Midseason Awards: We’re Halfway There Edition

Here we stand at Week 9, the midpoint of the 2012-2013 NFL season. Let’s change things up this week and give out mid-season awards, while we also look ahead to what the second half of the season may have have in store for us.

Mid-season MVP

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Matty Ice agrees with this assessment!

The man is at the helm of the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL, and one of the key reasons this team looks poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. He doesn’t have the most passing yards at the midway point (8th with 2018), but he is tied for 3rd place with 17 passing touchdowns. Matty Ice is what makes the Falcons go. They are 24th in the league in rushing yards per game with 95, making Ryan’s performance week in and week out that much more essential to the Falcons success. The MVP award is his to lose.

Honorable Mentions: Eli Maning, QB, New York Giants; Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

Comeback Player of the Year

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

This may very well be the easiest award to predict of the season. As long as Peyton is playing, and at his usual high level, this award is his unanimously. Through 7 games, Peyton is 1st in passer rating (109.0), 5th in passing yards (2,113), and tied with Matt Ryan for 3rd in passing touchdowns (17).

Honorable Mentions: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings; Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

This is the second easiest award to predict this season. This is not Andrew Luck’s award to win back; it is Griffin’s to lose. Two weeks ago, RGIII was in the top 5 in passer rating, and currently he sits at number 7 (97.3). He has 14 total touchdowns on the season, 6 of which have come on the ground. That puts him 2nd in the league only to Texans running back Arian Foster, who has 9. What is also noteworthy is that he is ranked 17th in rushing yards with 476. Currently, he is ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, and Matt Forte.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts; Doug Martin, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Greg Zuerlein, PK, St. Louis Rams

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots

Entering the team’s bye week, Jones has 33 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. There is only one defensive end in the entire league who is ahead of Jones in tackles and that is Muhammad Wilkerson of the New York Jets with 36. Jones’ 6 sacks have him in a 4-way tie for 12th.

Honorable Mention: Casey Hayward, Cornerback, Green Bay Packers

Offensive Player of the Year

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

Foster leads both wide receivers and running backs in touchdowns with 9, and he is 11th in scoring. This is of note because the 10 players in front of him are place kickers. He is 5th in rushing yards with 659, and the biggest stat of them all, he has 0 fumbles halfway through the season. When Foster is healthy, like he is now, he is one of the best players in the National Football League. On most teams, the rushing attack is used to set up a team’s aerial game, but not in Houston. Quarterback Matt Schaub goes to the air to set up the team’s run game. There are very few teams in the NFL who have the personnel to do this week in and week out.

Honorable Mentions: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots; Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

J.J. Swatt, as he is commonly being referred to, is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season. Watt leads the league in both sacks and passes deflected with 9.5 and 10 respectively. With linebacker Brian Cushing out for the season, Watt has turned his game up a few notches, while also being the leader of one of the league’s best defenses this season.

Honorable Mentions: Tim Jennings, CB, Chicago Bears; Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers

If Foster and Watt were to win both the offensive and defensive player awards respectively, it would be the first time the award went to teammates since the 2003 NFL season when running back Jamal Lewis and MLB Ray Lewis did it. It would be the 2nd time in the history of the awards as well. 

Coach of The Year

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins

Raise your hand if you thought that at the halfway point of the season, the Miami Dolphins would be in the playoffs if the season ended today? :waits: :crickets: Didn’t think so! Everyone, including myself, laughed when the Dolphins cut Chad Johnson prior to the start of the season, as if they were such a great team they could afford to do such a thing. Well, here they stand at 4-3, 1 win away from tying the Patriots for a piece of the AFC East.

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Philbin has this team playing amazing defensively, run wise at least. Coming into Week 9, the Dolphins are ranked 3rd in opposing rush yards per game at 82. They aren’t blowing out teams (aside from last week’s 30-9 victory over the Jets), but are gritting games out for four quarters, thus hanging in there long enough for kicker Doug Carpenter to kick them to a W.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons; Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears

-Jimmy Lips

5 Things We Learned: The Seattle Screwjob Edition

1) If players can be flagged for throwing the ball at fellow players, then coaches should be reprimanded for throwing the game. Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, you should be ashamed of yourself. Schwartz took full blame for the loss after the game (which he should), but that doesn’t change the fact that it was arguably one of the dumbest play-calls on fourth down since Belichick went for it deep in his own territory versus the Colts.

“I was getting ready to call timeout,” said Schwartz after the game, who said the play was an attempt to draw the Titans offside. Jim, we are still waiting for you to call that timeout. Quarterback Shaun Hill telegraphed that QB Sneak the moment he broke the huddle.

It was fourth-and-1. All Schwartz had to do was send Jason Hanson, who was 4/4 on the day, out for the 24-yard field goal, thus displaying trust in his defense to get one more stop. Sounds too easy right?! It’s a move like that which makes a player on the defense start to question the coach’s play-calling on the offensive side of the ball.

Then there is Miami Dolphins first-year head coach Joe Philbin. Joe, is there any conclusive evidence to suggest that icing the kicker actually works? Because if there is, I am dying to get my hands on that data. It’s bad enough coach Philbin believes if a coach calls for time the moment before the place-holder asks for the ball to be snapped, the kicker will miss the ensuing field goal. What makes this even more of a face-palm moment is the Dolphins were able to successfully block the kick!

Coach Philbin, I get it. You’re a superstitious individual. I am too. When the Giants were getting steam-rolled in the first half of their week 2 game vs Tampa Bay, I found myself scratching my head a lot. Then, at half time, my friend’s sister texted me and implored that the four of us switch seats for the second half. Nothing else seemed to be working at the time, so we did switch. And what do you know, the Giants came roaring back to win on the shoulders of a career-day from quarterback Eli Manning.

Did I actually believe I had any impact on the Giants performance in the second half? In the moment, of course I did, but in reality the answer is no. Did Philbin really believe his timeout call was going to ice Nick Folk? As Timbaland and Nelly Furtado would say, “Nope. Didn’t think so.”

2) Panic should ensue in New Orleans right about…NOW!

You’re the New Orleans Saints and you’re 0-2 going into week 3. You’re down on yourselves for the disappointing start to the season (as you should be.) But then the football gods hear your sorrows, and they give you the gift of the Kansas City Chiefs at home. What more could you ask for?! To the credit of the Saints, it has taken monster performances from their 3 previous opponents to keep them winless:

-Robert Griffin, III threw for 320 yards and 2 scores, with the addition of 42 rushing yards on the side for good measure.

-Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers, as a team, rushed for 219 total yards on 41 carries.

-Jamaal Charles gutted the Saints defense for 233 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Needless to say, to beat the Saints, a team needs to have at least one player with a breakout game. They’re not getting blown out. The Saints simply aren’t closing out games, as this past Sunday’s overtime performance displayed. Blame the lack of coach Sean Payton’s missing presence on the sidelines all you want, but the reality is the Saints look flat, and even more so, beatable. If anything, the absence of Payton should inspire them and bring out more passion in their game, and yet, the opposite is occurring. More often than not, when something/someone is taken from you, you will do whatever it takes to retrieve it. Maybe the Saints don’t want it bad enough.

Now, the Saints have to travel up north to take on the very pissed off Green Bay Packers. This game may very well determine if the Saints can make one final push to turn their season around, or if they should start scouting for their top 10 pick in next season’s NFL draft. According to nfl.com, since 1990, only 5 NFL teams have started the season 0-3 and still made the playoffs. With the depth that is in the NFC this season, the Saints would need to play near perfect football, and need a lot of teams to fall off immediately.

3) It is time to cut ties with Chris Johnson on your fantasy team. I take this learned lesson especially personal because I was one of those fantasy players who felt Chris Johnson’s holdout two season’s ago would not stop him from being a 1500-yard rusher in 2011, at the minimum. Boy was I wrong. Fast forward to this past August and there I was, like many of you, sitting there with a second round pick and thinking, “I have to take him here.” Now together, we are all face-palming the decision to have drafted him at all.

Through three games, Chris Johnson is averaging a mere 1.4 yards per carry. Per espn.com and the Elias Sports Bureau, among those who have the minimum 6.25 per game to qualify, Johnson ranks dead last at number 51. As I have stated in previous weeks, this is the year of the backup running back, and there are plenty of players out there who can amass the measly eight fantasy points he has put up thus far. Drop him now, while there are still valuable players on the waiver wire, because he is done.

4) Goodell Logic. I certainly can’t take credit for the name of this (shout-out to WFAN’s Evan Roberts), but I definitely subscribe to this theory that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approves moves that make you scratch your head. In this case, the weekly Thursday night football game, which every team plays in at some point during the regular season.

Goodell Logic allowed the Baltimore Ravens to play in the prime-time game on Sunday night, only to have them play once again this Thursday evening vs the Cleveland Browns. That makes no sense whatsoever. Regardless of who they are playing, teams should not have to play a football game on 3 days rest. Nothing good can come of that, except the NFL making more money by having people tune into its network channel every Thursday.

Sadly, nothing will be brought to the table to end this until players start to get injured because of these short turn-around weeks. Be on the lookout though, because Goodell Logic is bound to punish your favorite team at some point this season.

5) The Sunday night game featuring the Ravens and Patriots may have been the worst officiated game this season…until we all witnessed the screwjob that was Seattle vs. Green Bay.

No need to rehash what has already been beaten into the ground over the last 48 hours. The officiating of those two nationally televised games was abysmal! The final play should not have been ruled a touchdown at all. It was clear as day (apparently not if you were on the field and wearing stripes it wasn’t) that Golden Tate did not have possession, simultaneous possession, anything, and yet the refs still ruled in favor of the Seahawks.
I really want to believe professional sports are never rigged, Tim Donaghy aside, but then officials blow calls like that and it makes me wonder if Roger Goodell runs the NFL, or if Vince McMahon and the writers at WWE are the ones calling the shots. The ending to the football game delivered from a ratings perspective, something Vince McMahon has seen the WWE excel at. Fact is, when the conclusion of Monday Night Raw seems less fixed than the outcome of a professional football, we as a fan base, and as a culture, have failed ourselves.

#BookIt

-The New York Jets are done. You know the rest of your season is bleak when one of the backup running backs is being converted into cornerback.

-Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback in Philly as long as he healthy. Head coach Andy Reid wasn’t fooling anyone when he told reporters that Vick was their quarterback for now. What are his other options?

-The blown call in Monday night’s game changed the landscape of the NFC playoff picture. Just wait.

-If the Saints lose on Sunday, they are not making the playoffs. If the Saints win on Sunday, they are not making the playoffs.

-Rob Gronkowski will not be as effective as last season until: A) Aaron Hernandez returns B) Josh McDaniels actually figures out what he is doing with that offense…whichever happens first.

In Week 3, McKayla is certainly not impressed with the Green Bay Packers. This is truly meant for guard T.J. Lang and cornerback M.D. Jennings. Had the two of you done your jobs just a tiny bit better, your team would not have been on the wrong side of a horrendous call.

Mr. Lang, had your offensive line had a pulse in the first half, the game would not have had to come down to the final Hail Mary. Mr. Jennings, all you had to do was swat the football down, up, to the left; any direction your heart so desired. That is football 101. Instead you chose to go for your individual defensive player fantasy points and be a hero to your own team. McKayla is not impressed, and neither is anyone that witnessed you selfishly catch the ball on that last play.