Nick's (Belated) NFL Mid-Season Awards
Yes, Week 10 just finished up so these "mid-season awards" are a bit late. I only just had the urge today to try and put some names on paper, but I thought it would be fun to see where the league stands in terms of where I think recognition should go for these annual achievements.
Obviously these are just my opinions. You're welcome to add your own and agree/disagree with them. But here are my picks.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady (QB, Patriots)
Look, I'm not going to be marching in any Tom Brady parade any time soon, but even I have to admit he's having a great season. Fourth best passer rating in the NFL, a touchdown-to-interception ratio above 4:1, 64.5% completions. And the only real established star with him on offense is Wes Welker. The Patriots have the league's best scoring offense, and their record is tied for the league's best as well. At this point, he deserves this award as much as anyone.
Offensive Player of the Year: Arian Foster (RB, Texans)
Yep, I said it - Arian Foster. On a team with arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Foster has still found a way to lead the league in rushing - 920 yards with a 5.3 yard per carry average and another 319 receiving. He's also the only running back in the NFL right now with double digit rushing touchdowns, and he's the only non-kicker who is in the Top Ten in individual scoring. When you consider that he was undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009, this is a great achievement.
Defensive Player of the Year: Clay Matthews (LB, Packers)
You could make the argument for a couple of guys, I'm sure. But I went with Matthews, who is currently leading the league in sacks with 10.5. That's not the only thing on his résumé, though. He's also forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, and has a defensive touchdown. He's arguably one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the league right now, and it's only his second year as a pro. When Rey Maualuga was viewed by many to be the best USC linebacker coming out in last year's draft, Clay Matthews has shown otherwise.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Bradford (QB, Rams)
No rookie has had a bigger impact on their team than Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, and it's not even close. He's helped turn a 1-15 team into a 4-5 team and possible division contender in the NFC West. His 78.2 passer rating is pretty good for a rookie quarterback, as is his 60.2% completion percentage, and 3:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Bradford's poise has been astounding; he hasn't thrown an interception since Week 5 of the 2010 season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh (DT, Lions)
When many proclaimed that rookie defensive tackles had a hard time making an immediate impact, Ndamukong Suh must have taken it to heart. The Lions' stud lineman currently leads all defensive tackles with 6.5 sacks through nine games, a number that would be outstanding for a sixteen-game season. He also has an interception on the season, as well as a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick (QB, Eagles)
Michael Vick is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL, and many - myself included - did not think he'd be an efficient or effective starter in this league again. But I don't think even his fans could have dreamed of the numbers he's putting up right now. Vick currently leads the league in passer rating - yes, I said passer rating - with an astonishing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. If he can maintain his 62.7% completion percentage, it will mark the only season of his career where he's finished above 60% in that category. He's added 341 rushing yards and 4 more touchdowns on top of that.
Coach of the Year: Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay)
Look, I'll be the first one to acknowledge that Tampa has been beating up on weaker teams while losing to stronger competition. I get it. But there's something to be said for Raheem Morris to have his team at 6-3 with double the number of wins his squad achieved last season. And he's doing it with a second-year quarterback, a carosel at running back that's slowly slowing down into a one-man show, and a rookie wide receiver leading the charge. You expect teams like the Jets, Ravens, Patriots, Saints, etc to be near the top of the league. But I don't think anyone expected Tampa Bay to have six wins at this point, even if they have come against weaker teams.
Some custom categories that I'm throwing in just for discussion's sake...
Surprise Team of the Year: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are currently sitting atop the AFC West with a perfect 3-0 division record. This from a team who has gone back and forth between Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback. Oakland is riding a three-game winning streak, which started with a complete demolition of the Broncos. Their real test is coming up with a road game against Pittsburgh, but right now, I think they're a pretty big surprise at 5-4 and first in the AFC West.
Disappointing Team of the Year: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were picked by many analysts to be a playoff team, with talk about them making it to the Super Bowl, which will be held in Dallas. They then proceeded to lose seven of their first eight games, resulting in the firing of head coach Wade Phillips. Jason Garrett took over and led the Cowboys to a win against the Giants, but will they be able to maintain success or was this simply a brief spark before a return to the basement of the league? Either way, their seven losses on the year are nothing short of a huge disappointment.
Overachiever of the Year: Brandon Lloyd (WR, Broncos)
Brandon Lloyd, a former fourth round pick in 2003, has hopped around a number of teams in the league. He started in San Francisco but left for Washington after three seasons. He did very little with the Redskins, then spent a year in Chicago. His first season in Denver in 2009 was rough; he played in only two games and had eight receptions. But he's come on like a bolt of lightning this season, leading the league in receiving yards (968), big play receptions (18), and one of the best per-catch averages in the league (20.2 ypc).
Underachiever of the Year: Brett Favre (QB, Vikings)
The summer drama was nothing knew, but many expected that the Vikings would be Super Bowl favorites if they could convince Brett Favre to return for another season. After all, Favre just had one of the best season of his career in 2009. But when Sidney Rice was lost for more than half the season, it should have been an omen. Favre has been mediocre at best, tossing 16 interceptions in nine games with only 10 touchdowns. He's been banged up and bruised basically since the season started, and his Vikings are only one game up on the 2-7 Lions. Favre has said that this will likely be his last season, and though I'll believe it when I see it, this would be an awful way for him to finish out his career.