Cleveland Browns 2010 Season Awards
As both the 2010 calender year and NFL season comes to a close it is that time to hand out some awards for the 2010 version of the Cleveland Browns.
With a new team president and front office staff in place, which looks to be a great team beyond 2010, the Browns saw more roster turnover in 2010 but now have a foundation in place with a good combination of young and veteran players.
Each year there are surprises and disappointments and 2010 was no different and here is a look at the top performers along with a handful of some other entertaining (satire) awards, too.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Peyton Hillis, RB
In a 2010 offseason trade that saw former Ohio-grown Brady Quinn sent to the Denver Broncos in exchange for running back Peyton Hillis and two future late-round draft picks, the Browns made what is clearly the trade of 2010.
Hillis was a bulldozer for the Browns along with one of their top receivers too.
Thinking back to training camp, all the media was talking about was the size of Hillis' arms and those powerful arms dished out stiff arm after stiff arm and opposing defenses found out quickly that you do not hit Hillis, he hits you.
Honorable Mention: Ben Watson, TE
Defensive Player Of The Year: Ahtyba Rubin, DT
In what is easily the toughest award to chose this season, there was really no standout player who started every single game in 2010 with the exception of Rubin.
The 320-pounder came into the fray in Cleveland when Shaun Rogers went down for the season in 2009 to injury.
Rubin stepped in and never looked back claiming the centerpiece position of the Browns' 3-4 defense for 2010.
Starting every game, Rubin's position is supposed to be that of the guy who doesn't make many plays or tackles due to taking on multiple blockers in order to free up other defenders to make the plays instead.
Well, Rubin's tremendous athletic ability allowed him to be third on the Browns in tackles and the leading defensive lineman in the NFL in that category too.
And he had an interception to cap off his breakout season too.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Haden, CB and Abe Elam, S
Special Teams Player Of The Year: Reggie Hodges, P
On a play that could go down as one of the best runs ever by a punter, Reggie Hodges ran from his own 10 yard line to the opposing 10 on a trick play that will never be forgotten by both Browns and New Orleans Saints fans.
Hodges is one of the NFL leaders in punts inside the 20 and inside the 10 and his terrific play has earned him a contract extension which made the Browns send former Cleveland native, Dave Zastudil packing his bags and looking for employment elsewhere when he is healthy.
Honorable Mention: Ray Ventrone, Special Teams Gunner
Rookie of The Year (tie): T.J. Ward, S and Joe Haden, CB
If veteran cornerback Eric Wright had not struggled this season, then this award would have gone solely to Ward, but with Wright having a bad year and then going down due to injury that gave Haden a shot.
Haden stepped in for Wright and has not looked back locking down a starting cornerback spot for the Browns for many years to come.
Leading the team in interceptions and passes defended, Haden is already looking like one of the best young shut down cornerbacks in the league despite all the questions surrounding his speed. Haden's speed is what really sets him apart from other defenders on the field since he looks like the fastest player on the field on game days.
There is nothing more to say about Ward that has not already been said this season.
The guy can hit (as Cincinnati Bengals receiver, Jordan Shipley, will tell you) and he flies all over the field making tackles and leads the Browns defense in total tackles by nearly 40 more tackles over the second leading tackler on the team.
Both Haden and Ward will be playing together for many years and they are both instrumental in the tremendous improvements in the secondary over past seasons.
Honorable Mention: Colt McCoy, QB
Biggest Veteran Presence: Scott Fujita, LB
Fujita instantly became a hit with both Browns players and fans in 2010 after coming over from the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
The leader and anchor on the defense, Fujita had the Browns in position and called out adjustments on the fly in the first half of the season before going down to injury.
He was having one of his best seasons as a professional football player and he even got a chance to intercept former teammate and Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees in the Browns' upset of the Saints at the Superdome.
With two more years on his contract, look for Fujita to step back into his leadership role on defense and help a unit that sorely missed him once he went down.
Honorable Mention: Sheldon Brown, CB
Satire Awards, Most Overused Picture Of Mike Holmgren Award
I cannot tell you how many times this season I have seen this picture of Holmgren used on Bleacher Report.
Now, it is not B/R's fault, since they use Getty Images as a source for photos, but someone at Getty please take a few more shots of Holmgren.
Not Thrown The Ball Enough Satire Award: Evan Moore, TE
Too bad second year tight end Evan Moore went down with an injury and it cut his second season short since he was making progress.
Moore, a converted college receiver to NFL tight end, was often lined up in the slot and was the Browns' biggest deep threat due to his height and size which caused mismatches with both defensive backs and linebackers.
Moore leads all Browns receivers, who have 10 or more catches, in yards per catch with over 20 and he is so far out in front in this category by nearly seven yards per catch over the second best average on the team.
As many Browns fans said in 2010, "Throw Moore the ball more!"
Playing Through Pain Satire Award: Josh Cribbs
In 2009, many in the NFL were calling for the Browns to "PAY THE MAN!" and give Cribbs a better contract since he clearly outplayed his old one.
The Browns paid him, but then the injury bug hit Cribbs throughout the 2010 season including dislocating four of his toes on one foot.
Many have no clue how painful that could really be, but to put it in some kind of perspective, think about the last time you stubbed your toe and now multiply that by four and imagine those toes all out of socket.
Yeah, you are probably cringing a bit now because I am too.
Cribbs had an off year and both injuries and the fact no team was willing to kick or punt to him hurt his chances of returning anything.
Maybe teams will forget how good Cribbs is in 2011 and start kicking it to him once again.
The Bad Timing to Have a Bad Season Satire Award: Eric Wright, CB
Coming into the 2010 season, Wright was one of the more promising young cornerbacks in the NFL.
He was also in the final year of his contract.
Usually when a player is in the final year of his contract, he plays at a really high level in order to get a payday after the season with a big contract.
This will not be the case for Wright and with the emergence of Haden along with Wright's struggles may see Wright either find a new home in 2011 or he might get a smaller contract than expected and stay in Cleveland as their nickelback.
Either way, Wright hurt his future in the NFL with his spotty play in 2010.
Perhaps he can comeback in 2011 with a solid showing.
Tape Your Ankles Satire Award (tie): Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme
Not one, not two, but all three of the Browns' quarterbacks sustained high ankle sprains in 2010.
Talk about an anomaly of an injury.
No one really knows why this occurred, but in early December on Sirius NFL Radio, former Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer was asked why this was happening in Cleveland.
"I used to make every single player tape his ankles no matter what they said about it being uncomfortable," said Schottenheimer. "Both in practices and in games, every one of my players had precautions against sustaining any ankles sprains."
Does Browns current head coach Eric Mangini make his players tape their ankles?
If not, then he should moving forward.
The Play This Dude More Satire Award: Marcus Benard, LB
Benard, the guy in the air in this picture, led the Browns in sacks in 2010 in only situational pass rushing downs.
In limited play, he was still able to lead the team in sacks.
How about playing him more in 2011?
He could become one of the NFL sack leaders if he plays more.
Just a thought though.
Something To Prove in 2011 Satire Award: Montario Hardesty, RB
Rookie running back Montario Hardesty was drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft and they spent multiple picks to grab the runner.
With such a high investment in an injury-prone player, the Browns took a risk.
This risk looked to be paying off since the Cleveland media reported about Hardesty's excellence in rookie camp and OTAs to the point that even the coaching staff looked like they would start the rookie at running back in 2010.
Then his susceptibility to injury struck and first he banged his knee hard right before training camp, missing most of camp.
When healthy, he came back and played in the final preseason game and looked strong and fast but then he went down with yet another knee injury and was done for the season.
Now if Hardesty didn't go down, then Hillis wouldn't have had the breakout year he had, but look for Hardesty to be highly motivated to play hard and fast in 2011 to not only give Hillis more rest during games, but to possibly give the Browns their first dual-1,000 yards rushers since the days of Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner.
Is that statement a bit speculative?
Of course it is, but it is also a satire award too.
And check out my Cleveland Browns New Years resolutions by clicking here to read it.