What better way to celebrate halftime of the 2016 NFL season than by doling out some coveted midseason awards to commemorate the good, bad and ugly of the first two months.
Matt Ryan has been flammable for two months to help the Falcons to a two-game lead in the NFC South. Matty Ice is the NFL leader in passing yards (2,636) and touchdowns (19). He’s my slam-dunk MVP so far (Sorry, Tom Brady).
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Cam Newton went from MVP to LVP in a hurry, didn’t he? The 2-5 Panthers are a mess thanks, in part, to Newton’s awful first half that includes anemic numbers that rank him near the bottom in just about every meaningful statistical category. His prickly/childish post-game antics have resurfaced too. Shocking.
Rookie of the Year
Ezekiel Elliott is the ultimate no-brainer. Jerry Jones might have wanted Joey Bosa, but Elliott is a nice consolation prize. The former Ohio State star is the NFL rushing leader at the midpoint of the season. Don’t count me among the group that believes he even deserves MVP consideration, but there’s no denying that the rookie running back is the engine of Jones’— I mean, Jason Garrett’s — team. Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record (1,808 yards) isn’t safe … if Elliott remains on the field. A possible league suspension stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident in the offseason could cloud matters.
DeMarco Murray, one year removed from Chip Kelly’s doghouse in Philly, is once again showing signs of life.
Comeback Player of the Year
It’s easy to forget that DeMarco Murray won the NFL rushing title two years after his miserable one-year experience in Chip Kelly’s hokey offense in Philly. He looks re-born in the Titans’ exotic-smash mouth offense with 953 total yards (756 rushing) and eight touchdowns.
Most Surprising Team (in a good way)
Mark Davis is already planning his escape to Sin City, but the Raiders have a pretty good thing going this year. Who would have believed that Oakland (6-2) would be tied atop the AFC West? Jack Del Rio’s team is 5-0 on the road, which is borderline ridiculous.
Most Surprising Team (in a bad way)
Raise your hand if you thought the Panthers would be in the NFC South cellar? Newton’s struggles coupled with a horrific secondary has doomed Ron Rivera’s squad. Maybe letting Josh Norman walk in the offseason wasn’t the brightest idea after all.
Cam Newton and the Panthers have been one of the season’s big disappointments.
(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Coach of the Year
Mike Zimmer edges out Bill Belichick after the Vikings overcame injuries to their starting quarterback, star running back and both starting tackles to claim the top spot in the NFC North. Teddy Bridgewater’s gruesome season-ending knee injuries in practice two weeks before the start of the regular season was a crushing blow. Adrian Peterson’s knee injury in Week 2 was supposed to be insurmountable. Losing both tackles was supposed to finish them off. But Minnesota forges on thanks to a suffocating defense that is every bit as good as Denver’s championship one from a year ago.
The Hoodie would have earned the honor in any other year after winning three of four games without Tom Brady.
Worst Coaching Job of the Year
Gus Bradley is still employed despite being 14-41 in the past four-and-a-half seasons in Jacksonville. The Jaguars were expected to make some noise in the weak AFC South. Instead, they’re 2-5 and looking up at everyone else, as usual. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was the first on the chopping block. Barring a miracle second-half revival, Bradley will likely be next after the season.
Who in the AFC is bringing down Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots?
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Executive of the Year
Rick Spielman might seem like the obvious choice after he landed Sam Bradford eight days before Week 1, but we’re giving the honor to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman for have the chutzpah to trade away his starting quarterback less than two weeks before the beginning of the regular season. This was supposed to be a red-shirt year for rookie Carson Wentz, but Roseman’s brilliant deal to recoup a first first-rounder that Philly lost in trading up to draft Wentz should be lauded. A first- and conditional mid-round pick for Sam Freakin’ Bradford? Bravo, Mr. Roseman. It was a banner offseason for the Eagles head man, who cleaned up the mess left by Chip Kelly with a series of trades and signings that bode well for the future.
The Vikings-Eagles trade appears to be a rare win-win.
Best Free Agent signing
Marvin Jones isn’t Calvin Johnson, but he’s a pretty decent replacement. Just ask Matthew Stafford, who has developed instant chemistry with the former Bengals wide receiver. Jones is fifth in the league with 656 receiving yards on 18.2 yards per catch in his first eight games in Detroit. He’ll never be Megatron. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Super Bowl Prediction
The Tom Brady F.U. Tour won’t be denied in the AFC. Gisele’s hubby has 12 TDs, no INTs and a 133.9 passer rating in four games. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, the Steelers could give the Evil Empire a run for their money. Maybe.
It’s the Wild Wild West in the NFC. Plenty of good offenses, but only one championship-level defense. The Vikings aren’t flashy. They don’t run the ball well. They’re boring. But that defense is scary good. I’d love to see it go up against Brady.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News