NFL Quarterly Awards
It has been a crazy season so far in the NFL, and we are only through four weeks.
The Atlanta Falcons, the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans remain undefeated while the struggling New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns have yet to get that much-needed first victory.
Fans had to put up with the replacement referees and see questionable calls (at best), but then the regular officials came back–and there were still questionable calls.
One of the best things about the NFL is you never know who or what team is going to have a breakout year or go the opposite and have a forgettable one.
So as the NFL crosses over the quarter mark of the season, there's no better time to give out those much anticipated and prestigious quarterly awards.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chandler Jones, New England Patriots
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So far early in this season, this award could have went to either of the first round picks playing on the New England Patriots defense—Chandler Jones or Dont'a Hightower.
At this moment, I'm giving the edge to Jones. He has been hard for offensives to block and looks like he is playing with a chip on his shoulder after falling in the NFL Draft.
Through four games, Jones has recorded three sacks and appears to be the premiere pass rusher the Patriots were hoping he would be.
Others on the ballot:
Dont'a Hightower, linebacker, New England Patriots:
Like I said, Hightower could have easily been given this award. He has been around the ball on just about every play.
Mark Barron, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Barron has played good defense on the backside of Bucs defense. He's third in rookies in combined tackles (27). You'd like to see him causing more turnovers—he's yet to get his first interception but he has forced a fumble.
Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Talk about a kid that's been around the ball on every play. David leads all rookies in combined (33) and solo (28) tackles.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
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Is there any doubt who the rookie of year is so far this season? Absolutely not. Robert Griffin III has been sensational.
And it started from the first week he took the field against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. RG3 had a stellar performance of 320 yards and two touchdowns. He has continued to shine as he as thrown for 1,070 yards and four touchdowns while also running in four more.
The man RG3 will forever be compared with, Andrew Luck, has performed in splotches, but nothing that impresses quite like the Heisman winner, RG3.
The others on the ballot:
Alfred Morris, running back, Washington Redskins:
What a great surprise Morris has been for the Redskins to accompany RG3 in the backfield. He leads all rookie running backs in yards (376) and tied with his teammate RG3 for most touchdowns (4).
Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts:
Luck has proven he can play in this league, but a couple rough halves have really put him behind in the pack. Still, throwing for 846 yards and five touchdowns is a good sign for the Colts and their future.
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Miami Dolphins:
He has been questionable at times, but his last game against the Arizona Cardinals pushed him on this list as he compiled 431 yards through the air. On the season he has thrown for 1,046 yards, but just two touchdowns.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
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So far in this young NFL season, fans have seen the brilliant and the pitiful Peyton Manning.
His week one performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers gave hope of a great year that was then recollected after his sensational performance last week against the Oakland Raiders.
In those two games, Manning combined for 49-of-64 (76.6 percent), 581 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
But in between those two games were two more against top teams in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans.
Manning combined for 50-of-89 (56.2 percent), 571 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
But like it's reiterated every week, the four-time NFL MVP is coming off neck surgery and everything is a process. It's just a matter of which Manning shows up, but for now he's definitely on the comeback trail.
Others on the ballot:
Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings:
After returning from a torn ACL just last December, Peterson has made a great return and has looked like his old self. He has rushed for 332 yards on 79 carries (4.2 yards per carry) and has added two touchdowns.
Defensive Most Valuable Player: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
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That's exactly what Houston Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt is—relentless. There hasn't been a player on defense that has lived up to what Watt has done thus far in the season. In fact, you could make a case that he's the overall MVP at this very moment.
In just four games, Watt has compiled 20 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Watt has just been a beast for the best team in the NFL. He is becoming one of hardest defensive linemen to block, and his motor makes it even harder to do so.
He has had at least 1.5 sacks every game and has had two or more in each of his last two.
Right now, there is no question that Watt is the best player on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL.
Others on the ballot:
Clay Matthews, linebacker, Green Bay Packers:
Through the first quarter of the football season, Matthews has looked like the player who won the Defensive Player of the Year award just two seasons ago. Despite Matthews having seven sacks, where him and Watt differ is the game-by-game production.
DeMarcus Ware, linebacker, Dallas Cowboys:
Ware is always on this list and there shouldn't be any surprise he's on it again early in the season. Ware is consistently wreaking havoc for opposing offenses. He's had five sacks and 21 combined tackles so far in the season.
Tim Jennings, cornerback, Chicago Bears:
Ah, a name who may surprise people. Jennings has been great on the outside for the Bears defense. Grabbing four interceptions through four games will certainly catch people's attention. He's also deflected nine passes. He could be a shocking pick if he can continue his early production throughout the year.
Offensive Most Valuable Player: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
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It's hard to argue against the quarterback of an undefeated team, but Matt Ryan has put up numbers to garnish him the respect and recognition of being the Offensive MVP so far this season.
Ryan has thrown for 1,162 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions all while completing 69.4 percent of his passes.
Ryan has put up those numbers against subpar defenses in each of the four weeks of the season, but that's not his fault. He has went out and executed each play and has continued to elevate himself into the discussion of elite quarterbacks.
Now do I expect Ryan to continue on this path and win the MVP at the end of the season? No, but as of right now, I can't really argue against a guy with those numbers and not a single loss.
Others on the ballot:
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots:
Brady is having another typical Brady-esque season. Even with the injury problems and new personnel this year, Brady is performing like we all know he can. He's thrown for 1,227 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
Arian Foster, running back, Houston Texans:
Foster has become one of the most reliable backs in the NFL and has continued to show why he is in the discussion for the MVP every year. He has 380 yards on 103 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He's also added another score with a receiving touchdown.