Last year there were 9 nominations for this Award. The Pats were undefeated, sent half the team to the Pro Bowl, and set all sorts of team and individual records.
This year, things aren't as glamorous. It's safe to say that the Pats are no longer the NFL's center of attention as they were 365 days ago.
Nevertheless, all things considered, it was a decent season. The Patriots lost last year's MVP in week 1, lost most of their defensive secondary to injury, lost playmakers like Adalius Thomas, Laurence Maroney never got started, the defensive line came in and out with injuries, and so on.
This year the nominees for Patriots Player of the Year are:
Wes Welker - WR
Matt Cassel - QB
Jerod Mayo - LB
Vince Wilfork - DT
Kevin Faulk - RB
The winner is...
This is the 2nd time Welker has won this Award.
Welker set an NFL record with 6+ receptions in the first 10 games of the season. When Brady went down, Welker's skills underneath and his slick moves with the ball turned him into Matt Cassel's best friend.
Last year the offense was geared on Brady to Moss over the top. This year, especially early on, the offense was all about chewing up yardage with Welker.
Welker's 112 receptions in 2007 represented 27.8% of the completions thrown by Patriot QBs. His 111 catches in '08 represent 32.7% of completions. In other words, he became a more important part of the offense. Without him, the maturation of Matt Cassel would have been slowed significantly, or stopped altogether.
The Pats didn't make the playoffs, and that sucks. But Wes Welker has caught 223 balls in 2 seasons, and that's amazing. That's why he's the Patriots Player of the Year... again.