Midseason Studs and Duds
The SB Nation Network Has Spoken
[Editor's note: Written by BigBlueShoe; edited by tommasse]
We are now halfway into the 2007 NFL season, the SB Nation football writers have made their picks on the Mid-Season Studs and Duds of 2007. The categories are the same as last year, and like last year the writers could add in their own selections for best and worst.
The criteria for the categories was for the writers to look at Weeks 1 through 8 cumulatively and make a judgment on who was great and who was .. not. So, while Drew Brees pretty darn good the last three weeks, from Weeks 1 to 5, he was .. not. His cumulative play from Weeks 1 to 8 made him a nominee in the Worst Player category.
Also, some writers intimated that while Patriots are 8-0, Bill Belichick getting caught cheating after Week 1 "tainted his legitimacy." Therefore, BigBlueShoe, who ran the balloting, left Belichick off the Best Coach nominee list. That didn't stop writers like Kirkendall and TheSportsGuru from writing in his name anyway. Some added Belichick into the Worst Coach list. Shockingly (or maybe not so), at least one was a writer who covers an AFC East team (Matty I from Phinsider).
All that said, here are the 2007 NFL Mid-Season Studs and Duds, presented by the football writers of SB Nation:
NFL Mid-Season Awards:
Offensive Player: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Defensive Player: Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Rookie: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Worst Coach: Scott Linehan, St. Louis Rams
Worst Rookie: tie between Green Bays' Justin Harrell and Miami's Ted Ginn Jr.
As always, the writers chimed in with their thoughts about some of the players they voted for:
JasonB from Bleeding Green Nation didn't think Usi Umenyiora deserved the same kind of defensive accolades others did:
TheSportsGuru thought the entire Rams roster deserved a spot on the Worst Player category:
Brandon from Acme Packing Company stood up for Justin Harrell:
Peyton is doing his best Tom Brady impression this season, winning games despite a rookie LT, missing his favorite wideout and injuries in his backfield.
The difference: Manning has a personality, and a non-evil coach
Off. Player: Tom Brady, QB, New England
Brady is doing his best Peyton Manning impression this season, throwing touchdowns at a record-setting pace with his shiny new offensive weapons.
The difference: most of those touchdowns are coming in garbage time as the Pats mercilessly run up the score in their vendetta against the league.
Plus, Brady's just a tool -- see his arm rub-down at the end of games.
tommasse's retort: With all due respect to Brian G, he's made two huge mistakes here. First, Belichick is not "evil." Such a statement makes him (and anyone who makes such a statement) petty and .. well, very inaccurate, to say the least. "Evil"? What has Belichick done that's "evil"? Really. How can you take such a statement seriously?
Second, through Week 8, only ONE of Brady's touchdowns has come more than halfway through the fourth quarter, only six of 30 have come in the fourth quarter at all. Here's the by-quarter breakdown:
It's pretty easy to see that Brady has thrown most of touchdown passes in the first half: 70 percent! Only 20 percent are 4th-quarter touchdowns; just 3 percent in the last half of the fourth quarter. Of the six 4th-quarter TDs, one came against Dallas with 12:21 left and New England leading by just 7. Another came with 10:22 left in the fourth, and two came with more than 9 minutes left in the game. Hardly "garbage time."
Now, the ballot from BigBlueShoe of Stampede Blue was submitted to the group with Tony Dungy as one of the Best Coach nominations and Belichick as one of the Worst Coach nominations -- a clear attempt to skew the results. Neither coach won either category, and rightly so. Neither Belichick nor Dungy is either the best (considering expectations) or the worst.
I didn't submit a ballot, because most of the teams hadn't played eight games yet, so we weren't really halfway through the season yet, and many ballots were cast long before Week 9 games were played.
So, here are my selections:
NFL MVP: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. Clearly, the addition of a complete complement of receivers has made Brady better than ever, but this is the same Brady we've always known. With Brady, in the regular season since 2001, the Patriots are 80-24. Without Brady for the previous year-plus, they were 5-13. And that 80-24 is with mostly average receivers. With Brady and without Moss this year (speculating), the Patriots are probably 6-2 at worst, possibly 7-1 or 8-0 anyway. With Moss and without Brady (say, with Matt Cassel or Drew Bledsoe or Damon Huard), they're 2-6, maybe 3-5 at best, possibly 1-7. Clearly, Brady is more valuable than Moss, and thus the MVP.
Offensive Player: Randy Moss, WR, New England Patriots. I don't have NFL Sunday Ticket, but I watch as much football as I can, and I have see no one do, consistently, day in and day out, what Moss has done. Some of the plays he has made (and a couple he has almost made) have been mind-melting. What little I saw of him playing for Minnesota and Oakland, he was clearly among the best players on the field. This year, he looks even better. He looks like he's playing a different game, as though the laws of physics apply differently to him than they do to those around him.
Defensive Player: Barrett Ruud, LB, Tampa Bay. After Week 9, Ruud is second in the league with 79 total tackles, 58 solo (4th). He has a pair of defended passes with one interception, and three forced fumbles with two fumble recoveries. While Jeff Garcia appropriately gets a lion's share of the credit for turning Tampa Bay around, Ruud is leading a defense for a first-place team that has scored only 20 points more than it has allowed, and they are fourth in the league in points allowed (16.0).
Some defensive player honorable mentions: Leigh Bodden, LB, Cleveland. Bodden has 48 tackles (41 solo), 12 passes defended with 4 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. Sean Taylor, FS, Washington. Taylor has 38 tackles (30 solo), with 14 passes defended, 5 interceptions and a forced fumble. Mike Vrabel, LB, New England Patriots. Vrabel has 47 tackles, 34 solo (leads Patriots), 8.5 sacks (3rd in league) and 4 forced fumbles (1st in league).
Worst Coach: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers. It's very close between McCarthy and Detroit's Rod Marinelli, with Romeo Crennel third. In favor of Crennel, he's in the AFC, where it's generally harder to made a leap from 3-13 to 5-3 in that conference. Also, trading Charlie Frye and inserting Derek Anderson was pretty brilliant. Geez, maybe I should have put Crennel first? All three coaches' teams are exceeding expectations, whether or not you discount Jon Kitna's "10 wins" prediction, but McCarthy having Green Bay at 7-1, even in the NFC North, is too impressive to ignore. (Nod to Gooch for suggesting Joe Philbin, the Packers offensive coordinator.)
Worst Rookie: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings. I don't see how I can disagree with pretty much anybody who has weighed in, especially after his 296-yard performance when you know he's getting the ball. The Vikings are 3-5 and have Tarvaris Jackson as their quarterback; yet, with only eight games under his belt, he is the only player in the league with more than 1,000 yards rushing (1,036). Peterson leads second-place Willie Parker by 268 yards. That's nuts. Peterson is averaging 129.5 yards per game. Joseph Addai is second, averaging almost 30 yards per game fewer (28.9, actually). Peterson also leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 8. Sick.
Worst Player: QB, San Francisco 49ers. That's right. There's no name there-- just a position. Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer tie each other. They have respective passer ratings of 57.6 and 55.0. They have been sacked 14 times .. each. They have 9 combined interceptions and just 5 combined touchdowns. Dilfer, who is completing just 52.2 percent of his passes, is holding up the average in that category: Smith is completing just 49.7 percent. The worst of it is that the Niners were actually expected to be pretty good this year; they're 2-6, currently with the 7th worst record in the NFL.
Other than honorable mention: Tavaris Jackson, QB, Minnesota Vikings. As good as his rookie teammate is, Jackson is bad. And worse. Jackson has a passer rating of just 50.6 with only 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, while completing just 46.4 percent of his passes. Of course, there's also Rex Grossman (45.2 rating, 1 TD, 6 INT, 52.8 comp %) and Gus Frerotte (44.3 rating, 3 TD, 8 INT, 53.4 comp %).
Worst Coach: Eric Mangini, New York Jets. It's appropriate the Jets wore throwback Titans uniforms this season, because they are having a Titanic season. "Mangenius," himself, has proven himself Judas -- "Captain Judas" -- and is apparently too busy making appearances on The Sopranos and terrible cell phone commercials (the money-grubbing suck) to worry about his team plowing into that iceberg. Ever see Belichick make commercials? It appears he didn't learn much from Belichick at all. But he's going to .. in just about 38 days.
Worst Rookie: JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland Raiders. No rookie has done less to help his team. As for the popular pick of Ted Ginn, you can't blame the kid for Miami picking him ninth.