Handing out individual awards and other accolades from the 2017 Cincinnati Bengals season. Categories include offensive/ defensive, MVP and more.
Offensive MVP: WR, A.J. Green
On the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense, Green was a 1,000-yard receiver for the sixth time in seven years. The Pro-Bowl wideout’s biggest game was against Buffalo, when he propelled Cincinnati to its first home win of the season with 189 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Green also had a pair of touchdown in a week 13 loss to Pittsburgh. That same game, Green had a second-half touchdown called back on a questionable holding call. That score would’ve put him over 100 yards and it would’ve been his first career three-TD performance.
Honorable mention: QB, Andy Dalton
Defensive MVP: CB, William Jackson III
Jackson could also be deemed Comeback Player of the Year, too. The second-year corner missed all of his rookie campaign, but bounced back in a big way. Jackson turned into a shutdown corner throughout the season. Per Pro Football Focus, he had the lowest catch percentage allowed in 2017 at 34.9 percent. Jackson also took the upper hand against Antonio Brown. In two games against Arguably the NFL’s best receiver, Jackson broke up four of eight targets and did not allow a catch.
Honorable mention: DT, Geno Atkins
Rookie of the Year: DE, Carl Lawson
Lawson was the first Bengal to be selected to the PFWA’s all-rookie team since Jeremy Hill in 2014. Lawson finished second on the team in sacks with 8.5, trailing Geno Atkins by just a half-sack. The rookie had his coming-out party against Green Bay, when he downed Aaron Rodgers 2.5 times. Lawson finished one sack shy of Carlos Dunlap’s rookie record.
Honorable mention: RB, Joe Mixon
Most Improved Player: DE, Michael Johnson
At age 30, Johnson had a resurgence in 2017. The Bengals moved him inside to the defensive tackle position in some spots, which resulted in the veteran racking up five sacks (tied for most since 2012) and 49 combined tackles (most since 2013). Johnson showed a sign of life during the Bengals’ late-season three-game skid. The Georgia Tech product had two sacks against Chicago, in what could be called the Bengals’ worst loss in the Marvin Lewis era.
Honorable mention: CB, Darqueze Dennard
Most Disappointing Player: WR, John Ross
During an inadequate season like 2017, there are plenty of names that could fit this award. Ross, the Bengals’ first-round pick in April, touched the ball just once during the regular season and lost a fumble against Houston. He failed to record a catch and was in and out of Lewis’ doghouse. After multiple weeks as a healthy inactive, Ross landed on injured reserve for an injury he hid during the season.
Honorable mention: OT, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher; CB, Dre Kirkpatrick
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Coach of the Year: OC, Bill Lazor
The Bengals offense finished dead last in the NFL, but Lazor did turn around the unit after taking over for Ken Zampese. Despite taking over an inadequate offensive line and a committee approach at running back, Lazor got the Bengals into the end zone and Andy Dalton was playing well. The Bengals had the sixth-highest YPC average over the final 10 weeks of the season. Cincinnati’s backfield racked up 288 rushing yards over its season-ending two-game winning streak.
Honorable mention: Running backs coach, Kyle Caskey
Best Moment: Andy Dalton’s game-winning TD to Tyler Boyd
The Bengals had already been eliminated from postseason contention, but it was a sweet feeling to knock Baltimore out of the playoffs in week 17. The Bengals avenged a 20-0 season-opening loss to the Ravens with a road win at M&T Bank Stadium on Jan. 1, anchored by Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12 with less than a minute remaining. That touchdown pass sent off a whirlwind of other events, too. Baltimore’s loss put Buffalo into the playoffs, ending the Bills’ 17-year playoff drought.
The Bills then donated nearly $345,000 to The Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation. Buffalo responded by sending nearly 1,500 chicken wings to the Bengals, which the team donated to Autism Services at The Children’s Home of Cincinnati.
Honorable mention: Adam Jones’ baby delivery celebration
Worst Moment: The second half of the Bengals’ loss to Pittsburgh in week 13
The Bengals had a fighter’s chance at the playoffs going into December. Cincinnati’s postseason chances looked even better when the Bengals took a 17-0 lead against division-rival Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football on Dec. 4. But Joe Mixon and Vontaze Burfict left the game with injuries, the offense went stale and the Steelers scored 23 of the game’s final 26 points to beat the Bengals with a field goal at the gun.
Honorable mention: Tyler Eifert stepping out-of-bounds against Houston, negating a go-ahead touchdown catch
Play of the Year: Carlos Dunlap’s pick-six against Indianapolis
There was still some life in the Bengals’ season, in late October. Sitting at 2-4, the Bengals looked to right some earlier wrongs against an abysmal Colts team. Needing a win before a three-game road trip, the Bengals were unable to find any groove on offense against a porous Indianapolis defense. Trailing by six midway through the fourth quarter, Dunlap tipped a Jacoby Brissett pass, located the ball and raced 16 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Without that play, the Bengals likely fall to 2-6 after a date in Jacksonville the following week.
Honorable mention: Andy Dalton’s game-winning TD to Tyler Boyd against Baltimore