2013 Regular Season Awards
This award will be amongst the most debated for the foreseeable future, but I don't think it should be. Everyone knows that the only other player who could possibly win this is Peyton Manning, who had several neck surgeries that held him out of the 2011 season. As far as I'm concerned, Peyton's comeback took way too long - he was supposed to be healthy for Week 1 of the 2011 season, and it took him an entire extra year to recover. Peterson was considered a likely candidate to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but beat his timetable by a long shot and was immediately effective.
In addition, Peyton - as doctors said - was never at any more risk of injury than he ever was. It's not like his neck was surgically sewn back together. Peyton's biggest hurdle was regaining feeling in his throwing arm. Doctors said that if he could regain that feeling, he'd be the same old Peyton. One of Peyton's personal physicians said on March 9th of 2012, "The neck is as good as you would expect for anyone who has played that long. It really comes down to the arm." Three of his physicians on that day told reporters that Peyton's neck was fine, and that the concern is now "nerve and strength regeneration." Well he regained that strength, and surprise, surprise... he was exceptional!
When you combine Peterson's nearly record breaking season (eight yards short of the single-season rushing record) with the fact that he beat his timetable, and throw in the history of major knee injuries diminishing athletes' careers, I find Peterson's comeback to be far more impressive than Peyton's.
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians (IND)
The simple fact that Arians was able to get his players to focus on preparing for game days after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia was extremely impressive. However, that is not the only reason I'm giving him this award.
Arians was in charge of an extremely young team that had tons of new faces of players who had never played with each other. Their leading passer, leading rusher, and second-leading receiver were all rookies. Their third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh leading receivers were not on the Colts in 2011 (four of them were rookies). Their top two leaders in interceptions and three of their top four leading tacklers were first-year Colts.
Arians set a record for wins by an interim head coach with a 9-3 record, and he united a team of strangers as they fought their way to the playoffs, all while handling offensive coordinator duties and dealing with the illness of his colleague.