It's May 17, and that means it's time for end-of-the-year awards for the 2012 Tennessee Titans
No. It's not. Not even close. What's the point in giving out fake awards nearly four months before the season even starts?
It's a great way to establish expectations for the year. I'm a big believer in creating reasonable targets and seeing if players are able to hit them. I demand that all of you treat these awards with the same solemnity and seriousness that I do.
Here's what I expect out of key Titans in 2012.
The Joss Whedon Award (Offensive MVP)
I chewed on this one for awhile, and actually wrote the rest of the piece first. If Jake Locker wins the starting job, he'll be good. He's been given all the weapons necessary to succeed and has a year in the system. Despite nagging doubt over his status, I'm still going to go with him. Sometimes the right answer is lurking all along, and you just have to give him the right platform to show what he can do. When he finally gets that chance, explosive things can happen.
The Raylan Givens Award (Defensive MVP)
I love what Jurrell Casey did last year, and I think he's going to get better in 2012. Casey could really benefit from what should be at least a slightly improved pass rush. He's dominant inside against the run, but if he could double his sack total to five, he'll be the key cog in the Titans' interior defense. This may be a controversial choice, but I believe it's justified.
The Is This It Award (Rookie of the Year)
Kendall Wright is a great young player, but he may get lost among all the other offensive talent the Titans have. I expect Mike Martin to have an instant impact, however. I have a huge crush on him and can see him stepping in immediately and being productive. Sometimes a player bursts on the scene and just makes sense from the start. That's Martin.
The Amazing Spider-Man Award (Most Improved Player)
I've already talked about Akeem Ayers recently, so allow me to divert the conversation to say how thrilled I am that they are retooling Spiderman already. I love Spiderman, but I hate Tobey Maguire with the fire of a thousand suns. I know people loved those movies, but I did not. Maguire was stiff and pathetic and lacked the wit and intelligence necessary to play Peter Parker. My kids love those movies, but that's just the problem. THEY ARE KIDS.
Anyway, I'm ready for Spidey to get the Batman Begins treatment. Bring on the reboot!
The Brandon Routh Award (Most Likely to Get Cut)
I hate to pile on, but this has to go to Eugene Amano, the Titans' center. He was terrible last year, and his job is clearly under assault. Any time you have a veteran making millions who is being pushed for a starting job, you have a potential roster casualty. Sometimes a stiff just isn't cut out to be super.
The Matrix Revolutions Award (Biggest Disappointment)
The Matrix Reloaded was a bit of a letdown, but no one realized just how bad it was until after he/she saw the third installment of the trilogy. I think that's where we are headed with Chris Johnson. His 2011 season was awkward and bad, but he still put up vaguely respectable numbers leading some to hold out hope that he'll rebound to former glory. I'm not seeing it. I expect him to decline even further in 2012, tipping us all off that 2011 was harbinger of things to come.