I, like most men, love creating lists and arguing about them. Alas, here is my first annual Midseason Awards. No major surprises of who is at the top of the lists, but a few surprises as to what players are in the running.
1. Aaron Rodgers (Packers) – He is the best player on the last undefeated team. He is the league leader in passer rating (125.7), 3rd in passing yards (2,372), 1st in average yards per pass (9.9), 1st in touchdown passes (20) and has thrown only 3 interceptions. The lowest passer rating he has had in a game this year is 111.4. Hard to argue against Rodgers this year.
2. Tom Brady (Patriots) – The most impressive part of Brady’s season is that he’s putting up huge numbers on a Patriots team whose defense has the least amount of talent its had in years. The Patriots defense is ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed (424.1), last in yards per play (6.4), last in passing yards per game (323.1), 27th in opposing quarterback rating (92.9), and tied for 22nd in sacks (15). Brady has to be on top of his game every week as he is constantly in a shootout. That said, he is 4th in passing yards (2,361), 2nd in passer rating (104.4), 3rd in average yards per pass (8.8), and 4th in touchdown passes (18).
3. Eli Manning (Giants) – Wait……who? I must have the wrong Manning right? Not this year. Eli Manning is having the best season of his career, and without the help of a consistent running game. The once vaunted Giants rushing attack is currently ranked 30th, averaging 85.6 yards per game, while averaging a putrid 3.2 yards per rush. Despite the offense being one-dimensional, Eli is ranked 3rd in quarterback rating (102.1), 7th in passing yards (2,127), 2nd in average yards per pass (8.8), while throwing for 13 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Maybe Eli was just foreshadowing in the preseason when he said he was an elite quarterback, because this year, he is.
4. Calvin Johnson (Lions) – Just because you are a former player doesn’t mean you qualify as an analyst. I’m looking at you Chris Carter for stating before the season that “Megatron” was not a Top 5 wide receiver. Johnson has been nothing short of dominant this year. He is 2nd in the NFL in receptions (47), 3rd in yards (804), and 1st in TD catches (11). Randy Moss’s single season receiving touchdown record of 23 is well within reach.
5. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills) – When was the last time the Bills were in playoff contention this late in the year? Does the “Music City Miracle” ring a bell? The Bills are the surprise team of the AFC this year, and a lot of that is due to Fitzpatrick having a breakout season. His quarterback rating of 97.8 is currently 6th in the NFL, ahead of established quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, and Tony Romo. He is also 3rd in the NFL in completion percentage (67.7) while throwing for 14 TD’s and 7 INT’s. Last week, he was rewarded for his breakout season with a $59 million dollar contract extension over 6 years, with $24 million guaranteed. Great move by the Bills locking him up long term.
Coach of the Year
1. Chan Gailey (Bills) – This was by far the hardest choice among midseason awards. To me, it’s splitting hairs between Gailey and Harbaugh. I give Gailey the nod due to the tougher division the Bills play in, and the Bills haven’t been projected for success in years, while the 49ers were expected to win the NFC West last year.
2. Jim Harbaugh (49ers) – I have no problem with people picking Harbaugh to be Coach of the Year. He has made Alex Smith look like a halfway decent quarterback, and most important, made his team believe they can win, now. Along with the Bills and Lions, the 49ers are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year.
3. Jim Schwartz (Lions) – For a team to come back from 20 points down two straight weeks is a direct reflection of the coach. He has taken the Lions young talent and made them into winners. Any other year, Schwartz wins this award going away.
4. Tom Coughlin (Giants) – Why is Tom Coughlin on this list? It’s because the Giants have been hit so hard by injuries and are still 5-2. The Giants lost their starting MLB, starting CB, KR/PR, 2nd round pick DT, and dime CB to injured reserve this year. Not to mention, other key players Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Chris Snee, and Brandon Jacobs have missed games to various injuries this year. He’s done a fantastic job with what he’s had to work with.
5. Mike McCarthy (Packers) – McCarthy continues to be the most underrated coach, as his name is hardly mentioned among the best coaches in the NFL. It’s hard to put a guy whose team is 7-0 5th on this list, but this year, there has been THAT many great coaching jobs throughout the NFL.
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Calvin Johnson (Lions) – The best WR in the NFL this year, hands down.
2. Aaron Rodgers (Packers) – How do you gameplan for this guy?
3. Matt Forte (Bears) – What more does this guy have to do to get a contract extension?
4. Tom Brady (Patriots) – If it’s possible, he seems to be getting better with age.
5. Fred Jackson (Bills) - Is up next for a contract extension after his breakout year.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Demarcus Ware (Cowboys) – The best pass rushing OLB since LT? Absolutely.
2. Jared Allen (Vikings) – Only consistent defender on a defense in lower 3rd of NFL.
3. George Wilson (Bills) – Get to know him, he’s REALLY good.
4. Darrelle Revis (Jets) – They don’t call it “Revis Island” for nothing.
5. Charles Woodson (Packers) – Older he gets, better he gets. Still a force @ 35.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. Cam Newton (Panthers) – What rookie struggling? 2 400 yard games to start his career.
2. Andy Daulton (Bengals) – 1 of the big reasons Bengals are 5-2 is his consistent play.
3. AJ Green (Bengals) – I thought rookie WR’s were supposed to struggle? Not this guy.
4. Julio Jones (Falcons) – Needs to stay healthy, but making an impact.
5. Mark Ingram (Saints) – Leads rookie RB’s in TD’s.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. Von Miller (Broncos) – Only defender on Broncos D to account for, and still has 6 sacks.
2. Aldon Smith (49ers) – Leads all rookies with 6.5 sacks.
3. Marcel Dareus (Bills) – Might move inside to create more pass rush? That’s scary.
4. Phillip Taylor (Browns) – NT for a team that is 5th in the NFL in total defense.
5. Ryan Kerrigan (Redskins) – A force to deal with on the other side of Orakpo.
Assistant Coach of the Year
1. Rob Chudzinski (Panthers) – Gets a lot of credit for the year Cam Newton is having.
2. Jay Gruden (Bengals) – Daulton looked lost in the preseason, not in the regular season.
3. Mike Zimmer (Bengals) – Lost top CB Jonathan Joseph & still has 4th ranked defense.
4. Dick Jauron (Browns) – Has led a young defense to rank 5th in total yards
5. Wade Phillips (Texans) – Texans always had the defensive talent, Phillips has made it gel.
Agree? Disagree? Comment below.