Patriots 2022 season awards: MVP, most improved and rookie of the year

A disappointing end to the New England Patriots’ season has everyone in the building ready to turn the page to 2023.

They failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, while watching their two division rivals, the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, play in their stead.

Although the season didn’t go as expected due to offensive struggles and inconsistency with player performances, there were some true bright spots for the Patriots that offer at least some hope for the foreseeable future.

Here are the regular season award winners for New England in 2022.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Winner: Cole Strange

Honorable Mention(s): Bailey Zappe

Cole Strange was selected at No. 29 overall, and many across the league were baffled by the selection. Strange has since made a lot of doubters quiet with his performances this season.

He has been on the field for all 17 games and has allowed just five sacks on the year. Despite his ups and downs throughout the season, Strange was the best offensive rookie for the 2022 Patriots by a long shot.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Marcus Jones

Honorable Mention(s): Jack Jones

Marcus Jones and Jack Jones were really neck and neck here for who could win DROY, but Marcus Jones wound up having a bigger role on defense, while Jack Jones’ season was unfortunately cut short.

Both rookies look extremely promising, with Marcus Jones showing his zone and man skills as a nickel corner, while also flashing the speed to keep up with elite wide receivers. If Marcus Jones was a few inches taller, the Patriots would have an elite outside corner on their hands. But I’ll take a slot/nickel corner, return man and offensive weapon any day of the week.

Offensive Player of the Year

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Rhamondre Stevenson

Honorable Mention(s): Jakobi Meyers

Rhamondre Stevenson contributed to 1,400-plus all purpose yards with 69 receptions and six total touchdowns. He was the lone bright spot on a putrid Patriots offense and a budding star for the team.

His versatility as a player has been a huge lift in a unit void of standout offensive playmakers. The future is bright in the offensive backfield in New England with Stevenson at the center of it all.

Defensive Player of the Year

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Matthew Judon

Honorable Mention(s): Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche

Matthew Judon was a beast yet again, racking up 15.5 sacks on the season, 13 tackles for a loss and even dropping back and making plays in coverage a few times.

He’s an all-around edge defender and leader of the Patriots defense. He may not show up on the stat sheet every week, but he definitely makes it easier for everyone else.

There’s no question he was the defensive player of the year for the 2022 Patriots.

Comeback Player of the Year

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Jonathan Jones

Honorable Mention(s): Anfernee Jennings

After suffering a season-ending injury last season, Jonathan Jones came back and was fantastic in coverage all season long. Trailing the game’s elite receivers is no joke, and Jones has proven to the league time and time again that he can be a true outside corner for any team.

Special team player of the year

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Brenden Schooler

Honorable Mention(s): Nick Folk, Marcus Jones

Schooler has had a great rookie season in which he tallied 12 solo tackles on special teams, which was good for first on the team in 2022.

I was tempted to give this award to Marcus Jones for his return prowess this season, but Schooler was also noted for two fumble recoveries on the year and was graded 86.2 by PFF for his special teams reps all season.

Nick Folk also had a chance to win this award, but Schooler has been sensational all year.

Most Improved Player

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Jahlani Tavai

Honorable Mention(s):  Josh Uche

I was torn between Uche and Tavai, but Tavai has really come into his own in New England with 66 tackles, which was the fourth-most on the team this year. According to PFF, he did not miss a tackle all season.

He earned a 69.6 grade in run defense and 66.6 coverage grade from PFF, which combined for an overall 70.3 grade for the year.

Tavai was seen as a special teamer, linebacker and depth piece that was a failed pick of Matt Patricia in Detroit, but the Patriots have gotten more out of him in 2022. He has improved in every category—run defense, tackling, and pass coverage—since he came to New England.

Unsung Hero

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Michael Onwenu

Honorable Mention(s):  Deatrich Wise Jr.

Michael Onwenu is deserving of the unsung hero award, which is given to the player who isn’t getting talked about enough, despite impacting games every week.

Onwenu played 100 percent of the snaps (except for a brief period at the end of Week 18) while only allowing one sack this season. He has earned himself a 79.8 PFF grade.

He has been one of the best interior lineman since coming into the league and has versatility to kick outside if needed.

MVP

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Rhamondre Stevenson

Honorable Mention(s):  Matthew Judon

Matthew Judon deserves this just as much as Stevenson. So I made this harder on myself to try and decide who would walk away with the award this year. Stevenson accounted for over 1,400 yards on the season and has been a consistent workhorse and the Patriots’ best weapon on the field.

Matthew Judon is the defense’s version of that. But my thought process, which could be flawed here, decided that Stevenson is more valuable to the team this season due to the fact that if you take out his numbers, the Patriots’ already bad offense would be even worse.

On the flipside, removing Judon is certainly a huge blow, but the defense as a whole is still a good unit.

[listicle id=134655]

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire