Read carefully: there is a difference between "Coach of the Year" and "Coaches Award". The latter doesn't honor a coach on the staff, but rather a player that exemplifies a "team first nature" and always seems to have a good attitude. This award also differs from "The Unsung Hero of the Year" award, which we'll be giving out soon, in a number of different ways. In short, it's a player that you'd love to have on your team if you were a coach, and not just for talent reasons.
Sure, that plays a part in it, but so does leadership, propping up of teammates and other intangible aspects that make up a player's DNA. To the Bengals' credit, they have made a concerted effort to bring in a bunch of these types of players over the past half-decade or so, after seeing so many others have legal issues off the field.
Here are the contributor votes for this award:
Mickey Mentzer (AKA whodeyfans): Giovani Bernard. He never complained about his role and played the "change of pace back" position well for the Bengals.
Alberto Luque (AKA muertasdetenas): Ryan Hewitt. A fullback never gets credited and has to contribute in many things. He was always there.
Scott Bantel: Giovani Bernard – Safe to say Bernard did not live up to his lofty 2014 expectations, but he definitely displayed what it means to be a team player. Going into 2014, Bernard was expected to be the starter and have a breakout year. After a disappointing start to the season and a few nagging injuries, Bernard was replaced by Jeremy Hill as the starting back. Bernard took it like a true professional, not only doing all the right things, but saying all the right things. Bernard continued to work hard and produce when given the opportunity. In their final game, the offense was decimated by injuries to receivers and tight ends so Bernard played the role of leading receiver – to the tune of 8 receptions and 46 yards.
Jason Marcum: I'm going with Andrew Whitworth.
Nick Seuberling: Ryan Hewitt.
Anthony Cosenza: I'll go with Bernard as well. It's tough to get demoted in only one's second season, but Gio took it as well as one could hope. Furthermore, he remained productive in the games after the demotion and was a big receiving threat.