The assumption heading into this past NFL season was that Buffalo Bills defender Damar Hamlin would receive the Comeback Player of the Year award as long as he dressed on game day after his near-death experience on the field last season. While Hamlin made it back onto the field, he did not win the AP Comeback Player of the Year award.
AP Comeback Player of the Year— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) February 9, 2024
Joe Flacco 13-26-8 = 151
Damar Hamlin 21-7-14 = 140
Baker Mayfield 10-10-13 = 93
Matthew Stafford 1-6-7 = 30
Tua Tagovailoa 4-0-1 = 21
Breece Hall 0-0-3 = 3
Brock Purdy 1-0-1 = 6
Calvin Ridley 0-1-0 = 3
Aaron Donald 0-0-1…
As shown, the award instead went to Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (who seemingly only overcame being bad for a while).
Performance apparently played a key role in the eventual winner, as Hamlin’s comeback is certainly more impressive from a “where they came back from” perspective. If performance was such a critical factor, then I must question why New York Jets running back Breece Hall did not receive more support than his three third place votes.
Hall’s success this season is nearly unprecedented within the scope of the injury he suffered last season. Arguably only future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson has ever had a better season as a running back than Breece Hall did one season removed from a torn ACL injury. Rather than taking the typical statistical step back in a post ACL injury season, Hall compiled some rather gaudy statistics that position him as arguably the second best running back in the league this season.
Top 10 Total Scrimmage Yards for RB’s pic.twitter.com/wYDaeMTmB2— BENGALS TALK (@BengalsTalk) January 11, 2024
Hall did this behind one of the worst offensive lines in recent memory. For reference, Hall averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The other Jets running backs who received at least 10 carries? Less than 4 yards per carry with Israel Abanikanda clocking in at 3.2 yards per carry and Dalvin Cook clocking in at 3.2 yards per carry. No player above Hall in the Comeback Player of the Year voting did more with less than Hall did.
Hall’s efficiency was also a crucial part of the New York Jets offense. Hall accounted for 1585 yards as shown in the tweet above. The Jets offense as a whole only accounted for 4566 yards, meaning that Breece Hall accounted for one in every three yards the Jets gained. He did this coming back from an injury that usually leaves a running back a shell of his former self in the first year back from injury.
In the end, it seems that the Cleveland Browns’ success under Flacco’s leadership and the media publicity that came with that was what earned Flacco this award. However, the Comeback Player of the Year award is not a team award. It is an individual award. Accordingly, I question why Breece Hall was not given more consideration. It sure seems like he should have had a strong candidacy for voters who seemingly prioritized performance and did not vote for Hamlin. What do you think?
Should Breece Hall have won Comeback Player of the Year?