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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

NFL's best and worst of 2009

With the playoffs now upon us, we take one last look back at the regular season and offer our take on the best and worst of 2009.

MVP

Peyton Manning

A terrific race that included Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Chris Johnson and Philip Rivers. I'll go with the guy who got his team to 14-0 and a 15-10 lead over the Jets before his coach pulled the plug on the unbeaten season.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Cadillac Williams,

RB, Buccaneers

Patriots QB Tom Brady got the nod from the AP voting by sportswriters, but we prefer Williams, who overcame not one but two career-threatening knee injuries to return this year.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Sean Payton, Saints

Plenty of worthy candidates, including Marvin Lewis, Jim Caldwell and Norv Turner. But we went with Payton, whose team bounced back from a bad year to become an elite playoff team.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans

Cracked the magical 2,000-yard mark with a transcendent season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Charles Woodson,

CB, Packers

A very, very tough choice between Woodson and Darrelle Revis, who has become the NFL's premier cover corner. What separated them was the phenomenal all-around play by Woodson, 33, who had nine INTs, three return TDs, four forced fumbles and two sacks. Revis, 24, will win this award before long. And maybe more than once.

BEST ASSISTANT

Larry Coyer,

Colts defensive coordinator

Although the Colts played almost the entire season without injured All-Pro safety Bob Sanders, Coyer got the most out of a defense that turned out to be far better than expected.

WORST ASSISTANT

Bill Sheridan,

Giants defensive coordinator

After completing one of the most embarrassing seasons in Giants history, giving up 427 points, the Giants fired Sheridan after just one year on the job.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Miles Austin,

WR, Cowboys

Terrell who? Austin was the No. 1 receiver after Dallas said goodbye to Terrell Owens. Austin led the Cowboys with 1,320 yards and 11 TDs. A close second was Vikings wideout Sidney Rice, who had 1,312 yards and eight TDs.

LEAST IMPROVED PLAYER

Brady Quinn, QB, Browns

Before getting injured, Quinn might have even regressed this season, leaving new Browns president Mike Holmgren with plenty of uncertainty heading into next season.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings

Led all rookies with 790 receiving yards and added six receiving TDs.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans

A terrific season with 133 tackles, four sacks and four interceptions.

BEST FREE-AGENT SIGNING

Darren Sharper, S, Saints

One of the big reasons New Orleans' pass defense became respectable was the acquisition of Sharper, who had nine interceptions.

WORST FREE-AGENT SIGNING

Chris Canty, DT/DE, Giants

The Giants dumped $42 million into the former Cowboys lineman, and he spent the year either nursing injuries or underperforming on game day. Year 2 has to be better than this.

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