By the end of this last week of NFL action a majority of teams have played exactly 8 games. This is the halfway point of the season, and we have discovered many things: the Packers are good, the Colts are bad, Albert Haynseworth still doesn’t give a shit, and if we don’t contain Tebow mania it might engulf the entire nation like that virus in The Stand. And because this is a pro football blog we feel compelled to hand out mid-season awards that don’t mean a damn thing. Ben and Nate share their selections below.
MVP (other than Aaron Rodgers)
Ben – Unless you are Skip Bayless, or a relative of his troll family, you know who the MVP of the first half of the season is. I have been a die-hard Packer fan since before Favre even came into the league, and I am quite biased to be sure, but on this issue it doesn’t matter because everyone else agrees with me too. Aaron Rodgers looks like he is inside of a game of Madden with the difficulty set on “Rookie”, and the opposing defense is being controlled by a drunk guy who has never played the game before. So with that in mind let’s talk about who the MVP of the league other than Aaron.
Everyone always debates about whether this award should truly go to the most valuable player, or to the best performance (on a winning team.) The fact of the matter is this will always be a blend of the two. It can’t always be the former because otherwise we’d just rename it the Peyton Manning trophy and be done with it. But I think I’m going to go away from the QB position and do the un-thinkable and give the coveted “MVP other than Aaron Rodgers for the first half of the season” trophy to a Chicago Bear.
Matt Forte has almost 50% of his team’s yards from scrimmage. That’s kind of insane. There are a lot of people making the case that he shouldn’t get a huge contract because of what has happened with Chris Johnson. But for one of the top five (maybe even top 2) running backs in football to be making basically the league minimum? That’s ridiculous. But if a big contract is a jinx I’m all for it. Pay the man!
Nate – Skip Bayless is my second cousin. Aaron Rodgers may be my vote for MVP, but I don’t think it’s as clear as Ben makes it. Mostly because I’ve always seen the MVP award as something that should be more exciting than just “who’s playing the best for the best team.” And Aaron Rodgers has a ton of great weapons. He has a defense that is pretty good at keeping the pressure off of his back. And I honestly think that if Matt Flynn starts on this team, the Packers wouldn’t be 0-8. They’d probably be more like 4-4.
The problem with throwing Rodgers out as top MVP candidate is, much like throwing the Packers out as the undisputed top team, there isn’t a clear cut number 2. I could say Drew Brees, who is going to obliterate the single season yardage record. I could say Matt Forte, but it’d be copying. So instead I’m going to go with Eli Manning. Manning needs credit for several reasons. Not only is he having his best season so far, but he has taken a New York Giants team that no one talked about in the preseason to a 6-2 record. People think that the Giants will fall off thanks to a brutal second half schedule, but who’s to say they will? Eli has been playing so well that he might be able to pull his team to victory against the tough teams. He proved last week that he can by going into Foxboro and beating the Patriots on a heroic last-minute drive. Going back to my point about Rodgers, do you think this team with a decimated offense would be 6-2 without Super Eli running the show? No way. They wouldn’t have beaten the Bills, the Patriots, or the Eagles, and they would have lost to the Seahawks by more. Maybe this new Eli can lift the Giants to new heights. And I think that’s worthy of an MVP mention.
Defensive Player of the (first half of the) Year
Ben – I’m going with Darelle Revis. Revis finally gets his. And by ‘his’ I mean an irrelevant award on a site no one has heard of.
Nate – My defensive player of the year is Jared Allen. Serious stats. Serious sacks. Serious facial hair. Need I say more?
Rookie of the (first half of the) Year
Ben – I’ve gone back and forth on this one. When the year started it seemed impossible to not say Cam Newton. He had multiple 400+ yard passing games, and seemed to really get the offense. He reminded us all that Steve Smith is a douchebag with talent, not just a douchebag being underthrown by Jimmy Claussen. There were some turnovers, sure, but you usually forgive that (to an extent) from a young QB. Then I saw what Andy Dalton has done, less flashy sure, but he’s efficient and he’s winning games. I was all set to give the Bengals signal caller the nod for the first half but then when I thought about it more I was starting to get this award mixed up with “The MVP award for rookies” which is not what I think it is. It simply means the best rookie, record be darned. And in that case I have to go back to Cam .
Also, for the record, I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about a college player coming out of the draft. I thought he’d be a bust. Not just a bust, a Jamarcus Russell bust. He never overly impressed me in college, just ran that stupid zone read play and college kids couldn’t tackle him. But now he looks like a complete QB. I think I figured it out; they just weren’t paying him enough at Auburn ! (rimshot)
Nate – I avoided copying Ben for the MVP, but I can’t here. Cam Newton has been playing out of his mind. Andy Dalton is benefitting from an underappreciated defense. That’s not to say he hasn’t been impressive, but I think the second half of the season will prove that Dalton is still a rookie.
And even though Cam’s team has lost most of their games, they are competitive. They have only lost one game by more than a touchdown, and they were winning for most of that game too. The Panthers have come so close, and the law of averages dictates that they’ll eventually start coming out on the better side of those games. Plus, and Ben touched on this, he should win this award for his rejuvenation of Steve Smith’s career alone.
Coach of the (first half of the) Year
Ben – Now this award I will give to a Bengal. Marvin Lewis lost his QB because of the erosion between Palmer and team owner Paul Brown’s relationship, and best two wide receivers to free agency and injury. Cedric Benson’s yards per carry was down to 3.5 in 2010 and the rookie QB they drafted to sit behind Palmer had to start right away. They had already started to mass-produce paper bags to cover their fans heads when a funny thing happened: they started to win football games. They still haven’t played the Steelers or the Ravens yet, so the second half of their season doesn’t look quite as bright but that’s not what these awards are about damnit!
Nate – I think this is the award with the most viable candidates. Lewis has worked miracles with the Bengals. Chan Gailey has seemingly recreated the movie The Replacements with his random assortment of rag-tag players (although making a comparison of Keanu Reeves and Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick might be the meanest thing done to Buffalo since moving the Buffalo Braves to San Diego). Jim Caldwell deserves a HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.
But of all of these names that deserve mention, it is clearly Jim Harbaugh that is the Coach of the Year through the midway point. Because, honestly: what have the 49ers changed from last year to this year? They dropped Mike Singeltary, who clearly couldn’t do it. And they hired Harbaugh, who clearly can. I’ve used the word “clearly” three times in this paragraph, and that’s because I think this is the most obvious choice of the awards. The award is usually given to a guy who makes a sucky team into a non-sucky team. If such a long and complicated phrase as “guy who makes a sucky team into a non-sucky team” were in the dictionary, Jim Harbaugh would slap the hand of that dictionary a little too hard.
Ben – Packers/Saints, week one. Suck it Nate! On a serious note, I’d have to say…wait, no, that’s seriously my pick.
Nate – That was a great game, Ben. I can’t wait until after the season when I can answer this question “Packers/Saints, NFC Championship. Suck it, Ben!” But until then, I think I have to choose the second game between the Ravens/Steelers, Week 9. The game was actually two games, both of them interesting. The first half was a defensive struggle; the second half was a tense battle for time and position. And for Joe Flacco to suddenly not be Joe Flacco for 92 yards was very impressive. I laughed, I cried, I poked fun at Big Ben. Would totally watch again.
Ben – For me its Torrey Smith’s game winning touchdown catch this last Sunday. It shifted the power in the AFC north and might have defined the conference’s best team. The fact that it took place in a game that showcased the league’s best rivalry doesn’t hurt either.
Nate – My biggest play of the year is also from last week. Patrick Peterson’s 99 yard punt return was not only the play that won the game, but it showcased Peterson’s speed and spin moves. Fun fact: Peterson already has tied the franchise record for punt return TDs – in his 8th game. One more and we’ll never have to say the name Vai Sikahema again. He’ll be the defensive rookie of the year winner, I bet. WAY NOT TO MAKE THAT CATEGORY, BEN.
Most Punchable Face
Ben – This is a particularly challenging award to hand out. For the last few years Jay Cutler has always been in the conversation. He’s got that look on his face like he just smoked his first joint and now he’s going to go surfing and/or have sex with your girlfriend. But this year I think his old buddy Philip Rivers has finally overtaken him. If you need any evidence, please look above.
Nate – Great choice, Ben. I’ve wanted to punch that bastard since he came into the league. But I think, right now, the most punchable face in the NFL for me is…
YEAH BEN! THAT’S RIGHT! MR. DISCOUNT DOUBLE CHECK HIMSELF! In reality, I like Aaron Rodgers, but right now he’s so good he deserves a punch in the face. Plus maybe it will make his nose look smaller.
Post your award winners (and even your own award categories) in the comments section!
Posted by The Footbawl Blog Staff