Eagles 2016 team awards: Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins most valuable

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The Eagles started the season 3-0 and finished it 2-0. But in the middle there was a 2-9 stretch that ruined their season. With so many swirling storylines both on and off the field, the 2016 campaign will be remembered more for the offseason moves (and off-field debacles) than it will for the 7-9 last place NFC East finish.

Before completely turning the page to 2017, lets pause to hand out some hardware to the (few) players deserving for their performances in midnight green.

Team Most Valuable Player— Lane Johnson

Yeah this is pretty crazy, but the team had very few standout performers. And the results are hard to argue. With Johnson, the Eagles were 5-1 and averaged 26.7 points per game. Without him — during his 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancer policy — the Birds went 2-8 while scoring just 20.1 points per game.

Protecting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz proved to be really important, and Johnson’s absence and a few other injuries on the offensive line put the unit into disarray. Wentz played much better behind Johnson.Seeing the Cowboys offensive line and it’s impact on MVP candidate Dak Prescott makes the argument for Johnson even stronger.

Team Least Valuable Player — Nelson Agholor

It’s tough to pick on a guy who genuinely tries, and on a younger player still learning how to play in the NFL, but the Eagles “No. 2” wide receiver Agholor, in his sophomore season, has not lived up to his first round pedigree. He arguably cost the Eagles their Week 11 game against the Seahawks, caught just 36 of 69 targets and had more drops than anyone wants to remember. He had a meltdown and was benched.

He’s stuck on the 2017 roster due to his immovable rookie contract.

Offensive Player of the Year — Carson Wentz

Wentz sort of wins this by default. The entire Eagles offense was absent of any big playmaker. Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews and Wendell Smallwood were each brilliant in short doses, but all fell victim to the injury bug during the year. The wide receivers were even worse with Jordan Matthews leading the way with 804 yards on 73 receptions. Zach Ertz, whose 816 yards led the Eagles, didn’t come on until the last month when the season was mostly over.

Wentz, in the face of a surprise stint as a rookie quarterback, took nearly every snap for the Eagles, was elusive in the pocket and set several records, including completing more passes than any other rookie ever. He will be even better in 2017.

Defensive Player of the Year — Malcolm Jenkins

The Eagles safety and defensive captain wins by a nose over Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks, who each had impressive numbers and deserved Pro Bowl nods. Graham was a pass-rushing force and his 5.5 sacks don’t represent his fullvalue to the defense. Hicks led the Eagles with five interceptions and has forced an insane 11 turnovers in his first 24 NFL games.

But Jenkins was the quarterback of the defense, and had three picks himself (two of them run back for touchdowns in key situations against the Redskins and Giants). He also recorded 44 tackles out of the defensive secondary while playing as both an up safety, back safety and slot cornerback.

Most Improved Player — Marcus Smith

Chip Kelly drafted Smith in the first roundin 2014, and then proceeded to torture the poor young player, forcing him to learn new positions seemingly every week and barely giving him reps. He played in eight games in his rookie year and didn’t record a single tackle. He was rarely used as a sophomore, too.

Now under Jim Schwartz scheme, he’s become at least a serviceablebackup and at times a pretty potent pass rusher. He recorded 2.5 sacks in 2016 and played in all 16 games.

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