Here is a list of the National Football League first half awards compiled by Charu Robinson and Derrel “Jazz” Johnson.
MVP: Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Coming off of a Super Bowl championship, Aaron Rodgers has picked up right where he left off. He is playing the best football in the league. He has put himself in the class of quarterbacks Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts by leading the Packers to an 8-0 record, and playing almost flawless football. Rodgers has thrown for 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and is leading the league with an absurd 129.1 QB rating. Saying he has been efficient is the understatement of the year. These statistics can arguably be misleading, because he has been the victim of several drops from his receivers. The Green Bay Packers, who rank near the bottom of the league in defense, have still been unbeatable due to Rodgers and his remarkable performance. At this rate the Packers are poised to win another Super Bowl, with Rodgers winning league MVP honors.
Rookie of the Year: Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton
After going undefeated with the Auburn Tigers, winning the Heisman trophy, winning the BCS championship, and being the #1 pick in the NFL draft last season, you wondered where Cam Newton would go from there. How about being the first rookie to throw for over 400 yards in his first two games, and finishing the first half of the season second in the league in passing yards? Newton leads the Carolina Panthers in passing and rushing touchdowns, and even though their record of 2-6 leaves much to be desired, there is now hope in this once declining franchise. Newton has seamlessly transitioned into the NFL, and his rookie status has not prevented him from being considered one of the better quarterbacks in the game. He has displayed poise and maturity beyond his years, and is set to redefine the position. With limited talent around him, his full potential has yet to be seen. He still needs to put some more wins on the board, but so far this season he has clearly been the most outstanding rookie.
Defensive Player of the Year: New York Jets Cornerback Darrelle Revis
After being robbed of the Defensive Player of the Year Award two years ago, Darrelle Revis is running away with the award this season. He has intercepted four passes thus far this season, including pivotal pick offs against the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and San Diego Chargers, and leads the NFL in interception return yards with 184. For some strange reason, teams are challenging Revis more this season, which is benefiting the Jets defense. Only an injury appears to be able to prevent Revis from winning the award this season.
First Half Champion: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are the only undefeated team left at 8-0, and, mostly due to Aaron Rodger’s brilliance, have at times seemed unbeatable. The Packers have not had the toughest of schedules in the first half, but they do have wins against +.500 teams like the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, and Atlanta Falcons, and the goal is to beat whoever is on your schedule, and Green Bay has certainly done that every week. Their offense has been phenomenal, leading the NFL with 32.1 points per game. The only flaw with the team is that their defense could be more consistent. If the defense ever catches up with their offense, watch out!
Most Surprising Team: Buffalo Bills
All those who thought that at the end of the first half the Buffalo Bills would be in first place in the AFC with the New England Patriots and New York Jets raise your hand. If you’ve raised your hand you will have to answer to God. The Bills shocked the nation with a Week three comeback victory over New England 34-31, putting them at 3-0. That win appeared to solidify their confidence and now they must be considered a true contender. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played very well, (seventh in the league with a 95.3 QB Rating) along with running back Fred Jackson, who is 3rd in the league with 803 rushing yards. There was not a sports reporter anywhere talking about the Bills being a factor this year. This is why they play the games. Are the Bills for real? The second half will tell. If they keep getting this production out of their offense, (they are tied for second in the AFC with 222 points scored) the Bills will remain competitive. They are, however, the league’s biggest first-half surprise.
Most Disappointing Team: Indianapolis Colts
Okay, we knew this team would struggle without quarterback Peyton Manning, but I don’t think anyone thought they would be this bad. They are now 0-9, including a 62-7 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. They are now the front runners for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Yes, Manning is extremely valuable, and no one expected the offense to be nearly as functional without him, but he doesn’t play defense, so how do you explain giving up 62 points and being last in the league, giving up an average of 31.5 points per game? It is understood that their defense is mostly designed to maintain late-game leads, which means it is primarily a speed based, pass-rushing defense. That still, however, is no excuse. The Colts appear to have lost their heart, and show no resemblance whatsoever to the team that has accumulated an impressive string of 10+ win seasons. This is not the NBA so one player should not make this much of a difference. The Eagles also have been a big disappointment. Yours truly picked them as the #3 Super Bowl contender, but have resided in the cellar of the NFC East for the first half. But Indianapolis’ total non competitiveness makes them the winners of the Most Disappointing Team Award for the first half.
Coach of the Year: Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
At 8-0, the Green Bay Packers are halfway to an undefeated season. They have a tough schedule ahead in the second half, including two games against the Detroit Lions and a visit to the New York Giants, and if they can attain a perfect season, or even 15-1 or 14-2, Mike McCarthy would have done a great job. While the offense has been flawless led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the defense leaves a lot to be desired of, and if this team has an Achille’s Heel that will lead to a loss, it is the defense. I see them at least coming close to a perfect season, as no team has come close to slowing them down.