Its hard to believe that we are already at the halfway point of this tumultuous 2010 NFL season. There's been chaos (Favre), anarchy (Moss release), tomfoolery (McNabb benching), and chicanery (suspensions and fines for hits), and the weather hasn't turned frigid yet. Somehow the Jets have become almost a non-story, the Cowboys and Vikings have become afterthoughts, and the Chiefs, Bucs, Seahawks, and Rams are all surprisingly in playoff contention. This has been as a wacky a first half of the season as I can remember.
With that being said, we brought together a collection of heavy hitters to vote on who the best of the best truly were. Big thanks to the contributors of this piece: Joe Simmons, Kenny Masenda, Richard Boadu, The Rev. Paul Revere, The NFL Chick, Philip Barnett, Dragonfly Jonez, Claude Clayborne, and yours truly Eddie Maisonet, III. Enjoy the REAL first half awards of 2010, I'm sure you'll disagree with us too.
Coming into the season, there were very few people who figured on Arian Foster as the premier running back in the league. Foster is, without question, the Offensive MVP halfway through the NFL season. All the preseason talk was about Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. It is no secret that Peterson and Johnson have been the premier backs in the league since LaDainian Tomlinson surrendered that title.
The astute football aficionado saw this breakout coming at the end of last year when Foster had over 200 yards in the Texans' last two games of the season. Well on opening day Foster picked up where he left off and ran roughshod over the Colts, gaining 231 yards on 33 carries and he hasn’t looked back since. The undrafted, second year, 6’1” 230 pound running back out of the University of Tennessee is pure speed and power. He looks as if he is gliding through the hole, and when he finds a crease, he explodes like he was shot out of a cannon.
He is a classic back with a classic style all his own. If you wanted to compare his style to any, the first name that comes to mind is Eric Dickerson. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill as he begins his quest to be recognized as one of the leagues elite backs. I don’t think the pressure will bother him though, as he is built for the position.
There’s a part of me that wants to give DPOY to The Heisman (Charles Woodson) again, just off of general principle. Granted, the man isn’t leading in any statistical category, but he’s still making an impact. The problem is he may not even be the best defensive player on his team, since he’s playing with Clay Matthews. After tabulating the results for the ETSF Most Valuable Player, we were left with a man who one voter (The Rev) absolutely refuses to acknowledge, and another (Ed) who finds the irony in him being named so hilarious that he couldn’t breathe when he told me who it was. The man has been the butt of so many jokes for years now, but all of a sudden, he’s had a renaissance and is now the player we all envisioned he could be when he came out of Virginia Tech. Ladies and gentlemen, your ETSF MVP, at the halfway point, is none other than D’Angelo *bleeping* Hall.
I mean, this has to be some kind of sick joke. At least, that’s what you’re led to believe when you associate Hall’s name with the best at anything. Allow me to make something very clear; I’m a fan of D’Angelo Hall. I was a fan in college, and despite the fact that he’s been more bite than bark in his career, I remain a fan of him. Maybe it was seeing him force a fumble and return it for a touchdown at the half against the Cowboys that set things off. Perhaps it was the four-INT game he had against the Bears a while back (including one pick returned for a TD) that caught people’s eye. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s living up to his potential when he signed that ridiculous contract with the ‘Skins. Either way it goes, the man is leading The League in picks and has scored off a fumble and an interception. Plus, his team is in the mix of their division.
No matter how awkward this looks, and whether we really wanna believe it, the best defensive player in the NFL so far is D’Angelo Hall, and if this keeps up, he’ll be the Defensive MVP for the entire year.
Sam Bradford has silenced the critics with great play and a "gosh gee willikers" look to him. Being the die-hard Sooner fan that I am, I must admit I was worried about him. Point-blank, the Rams have sucked over the past few years, and I didn’t want Sam going into that situation, especially with their offensive line. Sam is showing us why he’s making 50 million bucks.
My friend CJ Clayborne said for 50 million bucks, Sam better take the team to the playoffs, the players out to eat, their wives to the spa, and their kids skating. I think he should just have a good season, which he is doing. Bradford has the Rams in prime position for a playoff spot at 4-4. It’d be easy to compare him to other rookies playing this year, but what about Peyton Manning? How does Bradford, the 2010 No.1 overall pick, stack up to the league's greatest QB of all-time (we can debate about that later folks) who was also the Number One overall pick in 1998?
Peyton wasted no time throwing for 302 yards in his first game, but at the same time, he only threw one TD vs. three picks and lost the game. Sam faced baptism under fire also by throwing the ball 55 times and tossing one TD pass and three picks also as his team lost to the Cardinals. Let’s play guess the stat line…
55.0 Comp %, 1,773 yards, 11 TDs, 16 Ints, 66.0 QB rating
58.6 Comp %, 1,674 yards, 11 TDs, eight Ints, 75.9 QB rating
Take a wild guess at who’s who. Peyton Manning is up-top and Sammy B is below. Crazy huh? They both have attempted the same number of passes through eight games. Peyton has more yards, but that’s about it. The telling stat is the interceptions. Right now, Sam has half as many picks as Peyton and his QB rating is much better because of that. The most important stat isn’t shown and that’s win-loss record with Peyton going 1-7 vs. Bradford’s 4-4 through the first eight games.
Who knows if Sam goes into a sophomore slump next year, but all I know now is that he’s on a Rookie Rampage and taking names, pride, and wins, when all he was expected to do was break like glass under his skinny frame.
With all due respect to guys like Eric Berry, Rolando McClain, Nate Allen, Javier Arenas and all the other defensive rookie, Ndamukong Suh is, without question, the Defensive Rookie of the Year so far. There's no debating that at all. In fact, he may be as good as any defensive player in the entire league already. Yeah, I said it. Through seven games, Suh already has seven sacks, trailing only Clay Matthews (9.5), Osi Umenyiora (eight) and DeMarcus Ware (eight). Those three guys are defensive ends/outside linebackers. Suh is a defensive tackle. He already has an interception - against the man who is the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year no less, as a defensive tackle.
He has 22 solo tackles, 27 overall, as a defensive tackle. And last week, he scored his first NFL touchdown to ice the game.
Did I mention he's a defensive tackle? He's also the NFL Rookie of the Year. And a Pro Bowler. No question about it.
With a strong running game, solid defense and great special teams, the Chiefs are one of the mid-season surprise teams of 2010.
Not to be paralleled with the 2009 Denver Broncos (who started the first half of their season 6-2, then promptly came out in the second half and went 2-6), Todd Haley is out to prove that the Kansas City Chiefs' 5-2 record is anything but a fluke this season. A win over the Oakland Raiders this weekend could further widen the gap of the division and lean even closer to clinching a spot in the playoffs. I'm sold, I think the Chiefs are for real, and its because of Todd Haley (and an awesome coaching staff made up of former Patriots' coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis) that they've done so well thus far.
Coming into this season, the Cowboys were a team many thought had a shot at hosting this year’s Super Bowl. Eight games into the season and the Cowboys harsh reality is this: they’re not going to even make the playoffs.
What Wade Phillips has failed to understand is that it takes more than just a jumbled collection of talent to win football games; it takes chemistry, accountability and the ability to run the damn football. If you can’t run the ball or stop the run, you’re not winning football games -- and you’re not doing your job as the head coach. These principles are as basic as they come, and if you can’t recognize that, not only do you not have any business coaching America’s team, but you don’t have any business coaching football at any level.
His stats aren’t gonna jump off the page at you, but all the kid does is win, win, win; no matter what. Well, win as much as a Buccaneer can. From his first career start in Week Seven of last season, he was a winner. In that game, as a 21-year-old starter, he broke a Tampa Bay 11-game losing streak that spanned two seasons. In fact, he won his first game in the way that he’s won most of the games in his career: by leading a fourth quarter comeback. He’s won eight out of the 17 games he’s started, and six of those eight wins were fourth quarter comebacks. I know a QB going winning eight out of 17 might seem mediocre, but keep in mind that these are the Bucs we’re talking about. Check their wiki. They have a section called “2003-2008: Period of Struggle”. Can’t make this stuff up. Anyhow, Freeman has led 5-2 Tampa to four fourth quarter comebacks this season. He’s almost single-handedly taken the Bucs from cellar dwellers to division contenders in the cumulative span of one full season.
Somebody cue that DJ Khaled track up for me one time.
While many of the Bengals faithful may blame the woes of the team on owner Mike Brown, the reality of the situation is the problems should be placed firmly on the shoulders of Carson Palmer. Who else gets booed when they pass the career 20,000 yards passing mark?
Palmer is sporting a gaudy 83.0 quarterback rating with 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions. Last year, it seemed the common perception was that it was a good year that would have been better if he had more weapons after Chris Henry (RIP homie) passed. This year he is surrounded by T.O, @ogochocinco, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, Cedric Benson and company. It’s not surprising to see that he is ranked seventh in the league in total passing yards, but the win-loss record of 2-5 is what’s most telling.
When it was announced during the game that Carson Palmer surpassed 20,000 yards passing in his career, it was somewhat surprising. It's not like he was playing in Pittsburgh, where anything Bengals-related would get booed, or in Baltimore where anything Bengals-related would have Ray Lewis suddenly foaming at the mouth, because he likes foaming at the mouth. It was his own fans booing him. Why? Because despite being ranked seventh in passing yards, he’s making terrible decisions at crucial moments in the game. Normally, the blame is unfairly placed on the QB, but no; it really is Carson’s fault. T.O. is balling like he’s 23 again, Ocho is nowhere to be found, because Carson isn’t going through his progressions, and everyone else gets lost in the suck sauce of Palmer as well.
At the end of the day Palmer needs to step it up, because we all know the Bengals defense won't.
This is how its supposed to be in the Super Bowl. You bring in arguably one of the best offensive teams in the NFL to face-off against arguably one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. The Ravens and the Saints represent excellence on one side of the ball, and they each have another side of the ball that's continually searching for respect. Truth be told, they are probably the two most balanced teams in their conference, and they have the leaders anyone would want to have leading them into the ultimate battle on the gridiron in Ray Lewis and Drew Brees.
Wait, so you're telling me you wouldn't get hype as all get out if you saw Ray-Ray do his dance and Cool Brees chant his battle cry? I'm already hype over here hitting the dougie John Wall style and hitting that Houston southside simultaneously.
Disagree with our list? Let us know in the comments section...HUGE thanks to all of our contributors! Enjoy the weekend.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!