Kansas City Chiefs 2021 Season Awards

Chiefs 2021 Season
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Another year, another superb Kansas City Chiefs season. While the beginning of the year started off slow and some seemed to count them out, the Chiefs 2021 season has culminated in hosting the AFC Championship Game for the fourth year in a row. Seemingly in the beginning stages of another AFC dynasty, Kansas City won nine of their final 10 regular-season games. That lone loss? To the very Cincinnati Bengals team that they’re hosting for a shot to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI.

Kansas City Chiefs 2021 Season Team Awards

Most Valuable Player (and Offensive Player of the Year): Patrick Mahomes

Hands down, the best overall player during this Chiefs 2021 season was none other than Patrick Mahomes III. From his command to the offense to his SportsCenter no-look passes, Mahomes continues to play at the highest level in the NFL. Even though he may not be in contention for the league-wide MVP award, Mahomes willed his team to a 12-5 record after starting 3-4.

Headlines were plastered with takes such as, “Has the NFL figured out Patrick Mahomes?” after that weak seven-week start. Mahomes was passing for a shade under 300 yards per game and threw a total of 18 touchdowns. On the other side, he was turning the ball over at an extremely high rate throwing nine interceptions and losing two fumbles.

Since then? His passing yards have actually dropped to about 275 per game and has scored 19 touchdowns. Only four times did Mahomes throw an interception and he lost two fumbles. He finished the season with 37 touchdowns off of 4,839 passing yards and a 66.3% completion rate. On the year, Mahomes finished fourth in both yards and passing touchdowns. 2021 was a “down” year for Mahomes. When you’re consistently one of the best to ever do it, is that saying much?

Defensive Player of the Year: Tyrann Mathieu

The top defender for the Chiefs 2021 season was the Honey Badger himself, Tyrann Mathieu. It was a close battle between Mathieu, Chris Jones, and Bolton, but the safety took advantage of primacy bias and continued his high rate of play.

Week 1 against Baltimore, Mathieu intercepted Lamar Jackson twice and took one back to the house in a 36-35 loss. On the year, Mathieu pulled in a total of three interceptions and broke up an additional six. In terms of stat sheet productivity, 2021 was not his strongest. But that’s due to the fact he had fewer opportunities. Over the previous three years (two in KC, one in Houston), Mathieu averaged four interceptions off of an average of 75 targets. In 2021, he was targeted just 52 times. Respect for him resulted in fewer opportunities. He also ended the year with the second-most tackles on the team with 76.

Comeback Player of the Year: Melvin Ingram III

Foe turned friend. After spending so much time wrecking the Chiefs offense with the Chargers, Melvin Ingram found his way to Kansas City by way of a trade from the Steelers. Considering KC gave up $15 and a random left shoe they found on the street for him, it’s safe to say this one on of the biggest trade steals of the 2021 season.

He was a ghost in Pittsburgh, recording just one sack. The most damning part of his time as a Steeler was the fact that he played 100% of their snaps in Week 2 against that offensive line in Cincinnati and recorded three tackles and wasn’t anywhere near Burrow.

Fast forward to Kansas City, Ingram is now a starter and takes advantage of teams focusing on Chris Jones. Just two sacks, but he affects the game in a way that helps Jones continue to dominate offensive lines.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Creed Humphrey

With all of this talk about skill positions and quarterbacks winning the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, why not feature the only rookie offensive player on first-team PFF’s All-Pro Team? Both Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith were able to step in and help the Chiefs much-maligned offensive line on day one.

On the year, Creed Humphrey earned a 91.4 PFF grade and allowed all of one sack as a 17-game starter. Right off the bat, Humphrey has a case to be one of the best at his position. He had a 1.3% pressure rate as a pass blocker and earned a 92.5 run-blocking grade. Humphrey has been one the best rookies in the NFL at any position. While he won’t win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, he helped the Chiefs 2021 season and is easily their Rookie of the Year.

Defensive Rookie of the Year (and Most Improved): Nick Bolton

Whether you are a casual watcher of the Chiefs or a die-hard, you know Nick Bolton‘s name. In his 16 regular-season games, he wasn’t held off the stat sheet once. He led the team in tackles with 112 – which includes a team-best 70 solo and 42 assisted tackles – and tackles for loss with 11. Bolton was one of just two defenders who scored a touchdown, thanks to an 83-yard scoop-and-score that was the difference against Denver.

He is as sure of a tackler as you will find. On the year, he missed only three tackles for a 3.4 missed tackle rate. His best days came against the Giants (11 tackles and a QB hit), Titans (15 tackles, four for loss), and Chargers (14 tackles, three passes defended, and a QB hit).

Thus far in the playoffs, Bolton has played just over half of the defensive snaps for the Chiefs. He has 16 tackles, one of which for loss. Towards the beginning of the year, Bolton’s weakness was in pass defense. However, in the closing end of the season, he improved to a level that has given defensive coaches a bit more confidence in his ability to be on the field for passing downs. All-in-all, Bolton finished the year with the second-best tackling grade with 83.6.

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