In lieu of the reboot of the OOH Awards that coming soon for you to vote on at the close of Season Three, I’m going to present my Half-Season Awards (as always sponsored by Honest Jim)
So here goes, starting with the Coach of the Year. Different folks can have their own criteria for who gets this one. It could be the best record, most improved, decent record with good wins, or it could be giving it Ben as he has won a game this year already (go Ben!). But my midyear choice goes to the Paul and the Tennessee Titans. After widespread rumours (unproven-ish) of tanking last year, Titans have bounced back with 7 wins out of the first 8. The main reason for the great start has to be the water tight run defence (44 ypg) and a defense only conceding an average 13 point per match. The remaining schedule looks tricky but all games are winnable, the Titans are HJ pick to get home field advantage in the post season. Can they do it without Marcus Mariota after a surprise deadline day trade to the New York Jets? Their season is now in the hands and health of sophomore Wyatt Benoit.
Next up and the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. I’m going to give it to a player who was booed by his own fan base on draft day, and destroyed on social media by the rest of the league. This man has got 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a touchdown. Yes, its George Bogle of the Atlanta Falcons. There were many a raised eyebrow when the outside linebacker from Auburn was taken with the 7th pick, but he has answered the critics in style with his early season performances. Can he keep the production up for the rest of the season, or will he hit the rookie wall? If the Falcons are to make the playoffs, then they will be relying on this man.
Onto the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and for me it comes down to two players. The first candidate is Alex Crockett of the New Orleans. Crockett was taken with pick 21 of the first round, and already looks like a veteran, leading his side to a 4-3 start. He already has shown he has the tools to become an elite QB in the NFL, and the Saints look to have their next 10-year starter. Crockett was very close to getting the nod, but my choice for the award is Cornell Ragland of the Miami Dolphins. Taken with the 25th pick of the 1st round, Ragland already has 5 touchdowns, and has beaten 75 yards in five of his seven games. He looks to be going from strength to strength. There were questions as to whether he could take his form from a great college career in Florida State into the big leagues, but he has answered the doubters in style. In a season where a lot of the sides are struggling to move the ball on the ground, he is averaging 5.5 yards a clip and the Dolphins have the 7th best running attack in the league. This balanced runner could be one to watch for years to come.
Were now getting towards the big boy awards, and the rule we set in the league is that there must be three different names for the next three awards. So, to the Defensive Player of the Year., This is a very tough one to call as no one player stands out so there can be valid arguments for several candidates. Honest Jim always puts his money where his mouth is, and gives this one to DeForest Buckner of the San Francisco 49ers. This big lineman has been a dominating presence on the line of scrimmage and at this point in the season he already had 7.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles It sure wouldn’t be a surprise if he hit 20 sacks this campaign. The 49ers are short odds to be heading back to the Super Bowl in February, and if Bucknor can continue this start who would bet against them.
Who has won the Offensive Player of the Year? I’m going to give this one to Thomas Rawls of the Seattle Seahawks. This season the Hawks have the number one ground attack and the reason for that is Rawls. His numbers this season are stellar. 827 yards at 5.2 yards a carry, with 7 touchdowns. In five of seven games, he has gone over the magic 100 yards’ marker. The Seahawks are 6-2, with both defeats against the 49ers, I fully expect to see Rawls pounding the rock in the wildcard game and beyond later in the year.
Finally, the Most Valuable Player. With the #1 passing attack in the league, and the #1 in offensive points scored, this award goes to Matt Stafford of the San Diego Chargers. The numbers this quarterback has put up in leading the Chargers to a 6-1 record are off the charts. 77.2% completion rate, 138.5 passer rating, and a 20/6 TD/INT ratio. Can he keep this pace up and lead the Chargers once again deep into the post season? HJ says yes, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the veteran holding aloft the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
So, that completes the mid-year awards, Look out for more info at the end of the season as you will all be sent a link to the ballot where you vote for the Season 3 Awards. It would be great if you all could take the 5min or so to fill it in. I’ll send you the nominations with a quick bio of the player’s season so all you need to do is have a think and press click.
Then in the lull between the end of the regular season and the start of free agency, one evening get your best suit on for awards night – we might even throw in some fun awards to keep in light hearted.