KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was MVP of the NFL last season and MVP of Super Bowl LIV this season, but he is not the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs’ team MVP for 2019.
That honor went Tuesday to safety Tyrann Mathieu, who the team announced on Twitter as Derrick Thomas Most Valuable Player.
The Chiefs also announced that wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. was selected as the Mack Lee Hill Award winner as the team’s rookie of the year over free safety Juan Thornhill.
Both well deserved!— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 4, 2020
Team MVP - @Mathieu_Era 🍯🦡
Team ROY - @MecoleHardman4 ✈️ pic.twitter.com/ZwRB48atXi
Mathieu, better known to fans as “Honey Badger” and “The Landlord,” helped change the Chiefs’ defensive culture after signing a three-year deal with Kansas City during the offseason.
A first-team All-Pro selection, Mathieu finished third on the Chiefs with 75 tackles. He also led the defense with four interceptions and added two sacks.
The Chiefs’ defense improved from 24th in the NFL in scoring defense last season (26.3 points per game) to seventh in 2019 (19.2 ppg) led by Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark, who was acquired by trade from Seattle as another key cog to the defensive overhaul.
Kansas City’s defense allowed more than 50 fewer yards per game after Steve Spagnuolo took the reins when Bob Sutton was fired after the 2018 season.
Mathieu reacted to the news on social media, saying he was "extremely grateful" and thanking his teammates and the Chiefs' coaching staff.
Extremely Grateful. Big thanks to my teammates & Coaches!! https://t.co/j2UuFH9m7f— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) February 4, 2020
Hardman, who was selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist, finished second on the Chiefs with six touchdown receptions.
The speedy second-round pick from the University of Georgia led Kansas City with a 20.7-yard average per reception, which was the best mark among all NFL players with at least 10 catches in 2019.
Hardman finished with 26 catches for 583 yards. He also averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return and 9.3 yards per punt return.
Hardman edged out Thornhill, a fellow second-round pick, for the honor.
Thornhill, who missed the playoffs after suffering a torn ACL in the regular-season finale, finished fifth on the Chiefs with 57 tackles and ranked second behind Mathieu with three interceptions, including one for a touchdown Dec. 1 against the Oakland Raiders.