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

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5 Things We Learned: The Highly Debatable Edition

When we reflect back on the season, Week 6 will be one of the most talked about and remembered. We learned an awful lot.

1) The New York Giants love when the world picks against them. The G-Men went into this game as slight underdogs in Vegas, but were hearing all week by football experts that they were not going to beat San Francisco. Needless to say, they went in there and stomped them out 26-3. The pass-rush looked like its former self; the same guys who continually put (Matt) Ryan, Rodgers, (Alex) Smith, and Brady on their butts last season en route to the franchise’s 4th Super Bowl win.

Alex Smith looked uncomfortable in the pocket all game, and that’s a position where the Giants defense thrives. Coming into the game, Smith had only thrown 1 interception on the season. He left Sunday afternoon’s game with a season total of 4.

When the Giants get front-four pressure like they did on Sunday, they are a difficult team to move the ball on. They force you to speed up your reads, and that internal clock for a quarterback to get rid of the ball reaches it’s limit much faster than he would like.

Keep in mind that Eli had a very quiet day as he ended his streak of 24 consecutive games with at least 200-yards thrown. The ground game showed up for a second week in a row as well. And when Ahmad Bradshaw rushes for over 100 yards, the Giants don’t lose.

As fictional coach Gordon Bombay would say, “That wasn’t a game, that was a statement!”

2) The Patriots’ cockiness is annoying. If you watched the game as a Patriots fan, you have every right to be especially upset by this loss because it was a very winnable game. I do understand that Seattle is a good team, with a very elite defense, but the Patriots handed the game over. The Patriots offense is an enigma. You truly never know which one of their offensive personalities is going to show up.

On the one hand, you have this Patriots offense that can move the ball very efficiently with 5-10 yard routes and draw plays, all the way into the end zone with ease. Then, you have their arrogant offense which swears they can run any ole play at any given time and it will magically work for them. This is what fans saw during the last two drives of the 4th quarter. It looked like offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had already declared victory, and started picking plays out of a hat.

The Patriots didn’t lose that game because they were offensively inept, they lost because their offense became arrogant with a lead that was anything but insurmountable.

Hats off to their defense though, who have been keeping them in every game so far (especially defensive lineman Chandler Jones).

3) The Atlanta Falcons are the last undefeated team left in the NFL…but they look beatable. 4 out of the Falcons 6 wins have been by a combined 18 points.

On Sunday, they were able to pull out a late fourth quarter win, despite Matt Ryan throwing 3 interceptions in the first half vs. the Raiders. The Raiders are one of the worst teams in terms of getting sacks and turnovers, so I’m certain their defensive scheme will be used as a blueprint for remaining opponents. They aren’t overpowering teams, but doing just enough offensively to secure the W and move on to the next game.

4) The Baltimore defenders are dropping like flies…or in this case birds. MLB Ray Lewis is potentially out for the season with a torn triceps, though the team won’t rule out a late season return. Corner back Lardarius Webb is also out for the season with a torn acl, and safety Ed Reed told a local Baltimore radio station that he has been playing with a torn labrum. But have no fear Ravens’ fans, outside linebacker and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs is back on the practice field.

The long and short of that previous paragraph is that the Ravens will now have to rely on Joe Flacco more than ever. His game-managing quarterback style will no longer life them to wins this season, because he will not have that tremendous defense to fall back on. The question is: Can Joe Flacco be the elite quarterback he has been telling everyone that he is?

5) Aaron Rodgers had Aaron Rodgers on his fantasy team. Every now and again, someone in the NFL goes off and has a monstrous game out of the blue. Brian Hartline had one for the wide receivers, Jamaal Charles for the running backs, and that only left one offensive position to go, quarterback. Aaron Rodgers was ‘the guy’ on Sunday Night Football.

Now, it’s arguable that he didn’t need six touchdowns to win his team the game, but he was out there trying to make a statement. As Coach Reilly in The Mighty Ducks said, “It’s not worth winning, if you can’t win big!”

The Packers are not going down this season without a fight in them. They sense the weakness in their division, and understand that despite their slow start, they could still win it by multiple games.

Rodgers joined a special group of players that night, as one of only four quarterbacks to throw for over 330 yards, 6 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions in NFL history. The last person to accomplish this feat was Tom Brady, and he did it twice.

#BookIt
-The Giants are primed to go on a run, and have the schedule to do so.

-The Ravens aren’t winning the AFC North division anymore.

-Brady is due for one of THOSE GAMES vs. the Jets this weekend (you know what I’m talking about).

-The fight for USC quarterback Matt Barkley will come down to two teams who don’t need him: Jacksonville and Cleveland.

-CJ2K is going to get his first touchdown this Sunday! (Football gods help him if he can’t score against that horrid Bills defense)

The McKayla is Not Impressed Award for Week 6 goes to Eagles Management for firing Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, following the Eagles defense blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter vs. the Detroit Lions.

Why am I not impressed? Because it was a bailout move. Why not fire the offensive coordinator who continues to let Vick have the ball in his hands each and every play? The Eagles have a top-3 running back in McCoy, and yet they vastly underutilize him.

Juan Castillo is out of a job for his guys blowing another fourth quarter lead, meanwhile, Steve Spagnuolo is coordinating the worst defense in the NFL right now in New Orleans, and his job seems in tact. He doesn’t appear to be on the hot seat whatsoever.

Meanwhile, in New England, Josh McDaniels is standing there giving off the impression that he asks Madden for his conservative play-calling advice, and his job security feels just fine too.

This all leads me to believe that the this is part 1 of 3-step process:
Step 1: Fire the defensive coordinator to buy your offense more time to get things rolling.
Step 2: Release Michael Vick at the end of the season because he will no longer ‘fit’ into the plan that the franchise has going forward.
Step 3: Fire Andy Reid because heaven knows this has been long overdue.