Arizona Cardinals: First-Half MVP for Offense, Defense and Special Teams

Chad MiddletonContributor INovember 14, 2011

Arizona Cardinals: First-Half MVP for Offense, Defense and Special Teams

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    If you would have said before the season that at this point in the season the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles would have the same record, you probably would have taken it.

    At 3-6, you probably still would. 

    Ok, maybe not, but this is not the time to revel in the record. It's time to look at some positives of this team.  I want to steer clear of calling it a QB controversy, but the facts are starting to pile up.

    Kolb 1-6 as a starter. Skelton is 2-0. Kolb is 0-4 on the road. Skelton is 1-0 on the road. 

    Kolb loses leads. Skelton overcomes deficits.

    I won't get carried away there, and 3-6 is still pretty much out of contention (at least divisional contention), barring a meltdown from the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers.

    The first half of the year didn't have many positives, but there were a few players whose play stood out. Here we have the first half most valuable players for the offense, defense and special teams.

Offense: Larry Fitzgerald

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    No disrespect to Beanie Wells, but Larry Fitzgerald has to be the MVP so far on offense. Larry just makes this offense tick. When he makes a great play or mind-blowing catch, you can see that it's an instant spark for the offense and defense.

    What makes Larry Fitzgerald so incredible is that he's always playing. Regardless of score, he's always giving it 100% and a positive motivating force on the field, on the sideline and in the locker room. 

    Right now, he is sixth in the league in receiving yards, averaging around 88 yards a game. He only has five touchdowns this year, but his presence on the field is felt by the way defenses cover him. 

    And passing Roy Green on the all-time touchdown list for the franchise doesn't hurt your case either. Therefore, he is Arizona's first-half MVP. 

    Honorable Mention: Beanie Wells has had a heck of a first half, especially considering he's been injured most of the time. His running has been bruising, and except for the last two weeks, he's been a big reason the offense has been moving. 

Defense: Calais Campbell (Tie)

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    Pay the man. 

    Yes, I said it. Calais Campbell, the gentle giant, has been such a defensive force for the Cardinals, that this would not be the time to have a contract dispute. This is no time to allow him to get bitter and resent the organization, making it more difficult to re-sign him. 

    He is a playmaker. Case in point, the Rams game. His blocked field goal could probably get him on the special teams honorable mention (and probably will), but that field goal block set the tone for the rest of the game.

    Against the Eagles today, his interception was the game-changer.  The Eagles seemed all but certain to score at least a field goal, but more likely a touchdown, when Campbell jumped up and nabbed an interception that was almost too easy for the 6'8" giant.

    He is 25 years old and has only been in the league for four years. That's still plenty of time to grow at his position and really develop into veteran leadership. 

    He leads the team with five sacks and 18 in the last two-and-a-half seasons, and he has outplayed his $600,000 salary.

Defense: Daryl Washington

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    When you listen to the announcers of a Cardinals game, you can't help but hear the words Daryl Washington come out of their mouths several times.

    That's because he is everywhere on the field. He is making tackles at every opportunity, and can just about find where the ball is every single play.

    He's also had a handful of interceptions that have slipped through his hands that he would admittedly love to have back.

    This guy is young and raw, but there is no denying that he will be an integral part of the Cardinals defense for years to come.

    I couldn't leave him off the MVP ballot with his performance this season, and remember this is only year two. 

    By the way, when's the last time you heard the name Karlos Dansby? Just saying.

Special Teams: Patrick Peterson

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    I'll admit it. I never was one to sit and watch punt returns unless Devin Hester was playing.

    The game has completely changed with Patrick Peterson.

    Don't you feel excited to see a punt formation now? Don't you think that he could take one back just about any time he fields it? 

    Yeah, me too. He leads the NFL with 441 return yards, and has three punt returns for touchdowns. He's pretty much single-handedly won two of the three games the Cardinals have won.

    Sure, his defense has been suspect, but in the last two weeks he has dramatically improved. Now, if he could just stop those penalties.

    Many expected big things from this guy as a cornerback, which may happen as the year goes on, but in special teams he is an absolute phenomenon. 

    Besides Devin Hester, there may not be another player as exciting to watch on punts.

    He hands down deserves to be the first-half MVP of special teams for the Cardinals.