Each year, 12 of the NFL’s 32 teams get a chance to play in the playoffs. Familiar names like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Russell Wilson punctuated the rosters of the 12 playoff teams in 2014. But for the other 20 teams and their players, the off-season began once that 16th game was finished. Unfortunately, what gets lost when the playoffs start is the performances of some of those players whose teams didn’t make the post-season.
To honor those players on the 20 teams that did not make the 2014 NFL playoffs, I’ve created an honor to recognize the top performances from their seasons. In honor of Takeo Spikes, the San Diego Chargers linebacker who played 219 NFL regular season games in his career without ever playing in an NFL playoff game, I present the annual “Takeo” Honors. These honors are presented to the players from non-playoff teams who topped the list in 19 different statistical categories.
(Numbers for each of the statistical category leaders are based on only those players whose teams did not make the playoffs.)
2014 NFL “Takeo” Honors
QUARTERBACKS Most passing TDs: Drew Brees, New Orleans, 33; Highest Passer Rating: Drew Brees, New Orleans, 97.0
RUNNING BACKS Most rushing yards: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, 1,319; Most rushing TDs: Matt Asiata, Minnesota, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City and Mark Ingram, New Orleans, nine each
RECEIVERS Most receptions: Julius Jones, Atlanta, 104; Most receiving TDs: Odell Beckham, NY Giants, Mike Evans, Tampa Bay and Antonio Gates, San Diego, 12 each
POINTS SCORED Most points scored (non-kicker): Jamaal Charles, Kansas City, 84; Most points scored (kicker): Cody Parkey, Philadelphia, 150
KICKERS Most field goals made: Dan Carpenter, Buffalo, 34
DEFENSE Most sacks: Justin Houston, Kansas City, 22; Most tackles: Lavonte David, Tampa bay, 101; Most interceptions: Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland, six; Fumbles recovered: J.J. Watt, Houston, five; Fumbles forced: Ryan Kerrigan, Washington and Robert Quinn, St. Louis, five each
PUNTERS Highest average per punt: Tress Way, Washington, 47.5
KICK RETURNERS Highest yards per kickoff return (min. of 16 returns): Knile Davis, Kansas City, 28.6; Highest yards per punt return (min. of 16 returns): Marcus Thigpen, (three teams that did not make the playoffs, Buffalo, Miami and Tampa Bay) 13.8
MISCELLANEOUS Most yards from scrimmage: Matt Forte, Chicago, 1,846; Most all-purpose yards: Jarvis Landry, Miami, 1,912
2014 NFL “Takeo” Honors Player of the Year: My selection for the 2014 Takeo Honors POY is Houston’s J.J. Watt. He won the league’s Most Valuable Defensive Player and was given much consideration for the NFL MVP in 2014. Watt had five TDs, including three receiving touchdowns, all for the 9-7 Texans, who did not make the playoffs.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp