USA TODAY Sports
The Associated Press started giving out awards for NFL Rookie of the Year back in 1967, giving out one award for the best rookie on the offensive side of the ball and one for the best rookie on the defensive side of the ball. Since the award has been given out, the trophy on the offensive side has gone to 31 running backs, 8 wide receivers, and 6 quarterbacks.
And zero offensive linemen.
Much like the Heisman Trophy in college, the "big uglies" on the offensive line really have little to no shot to win this sort of an award. After all, awards like this are decided by the media, who like to have statistics and numbers to point at in order to justify their selections for the award. That's understandable. . .after all, touchdowns and yardage sell newspapers and magazines and what not, and the skill positions are just more glamorous.
This year, there are plenty of candidates for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award among the "beautiful people" in the National Football League. We mentioned three rookie quarterbacks yesterday, and you can throw Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin into the mix as well. But as far as the most outstanding performance by a rookie on the offensive side of the ball this season, the player that's performing the best in his rookie campaign will, likely, end up getting completely ignored.
Kalil has stepped in and made a Minnesota offensive line that was nothing short of a complete dumpster fire in 2011 a very solid unit. Through the first 13 games of the season, the Vikings have given up 28 quarterback sacks. That's a far cry from the 50 that they allowed in 2011. (Yes, I know the Vikings have the 32nd-ranked pass offense in football. . .as noted football analyst Gisele Bundchen once observed, he can't throw the ball and catch it, too.) And even though we know that Adrian Peterson is having a season for the ages rushing the football thus far and has his sights set on Eric Dickerson, he wouldn't be able to do it without Kalil and company up front clearing the way.
You might say to yourself, "Sure, that shows the Vikings' offensive line is improved, but how about Kalil as an individual player?" We've documented what a couple of different sites have had to say about him, numbers-wise, but consider this tidbit from ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert from the day after the Vikings' 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Kalil did his part in limiting the Bears' defensive line to one sack and one hit of quarterback Christian Ponder. It's worth noting that the second-quarter holding penalty Kalil received while trying to block defensive end Julius Peppers was his first holding call of the season, declined or accepted. (This one was declined.)
Yes, according to NFL.com, the Minnesota Vikings' offense has been on the field for 803 offensive plays through the first 13 games of the season. Matt Kalil has been called for holding exactly one time, and it was declined. . .so, technically, he doesn't have a holding penalty against him this year. For a player fresh out of college to step into the most crucial position on the offensive line and perform at that level is to be commended.
As an offensive lineman, Matt Kalil will most likely get zero support in the race for the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. But maybe he ought to.