INDIANAPOLIS – Even in a season many want to forget, some awards need to be handed out.
The annual award season is here for the Colts.
Here are a handful of Colts awards for the 2023 season:
MVP: Grover Stewart
It’s probably never a good thing when a defensive tackle wins your MVP (which, for me, stands for “best player” and not “most valuable player”). Still though, Grover Stewart deserves notoriety for the type of season he had in 2022. Stewart wasn’t just a space eater in the middle. He was a durable and disruptive presence controlling the defensive interior, making numerous plays in the backfield.
Others receiving votes: Stephon Gilmore
Offensive Player of the Year: Parris Campbell
Let’s be clear, When you have an offense that is one of the worst the NFL has seen in years, this award could probably take the year off. But I do think Parris Campbell deserves singling out for the season he had. Most of it was for Campbell playing in all 17 games, after a 3-year career in which he had combined to play 15 games. Campbell’s receiving production was respectable, especially given all the quarterback turmoil.
Others receiving votes: Zack Moss
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephon Gilmore
It was pretty impressive watching Stephon Gilmore operate this year, at the age of 32. Gilmore was consistently available, and rose to the occasion in several game-clinching moments this season. The defense actually has some better than decent candidates this award, but how Gilmore sealed wins against the Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders put him over the top.
Others receiving votes: DeForest Buckner, Zaire Franklin
Rookie of the Year: Rodney Thomas II
This was a good debate, with several rookies having some nice moments in Year One. Partly by where Rodney Thomas II was drafted plays into him winning this award over Bernhard Raimann. It’s not like many opposing teams went over the top of the Colts defense, exposing the 7th round pick. Remember, Thomas II was needed in the middle of the Chiefs game when Julian Blackmon got hurt. Thomas II then proved to be too good to bench after that.
Others receiving votes: Bernhard Raimann, Jelani Woods, Alec Pierce
Breakout Player: Zaire Franklin
This was an easy winner. And it’s even more impressive that Zaire Franklin did this under a new defensive coordinator, and after he signed a new contract last offseason. Franklin went from reliable special teams leader to a franchise-record setter in the tackle department. The Colts needed Franklin badly with Shaquille Leonard’s injury situation. And the former 7th round pick delivered.
Others receiving votes: Dayo Odeyingbo
Most Disappointing: Offense
No award had a clearer answer on the list than this one. The Colts offense just had one of the worst performances the NFL has seen in years. The two position groups that underperformed the most were the offensive line and quarterback. It was an entire offense unable to support any of the competence the Colts got from their defense and special teams. When you fire the offensive coordinator, and play caller, bench the quarterback on multiple occasions, take two months to find the right offensive line, it’s probably going to be an ugly year offensively. The Colts took it to another level.
Others receiving votes: None