Bleacher Report's Preseason Week 3 NFL Awards

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 1, 2015

Bleacher Report's Preseason Week 3 NFL Awards

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    Philadelphia's Sam Bradford has looked good in the preseason.
    Philadelphia's Sam Bradford has looked good in the preseason.Associated Press

    Last weekend brought with it dress-rehearsal time across the National Football League.

    The third week of the preseason means extra action for the starters—often a half or more. It's the closest thing you're going to see to a regular-season game until the actual thing.

    And that meant our best look at which teams have improved this offseason.

    And the Washington Redskins, who have, um—not.

    As they do every week, the National Lead Writers and NFL Analysts here at Bleacher Report gathered to offer their takes on the best (and worst) of dress-rehearsal week.

    Who rocked the runway? Who looked like a tramp?

    Read on and find out!

Team of the Week

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles (7 votes)

    There haven't been many teams in the NFL that were talked about more than the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Of course, that's understandablein his first year with control over personnel decisions head coach Chip Kelly took a buzz saw to the roster.

    He has remade the team in his image.

    Well, on Saturday night it was the Eagles who were the buzz saw. Quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the centerpiece of Kelly's offseason haul, was flawless, going 10-of-10 for 121 yards and three touchdowns over three series as the Eagles steamrolled the Green Bay Packers, 39-26.

    Still, Kelly insisted to Marissa Fuller of the team's website that he stills sees plenty of room for improvement from both player and team:

    I think, like anybody, we can always continue to improve. So I think, every day, that’s the great thing about Sam, he’s not going to rest on anything. He’s missed a lot of football coming into this, but I think he’s playing good right now. He can always get better, be sharper, and you know, that's the thing I love about him. He will be back out on the field on Monday, trying to get better.

    Both looked pretty good to our panel against a Packers squad with Super Bowl aspirations.

    Others receiving votes: San Diego Chargers (1 vote)

Coach of the Week

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    Scott Audette/Associated Press

    Winner: Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns (8 votes)

    Yes, the Cleveland Browns won an award for doing something right. On purpose. Unanimously, even.

    I know; I'm scared too.

    The Browns certainly weren't scared Saturday evening against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whether it was offense, defense or special teams, the Browns completely dominated Tampa Bay in every facet of the game en route to a 31-7 beatdown.

    NFL National Lead Writer Mike Tanier laid the credit for that impressive performance squarely at the feet of head coach Mike Pettine:

    The Eagles swept many of my choices, but Pettine gets Coach of the Week for getting the Browns ready in all three phases of the game, despite their lack of talent in one particular phase. The Browns showed they can muck out wins with defense and special teams. When you look at their defensive and return-game talent, we might see a few games like Saturday night's Bucs contest this year, especially when the Browns face weaker opponents and turnover-prone quarterbacks.

    Not one of our voters disagrees.

    Repent. The end is nigh.

Goat of the Week

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    "Winner:" Frank Clark, DE, Seattle Seahawks (5 votes)

    There was more than a little controversy when the Seattle Seahawks selected Michigan defensive end Frank Clark in the 2015 NFL draft. Or should I say former Michigan defensive end—Clark was kicked off the Wolverines amid domestic violence charges last year.

    Those charges were plead down and resolved, but controversy continues to swirl around the youngster.

    There were also offensive linemen swirling around Clark on Saturday night. As ESPN reports, several Bolts linemen got into a fracas with Clark after the rookie allegedly cheap-shotted San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers at the bottom of a pile during Seattle's 16-15 win.

    Clark admitted that he may have let emotion get the best of him:

    I'm a real emotional player, but there are ways you react and ways you don't react. You've got to be smart in this game. That was something [Richard Sherman] was telling me afterward, that whole thing -- even though I didn't get called for anything -- just to avoid situations like that.

    It was an act that didn't endear Clark to San Diego—and it also didn't go unnoticed by offensive linemen across the NFL.

    Better keep your head on a swivel, Frankie.

    Others receiving votes: Washington Redskins front office (3 votes)

Rookie of the Week

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Winner: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders (5 votes)

    OK. First the Browns bring home an award. Now it's the Oakland Raiders.

    Yep. It's the Apocalypse.

    However, there's no denying that in Sunday's Week 3 finale against the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Amari Cooper looked like a very wise use of a first-round pick by the Raiders this year.

    Cooper hauled in four passes for 62 yards in a 30-23 Oakland loss, looking like he's been in the NFL for years in the process. As Micah Peters of USA Today reports, Cooper also made Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson look like a fool in the process.

    "This is what happened," Peters wrote. "... Cooper blew past the coverage, chop-stepped and caught the ball, turned and took off again, all while Peterson hung on for dear life."

    Just watch the Vine at that link. It explains all you need to know about why Cooper was this week's pick.

    A picture being worth a thousand words and all.

    Others receiving votes: Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions (3 votes)

Best QB Performance

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Winner: Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (7 votes)

    As I mentioned earlier, Sam Bradford fared pretty well with the Eagles on Saturday night. That is, if you call completing every pass you attempt and leading touchdown drives every time you touch the ball "pretty well."

    Bradford's passer rating in the game? 156.7. A perfect rating is 158.3. No idea where he lost the 1.6 at.

    The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft told Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News he couldn't be happier with life with his new team:

    I felt really good today. Even before the game, I felt like we had a great week of preparation. I thought that we were ready to go tonight. We just found a rhythm, a real one. It was nice to come off the field, go back on, keep that rhythm, keep firing.

    Obviously, it was nice to get out there last week and play the one series, but today, to be out there for three series and have three touchdowns, to be able to come to the sideline and communicate with the offensive line, talk to Chip (Kelly) about where we’re going and what we’re thinking, I think that was big, too.

    If this keeps up and Bradford can stay on the field (that second "if" is a whopper), then the 2015 NFL Comeback Player of the Year race is over.

    Maybe Coach of the Year, too.

    And perhaps even MVP.

    Others receiving votes: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (1 vote)

Best RB Performance

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Winner: Zac Stacy, New York Jets (6 votes) 

    Not long ago (like, say, a week) running back Zac Stacy was squarely on the roster bubble in New York.

    The third-year pro still may not make the team, but Stacy didn't do anything to hurt his chances Saturday night in a 28-18 win over the crosstown Giants.

    Stacy, whom New York acquired in a trade during the draft after he spent two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, picked up 60 yards on the ground, added a 24-yard touchdown catch and pitched in a two-point conversion.

    Stacy told Randy Lange of the team's website that he's just glad to have been able to show the club what he brings to the table.

    "It was definitely good to get back into the flow of things," Stacy said. "It felt good from the standpoint of getting that confidence back and just making plays for this team."

    The question now becomes whether that performance will be enough to keep Stacy at the table.

    Others receiving votes: Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions (2 votes)

Best WR Performance

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    Winner: Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (5 votes)

    It hasn't been the best of weeks for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Earlier in the week, the NFL suspended the second-year pro four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. As Kevin Patra of NFL.com reported Monday, Bryant's appeal of that suspension was denied.

    The Steelers released a statement on the matter:

    We are disappointed in Martavis’ actions that has led to his four-game suspension. It is a disappointment to our entire organization as well as our fans, but we will continue to support Martavis during his suspension. It is very unfortunate his actions have put our team in this situation to begin the year, but we are confident he will learn from his mistake and return in excellent shape in Week 5.

    However, Bryant was eligible to play Saturday during the 43-19 loss to the Buffalo Billsand oh boy, did he. Showing off the deep speed that got him labeled as a breakout pick in many circles before his suspension, Bryant hauled in three passesincluding a touchdown.

    And racked up 138 yards in the process.

    Yes, that's 46 yards a grab.

    Yes, that's a lot. 

    Others receiving votes: Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (2 votes), Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (1 vote)

Best TE Performance

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Winner: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (6 votes)

    He didn't get the publicity of offseason acquisition LeSean McCoy. Or wide receiver Percy Harvin. Or what passed for a battle at the quarterback position in Buffalo this preseason.

    However, the Bills also added a new tight end in the form of Charles Clay, who made some noise for his new team in the Bills' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Yes, Clay only caught two passes during the game, but one of those grabs went for a touchdown—from 67 yards out.

    It was Clay's first big catch for the Bills, but as the underneath safety valve for newly anointed starter Tyrod Taylor, it isn't apt to be his last. 

    Others receiving votes: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (1 vote), Ifeanyi Momah, Arizona Cardinals (1 vote)

Best Defensive Performance

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Winner: Khalil Mack DE/OLB, Oakland Raiders (6 votes)

    There's some question as to whether second-year pro Khalil Mack is a defensive end or a linebacker.

    There's no question that the 24-year-old is a star in the making for the Oakland Raiders.

    As Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports reports, Mack was an absolute force of nature against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday:

    "If I needed a yard, I would run anywhere on planet Earth other than at Khalil Mack."

    That's how NBC's Cris Collinsworth described the Cardinals' lackluster attempt to pick up a 3rd-and-short by running on Mack's side of the line of scrimmage. Mack ended up stripping David Johnson of the football, though the Cardinals managed to recover.

    On Sunday, Mack wrecked havoc in the pocket. During the Cardinals' fourth series of the game, Mack blazed past left tackle Jared Veldheer and Palmer's throw was tipped by another defender at the line of scrimmage.

    A couple plays later, Veldheer was clearly concerned that Mack was going to run by him again. Instead, Mack spun to the inside and flushed Palmer out of the pocket, forcing yet another incompletion.

    Mack recorded two sacks in the game. He looks like a guy who is going to snag somewhere around 15 sacks this upcoming season.

    When it comes to defensive players in the NFL, it's J.J. Watt's world. But Mack appears poised to join a short list of players with a legitimate shot to challenge Watt for that title.

    Others receiving votes: San Diego Chargers (1 vote), Aaron Donald, DT, St. Louis Rams (1 vote)

Best Decision

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Winner: Sitting Aaron Rodgers (6 votes)

    It's been a rocky preseason for the Green Bay Packers. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was already lost for the season to a torn ACL. As Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports, batterymate Randall Cobb suffered a shoulder injury during the team's loss to the Eagles that now puts his Week 1 status in jeopardy.

    However, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is just fine, thank you. Partly because he didn't play against the Eagles.

    Dress rehearsal or no, our panel was overwhelmingly on board with head coach Mike McCarthy's decision to sit his star quarterback. It's a move that suited Rodgers' goals for the preseason, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

    "I'd like to stay healthy if possible," Rodgers said a month ago, "and just find a way to get everybody on the same page."

    Rodgers stayed healthy, but he won't be on the same page as his starting wideouts to start the season.

    That's a good thing, given the page those wideouts are starting on is the injury report. 

    Others receiving votes: Rex Ryan naming all Bills QBs captains for game (2 votes)

Worst Decision

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    "Winner:" Steve Smith risking suspension (3 votes) 

    If last week's "dress rehearsal" was any indication, there won't be any shortage of candidates for this category in the regular season.

    For NFL National Lead Writer Mike Tanier, the Colts pulling a surprise onside kick in a football game that doesn't count struck him as, um, yeah:

    Showing off your surprise onside kick in the preseason makes no sense. But as Jeff Fisher pointed out after the game, exposing your core special teamers to all of the collisions that come from a surprise onside kick makes even less sense. Surprise onside kicks result in players slamming into each other at unexpected angles, shoving for the ball, and so on. Chuck Pagano is lucky the Colts didn't lose a valuable role player or reserve in the name of "showing opponents you are willing to try anything."

    Two voters, on the other hand, went with Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh's sideline tantrum during the Ravens-Redskins game, which included a kerfuffle with Washington head coach Jay Gruden and a sideline reporter.

    However, it was Ravens wideout Steve Smith, a player long known for his cool temper and even keel, who brings home the hardware this week after being ejected for fighting earlier in that same game, a 31-13 Redskins win.

    Smith took the ejection in typical Smith fashion.

    Per ESPN.com, the 36-year-old receiver went and watched the rest of the game with his son.

    Others receiving votes: John Harbaugh's sideline tantrum (2 votes), Colts attempting a surprise onside kick (2 votes), Browns contemplating signing Ray Rice (1 vote)

Player of the Week

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Winner: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (7 votes)

    Sam Bradford has caught a lot of flak since entering the NFL back in 2010, largely related to the size of his rookie deal (a $78 million old CBA beast) relative to the number of games he's been sidelined with a litany of injuries.

    Those injuries include a pair of ACL tears that have kept Bradford off the field dating to the midway point of the 2013 season.

    But if the preseason has been any indication, Bradford is about to have his vengeance upon the naysayers.

    At least that's the opinion of Mark Eckel of NJ.com:

    Sam Bradford is ready. Maybe too ready if there is such a thing. Because it's hard to imagine the Eagles quarterback being better than he was Saturday night.

    In two games, and it's doubtful Bradford will play Thursday's preseason final against the Jets, Bradford played four series and the Eagles scored four touchdowns. He took a total of 30 snaps, which is less than you would like, but when you score every time you can live with it.

    Four drives, four touchdowns, that's a pretty good percentage. So is a quarterback rating of 156.7.

    The quarterback who drew fear and worry from the time he was acquired from the Rams for (Nick) Foles and a 2016 second-round pick and was coming off two torn ACLs, is ready.

    And so is our panel. Because the next time you see the Bleacher Report weekly awards...

    It'll be for keeps

    Others receiving votes: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (1 vote)

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