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- Pokorny's Mid-Season NFL Awards

Chris Pokorny November 11, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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Even though the time period after Week 9 is technically past the half-way point of the season slightly, it's always fun to take a look back at what has transpired over the first half of the year. I will award certain players and teams based on what they have excelled at this year. In addition to that, we can't forget about the things that have gone wrong. It's too hard to break things down by the NFL in general, so I'm going to break things down into conferences.


Individual Player Awards
Best Quarterback: Peyton Manning. Granted, he is not having the same statistical season as he did last year. However, you cannot go against a man who is still having a great season while leading his team to 8-0 in the first half. Manning may have made the best adjustment by not scoring too quickly, allowing the running game to knock time off the clock.
Runner(s) Up: Jake Plummer: Plummer has suddenly become consistently good.

Best Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson. With the exception of the game against the Eagles, the key for the Chargers winning has been Tomlinson. He is running the ball, catching the ball, and even throwing the ball great. If the Chargers had used him more wisely earlier in the season, they would probably have a better record right now.
Runner(s) Up: Edgerrin James: James has been nearly just as good as Tomlinson.

Best Wide Receiver: Chad Johnson. Is the NFL dominated by NFC wide-outs right now? Of the top ten receivers in yardage, Johnson is the only representative of the AFC to be found. Anyways, Johnson is having another great year with Palmer quarterbacking. He's making clutch catches and even seems to have toned down his antics somewhat. That is a "slim" somewhat.
Runner(s) Up: Marvin Harrison: He probably could have won the award, but we already know that he's great every year. Johnson has the slight edge over him since Wayne is beside Harrison.

Best Tight End: Antonio Gates. For some reason, the tight end class seemed a lot stronger last year. Gates has followed up his outstanding season from last year with another fantastic performance. He and Tomlinson make the Chargers offense dangerous.
Runner(s) Up: Heath Miller: He is getting the job done by getting open in the end zone for Roethlisberger by already hauling in six touchdowns.

Best Kicker: Phil Dawson. No one in the AFC has really stood out this year with game winners, but Dawson has the best accuracy in his conference this year. He was 15-of-15 this year until his missed one this past Sunday due to major wind factors.
Runner(s) Up: Nate Kaeding: He has followed up a poor postseason with a strong effort this year so far.

Best Returner: Jerome Mathis. He only returns kickoffs, but he has been a bright spot for the Texans with a 30.4 average per return, including one touchdown.
Runner(s) Up: Terrence McGee: He has a higher average than Mathis, and basically came into a tie with him.

Dissappointing Quarterback: J.P. Losman. Although he only had a few starts, Losman was not up to speed as the Bills had hoped. At times, he wasn't even able to get a first down forever it seemed. When the Bills so their chances of contending early on falling, they had to pull him for Holcomb.
Runner(s) Up: Chad Pennington: Besides his season ending injury, it seemed like he was never healthy.

Dissappointing Running Back: Jamal Lewis. There were rumors he would struggle coming off jail time, but no one expected it to be this bad. Lewis' lack of production has removed the lone threat that the Ravens have had offensively this year.
Runner(s) Up: Corey Dillon: He still has yet to really get it going this year. The Patriots running game seems to have forced Brady to go to the air too often.

Dissappointing Wide Receiver: Andre Johnson. He's missed some time due to injury, but Johnson has not even come close to the "improvement" that was expected of him as his career continues.
Runner(s) Up: Justin McCareins, Brandon Stokley: Not a single touchdown grab yet for the Jets with McCareins. Stokley really isn't doing anything wrong, but his stats have fallen tremendously from last year.

Dissappointing Tight End: Doug Jolley. Getting Jolley wasn't cheap for the Jets, and he has yet to make a significant impact.
Runner(s) Up: Tony Gonzalez: Only one touchdown grab so far. He won't be comparing stats with Gates this year.

Dissappointing Kicker: Mike Nugent. After doing so well at Ohio State, the Jets hoped that Nugent would be automatic. He has not had the greatest rookie season.
Runner(s) Up: Jason Elam: Hasn't been a negative for Denver too much, but he needs to improve his accuracy.

Comeback Player: Ricky Williams. Williams did not do anything overwhelming, but I can't think of anyone in the AFC who did bad last year and is finding success this year. Williams has come on strong the past two games.
Runner(s) Up: Trent Dilfer: Dilfer has not even played that great, which shows you that no one in the AFC really shined out of no where.

Team Effort Awards
Now that the individual awards are done, let's move on to the AFC team awards. These awards represent teams in general, rather than individual players.

Team of the Year: Indianapolis Colts. Without a doubt, the Colts have been a complete football team in terms of offense and defense. At 8-0, no one better even come close to arguing that they have not played the best football through nine weeks.
Runner(s) Up: Denver Broncos: More explanation in award listed below.

Worst Team of the Year: Houston Texans. They have started to do better the past few weeks, but there is no excuse for this team still allowing David Carr to be thrown around like a rag doll.
Runner(s) Up: Tennessee Titans: They have fought hard, but there defense simply allows too many points and are still very young.

Dissapointment of the Year: New York Jets. An injury to Chad Pennington really set a chain of losses for this team, but they weren't even playing the greatest under Pennington. Their offseason acquisitions made some believe that this team would be a deep playoff team.
Runner(s) Up: Baltimore Ravens: Expected to be a Super Bowl contender, they have been an embarrassment so far.

Surprise of the Year: Denver Broncos. Jake Plummer and the defense of the Broncos have come together, playing nearly as good as the Colts look right now. Plummer's consistency is what has people talking though.
Runner(s) Up: Cincinnati Bengals: No one expected the defense to assist the Bengals the way it has so far.

That's it for the AFC, where there are a lot of strong teams this year. Now it's time for the NFC, where there has been quite a bit of controversy this season.


Individual Player Awards
Best Quarterback: Eli Manning. I didn't think I would be naming Eli as the NFC's best performing quarterback, but he has performed great. The Giants are now a contender, and Eli has matured faster than anyone had expected.
Runner(s) Up: Jake Delhomme: Even with the Panthers having a shaky running attack and the loss of Muhsin Muhammad, Steve Smith has come through for Delhomme.

Best Running Back: Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks need to lock up Alexander long term and forget about how old he is. Alexander is having a dream-like season, rushing for an amazing 5.4 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns already.
Runner(s) Up: Thomas Jones: The Bears have turned to Jones on offense, and he has come through with some tough yardage despite Cedric Benson being over his shoulder.

Best Wide Receiver: Steve Smith. How smart do the Panthers look by not re-signing Muhammad right now? Smith has picked up right where he left off two years ago, making big plays left and right. He leads the league in receiving and has nine touchdowns.
Runner(s) Up: Santana Moss: Moss has been a gem for the Redskins.

Best Tight End: Jeremy Shockey. Shockey has quickly helped the growing process of Eli by remaining a reliable target. Shockey may be having his best season since his rookie effort.
Runner(s) Up: Chris Cooley: Another position being utilized well by the Redskins.

Best Kicker: Neil Rackers. He has been automatic this entire season. He is 26-for-26 on the year, including 13-of-13 from beyond 40 yards out. Too bad he hasn't gotten a lot of extra point chances with the way the Cardinals offense has played.
Runner(s) Up: Jay Feely: After being cut by the Falcons, he has connected on 17-of-18 for the Giants.

Best Returner: Willie Ponder. He has been consistent with a 28.0 average, including one kick return touchdown.

Dissappointing Quarterback: Daunte Culpepper. He had a dreadful first half, capped off by a season ending injury. He was never able to get it going, and had the complete opposite type of season as he had last year.
Runner(s) Up: Kurt Warner: With two great wideouts to throw to, more success was expected from Warner. Joey Harrington would be listed here, but his performance was already poor to begin with.

Dissappointing Running Back: Kevin Jones. He has managed to remain healthy, but has done nothing to help either Harrington or Garcia. I don't know if he's this team's future running back.
Runner(s) Up: JJ Arrington: Expected to be a rookie of the year candidate, he hasn't even seemed to show up.

Dissappointing Wide Receiver: Keary Colbert and Michael Clayton. Both of them share this award since they both had tremendous rookie seasons last year. They only have one touchdown between them this year and are not even close to 1,000 yards receiving.
Runner(s) Up: The Three Lions: Roy Williams, Mike Williams, and Charles Rogers have been anything but lethal.

Dissappointing Tight End: Jason Witten. He doesn't really deserve this award since he hasn't played bad or anything. But, only having two touchdown grabs so far earns him the award.

Dissappointing Kicker: Jose Cortez. He made one game winning field goal, but also missed several chip shots that cost Dallas two games perhaps.

Comeback Player: Mark Brunell. Dead and buried last year and fighting for a spot with Patrick Ramsey this year, Brunell has allowed the Redskins to completely forget about Ramsey. He is having his best season in years.
Runner(s) Up: Plaxico Burress: Burress never really got going with the Steelers last year, but he has added a whole new dimension to the Giants offense.

Team Effort Awards
Now that the individual awards are done, let's move on to the NFC team awards. These awards represent teams in general, rather than individual players.

Team of the Year: Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been one of the few "projected contenders" that have not disappointed. After a shaky start, the Panthers ended their first-half by winning five in a row, all in convincing fashion.
Runner(s) Up: New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks: The Giants play has been great, as has the Seahawks sudden burst of consistency.

Worst Team of the Year: San Francisco 49ers. Although they have two wins already, they have been blown out pretty badly in some of their losses.
Runner(s) Up: Arizona Cardinals: A lack of a running game or a defense keeps them out of games very quickly.

Dissapointment of the Year: Minnesota Vikings. From the horrid play of Daunte Culpepper and the defense to the off-the-field shenanigans, Minnesota is light years away from being the dominant team they were expected to be. Shockingly though, they are still in the divisional playoff race.
Runner(s) Up: Green Bay Packers: We'll know they're officially cursed with injuries when Brett Favre goes down.

Surprise of the Year: Washington Redskins. The play of Mark Brunell has turned the Redskins into a team without an offense into a team that excels in that area.
Runner(s) Up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If Griese had not gone down, they may be the top seed in the NFC right now.

That's it for my mid-season NFL awards. The first half of the season has been great, and there is still time for teams to make a late run at things. Even for teams like the Vikings and the Raiders, the playoffs are still a possibility. It all depends on who turns out to be the second half "of the years".

-Chris Pokorny

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