There's no shortage of various NFL awards and honors handed out during this time of the year.
ESPN is among those outlets recognizing players and teams across the league for numerous accomplishments and most recently announced their 2019 Advanced Statistics Awards. ESPN's Seth Walder wrote:
Advanced statistics allow us to better evaluate on-field performance, so it would only make sense for us to go to those analytics for some extra accolades this season. We're handing out trophies in a variety of those advanced stat categories. These stats come from ESPN Stats & Information, NFL Next Gen Stats or a combination of the two.
Walder went position group by position group; among receivers, he highlighted Stefon Diggs for having the "most completed air yards over expectation per route run."
Walder contrasted Diggs with Saints wideout Michael Thomas, who had the "most completed air yards over expectation" in general.
Diggs' average target is almost 15 yards downfield, while Thomas' are just over eight. So given that Diggs also catches his passes well above their expected completion percentage, Diggs' CAYOE was more impressive on a per-target basis. Diggs caught five passes that were at least 20 yards downfield and had less than a 30-percent chance of completion this season, including this shot in September against the Packers.
Walder dropped in the following tweet:
SI's Orr names early offseason 'to-dos' for teams
While four teams will vie this weekend for a spot in the Super Bowl, another 28 are already turning the page to the 2020 season.
Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr took a look at each of those teams no longer contending and named one "to-do" item before the offseason fully gets underway.
For the Vikings, Orr said that Minnesota should be careful not to "fall behind in the race for offensive coordinator."
Kevin Stefanski served as the Vikings offensive coordinator during the 2019 season but recently accepted his first-ever head coaching job with the Browns, leaving behind an empty office. It remains to be seen whether Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will promote from within or bring in an outside candidate for the role. Orr wrote:
There are a handful of good teams still looking for offensive coordinators. The Vikings should act fast before they're relegated to running an imitation of a system in 2019 that left some explosiveness to be desired. The Bears made their move, while the Steelers plucked offensive guru Matt Canada to coach their quarterbacks. The possibilities are (somewhat) endless, but the number of candidates who could catapult Minnesota back into the playoffs are not.
As for the Vikings two NFC North rivals not in the playoffs?
Orr said that Detroit should "upgrade its secondary" and Chicago should consider bringing in "legitimate competition" for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Nick Foles may be available. Tom Brady may be available. Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston may also be available. It's going to take some time to sell it, but this roster is built to win now, and if Trubisky reaches a performance valley as he did in 2019, there needs to be a better option.
Jaleel Johnson highlighted among Illinois high school standouts
Edgy Tim of NBC Sports Chicago is combing over the past 10 years to assemble an "all-decade" team of the top players in IHSA (Illinois High School Association) football.
On Thursday, Tim rolled out the "best of the best" at the defensive tackle spot and highlighted Vikings DT Jaleel Johnson, whom Minnesota drafted in 2017. Tim wrote:
Johnson began his high school career at St. Joseph and then transferred to Montini for his senior season. As a senior in 2011, Johnson was an All-State, All-Area and All-Conference selection for the Broncos and Head Coach Chris Andriano. He was a major contributor who helped catapult his team to a Class 5A state title. Johnson signed with Iowa and ended up having a very impressive career for the Hawkeyes.
Since joining the Vikings, Johnson has played in 41 games – including four postseason contests. Over 37 regular-season games, he has totaled 42 tackles (coaches' tally), 4.0 sacks, six tackles for loss, a forced fumble and seven quarterback hits.
Thielen Nominated for "Anything But Ordinary" Award
Receiver Adam Thielen's underdog story of going from an undrafted longshot to an All-Pro has been selected as the Vikings nominee for the inaugural "Anything But Ordinary" Player of the Year award, which will be presented by Microsoft Surface during NFL Honors on Feb. 1.
The "Anything But Ordinary" award recipient will be determined by online fan voting that is ongoing through 2 p.m. (CT) on Jan. 20. Click here to vote for Thielen.
Microsoft will send one grand prize-winning voter on a trip to Miami for Super Bowl LIV. The prize includes hotel, airfare and two tickets.