yards and a score. While the efficiency wasn’t great, it’s definitely worth noting that Hubbard had to run behind a truly atrocious offensive line. While he is probably not a starting-caliber runner, he’s a great backup and can fill in at a moments notice.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jaycee Horn
Injury limited Jaycee Horn to just three games in 2021, but what he showed during his limited time on the field made his a clear choice for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Earning a starting job right out of the gate, the cornerback finished the season with a 67.8 PFF grade, which would have been 37th in the league if he had enough snaps to qualify. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to learn, and considering he was playing so well that early into his career is a great sign for his future. If the Panthers can retain Stephon Gilmore, then they could have one of the best cornerback duos in football next year.
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