Oct 27, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs for a first down against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Halfway through the season the pictures for every major NFL award has begun to take shape from MVP to Rookie of the Year. Which names are currently favorites for the top honors?
MVP: Tom Brady – New England Patriots
Peyton Manning typically will get first consideration as should Aaron Rodgers but there is no question the MVP, which stands for Most VALUABLE Player has to go to Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Like Adrian Peterson a year ago, it’s staggering to think where the Pats might be if Brady weren’t on the field. They lost three of their top receivers to free agency and an arrest and three of their best defenders to injury including two season-enders. Yet, in spite of it all, the 36-year-old quarterback continues to find ways to manufacture enough points to win games. New England is 6-2 at the halfway point and firmly in contention for home field advantage for the playoffs.
Defensive Player of the Year: Sean Lee – Dallas Cowboys
The hardest part about these awards is remembering they go to players and not teams. So it’s easy to miss how great a player is doing despite the rest of the unit around him struggling. Such is the case with Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee. Currently his team ranks near the bottom in most defensive categories, which is a real shame because he is having an incredible season. Just eight games in he already has 81 tackles to go along with four interceptions and a touchdown. Like with Brady, if the Cowboys are this bad with Lee, it’s a struggle to imagine how much worse it could get without him.
Rushing Champion: LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
Unlike other award categories this is solely based on the stat line. Eight weeks into the season and a surprise name sits atop the rushing list in LeSean McCoy. The Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly have found the perfect ways to utilize his running style and it has paid big dividends. McCoy currently holds a 98-yard lead over the next closest challenger, Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs. If his offensive line stays healthy and the Eagles can get more help from the quarterback position, McCoy could be in line for his first, well-deserved rushing title.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Terrance Williams – Dallas Cowboys
This one was difficult to gauge because the rookie quarterback class is really floundering right now and most of the top offensive players taken in the draft were offensive linemen. Eddie Lacy deserves prime consideration for what he’s done in Green Bay but the rookie that has caught everybody by surprise is Terrance Williams. With Miles Austin hurt again, he has stepped up for the Dallas Cowboys in helping them lead the NFC East division through the first half of the season. He leads all rookie wide receivers with 444 yards and four touchdowns. His seven catches for 20 yards or more and 20 catches for first downs are also tops. He’s further proof that Baylor has become the defacto WideReceiverUniversity over the past couple years with talents like Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright also making highlight reel plays.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso – Buffalo Bills
This choice is a little easier to make. That is how good Kiko Alonso has been for an otherwise pretty questionable Buffalo Bills defense. The linebacker out of Oregon came into the NFL with lots of questions about his character and he has since provided plenty of answer. Not only is he tied for the league lead with four interceptions, he ranks second overall with 81 tackles. Throw a sack and a forced fumble on top of that and there really isn’t much else the rookie can do to show he belongs on the pro level. The production might taper off but if he can make a few more impact plays it will be very hard for voters to not hand him this award.
Comeback Player of the Year: Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
There are a lot of names that could occupy this category but most of them are mild possibilities. There is really only one name that is a clear-cut contender. Philip Rivers came out of 2012 appearing on the downside of his career. He was turning the ball over way too much and didn’t seem to have control of the offense like in years past. The hope was new head coach Mike McCoy could turn him around and recapture his Pro Bowl form. That gamble has appeared to pay off. Rivers is on pace to set a career high in completion percentage, and top 4,200 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He also hasn’t fumbled so far this season after having 15 a year ago.
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid – Kansas City Chiefs
Unlike other categories, there is no other choice. Experts might try to make a case but they would be wrong. Barring a huge meltdown the unquestioned Coach of the Year award has to go to Andy Reid. After his falling out in Philadelphia, he took over a Kansas City Chiefs team that had just gone 2-14 and held the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Under his guidance the team has experienced a phoenix-like rebirth. Through eight weeks they are the only undefeated team left in the league and 95 percent of the credit has to go to their head coach.