@TSFSports 2013-2014 NFL awards predictions and commentary

calvin-johnson-300x278Professional football has been in existence for roughly 118 years and the game even after all that time has never been better. Look at all the talent across the league at every position. The athletes get better and better, sound technique is becoming more consistent and the stakes continue to be high. The owners are smelling like millions of dollars saving roses even after losing the concussion lawsuit, but expect a lot more legal stuff as players get bigger, stronger and faster.

This season is so hard to call. Just when you thought a few juggernauts will rise and take over, under the radar squads have legitimate shots to shock and give the dramatic NFL even more suspenseful drama. Some questions to ponder (no pun intended): will Adrian Peterson rush for 2,500 yards and lead Minnesota into the playoffs again in what has become an undeniably passing league? Will the focus be on the right QB’s for the right reasons? The critique of versatile quarterbacks needs to evolve and become much more realistic, well rounded and most importantly, accurate.  Seems like the entire preseason talk was about everything Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton said or did while Andy Dalton and Andrew Luck were rarely mentioned. The latter two escaped a pressurized preseason for real. Why is their development not more heavily scrutinized? They don’t need you to coddle them. Let them be great.

Change the narrative and stop being so indifferent to inevitable change. QB rushing yards should hold more weight because every yard gained leads to wins. Instead of throwing the ball away and changing possession, moving the chains on third and say 15 affords a team an extra possession and another chance to score. Correct, so why are QB rushing yards only important in fantasy leagues? Doesn’t make any sense but when it comes to common sense thought, everyone is on the clock. Mobile QB’s aren’t going anywhere (neither are pocket passers), so accept their existence (they’ll be good ones and bad ones just like their traditional counterparts), attempt to be objective (the best player is going to play) in your analysis and get the read option the hell out the league. RG3…yeah I’m talking to you…if Mike or Kyle Shanahan sends you out on routes, change the play. Stop doing everything your coach says when you know your livelihood is at stake. Does it seem logical for your head coach to expect you to run routes in the middle of the field vs. anyone…let alone the forever hard hitting Steelers? All Shanahan will say is “Next man up!” when you’re hurt. Kirk Cousins is an insurance policy. This is your career, so temper your fearlessness. If Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees aren’t running off tackle and risking injury because they’re the faces of their respective franchises and so important to the league’s brand, why should you coming off a very serious knee injury?

The current wave of field generals are strong armed quarterbacks who just so happen to also have great running ability. I get the temptation for coaches to let them run wild but mix it up so they don’t have to lead their teams in rushing all year and be subjected to all that punishment. The season is long and taking unnecessary hits does nothing for the critical part of the season if your star QB is on the sideline injured and carrying a clip board when your team is at your one foot line with 2:00 left on the clock and down six. Coaches should use their physical gifts wisely and keep QB’s in the pocket until they absolutely need to run or have wide open lanes. These cats aren’t built with thick thighs like running backs and unless their names are Newton, Pryor, Freeman or Luck because of size and durability, the smart move would be to build teams around these young leaders (and the aforementioned) instead of the quarterbacks looking like LeBron James and leading the entire team in every statistical category. Coaches, that’s on you. Resist that temptation just because the entire field is now yours, because remember, defenders will hit your QB whether the ball is pitched or not and careers will be shortened.  If this continues, look for two quarterback systems in the very near future where offensive coordinators implement change of pace and hot hand roles for each of their QB’s of different abilities. If Newton in particular is hyper-criticized for losses despite having a less than stellar organization, your opinions are just not credible. If Cam is throwing errant passes, suffers from leadership issues at any time or is loose with the ball then all criticism is valid. Just get off that BS about his smile or sulking after a loss to a much better team. I’d be more comfortable if my young leader is pissed off for losing to a better team, because that’s how you get better. That shit is supposed to sting and makes the skin thick….the deep outs thrown with more zip. Ron Rivera and company must give the face of the franchise ample talent and I don’t know if Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LeFell are the answers. We’ll see if Carolina’s talent holds up before halves or late in the forth quarter when talent rises and performs accordingly. You want to see Cam have success? Give him the receivers Joe Flacco has or Matt Ryan and watch what transpires. Load him up like Denver did Peyton and see a Super Cam air show the likes of a young Peyton himself. Steve Smith is still the man, but he shouldn’t be asked to carry the load when two running backs can do the trick. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart must ball out. How talented are those two? Shouldn’t both backs gain at least 1,000 yards? Speaking of Ron Rivera, how will the rash of coaching changes play out? Who is the young coordinator to watch and potentially become a great head coach? Will the Giants drive Tom Coughlin crazy or make their usual late season playoff push? You know Eli is ready and so is Victor Cruz. This is your shot David Wilson. You better hold onto the rock kid. Will refs throw excessive amounts of unsportsmanlike conduct flags and further frustrate fans?

Sunday is supposed to be Funday

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Is the NFC East still the most rugged division in football? Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are poised for a big season. See what happens when front offices are patient with coaches? How long will the Pats stay ahead of the curve? Will the mess of the Jets smooth out or will Rex Ryan be unemployed at the end of the season? Where are you Chris Johnson? Honey Badger, are you hype (yes hype) to play with your boy Patrick Peterson? Matt Schaub will you cotdamn do something different and win a few playoff games please? Will Andy Reid run the rock in KC? Is Denver overrated? Is Philadelphia underrated? Is this the Cowboys year? Will a receiver not named Megatron (pictured above) or Bryant break out? Who wins the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes? Will Matthew Stafford bounce back? Will Calvin Johnson also hit the 2,000 yard mark after just falling short last season? How will Darrelle Revis perform in Tampa Bay? Has New Orleans recovered? Will Peyton Manning cement his legacy by leading the Broncos to another title? Will we have a repeat Super Bowl? What do you think Ray Lewis is doing right this very second? So many more questions…Are. You. Ready?

Before the season begins Thursday, these are the cats I think will nab post season NFL awards…

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

This is how the rich get richer. GM’s of perennial playoff teams mull over picks on draft day and a player that should not have been on the board lands in their most fortunate lap. When DuJuan Harris suffered a season ending injury, I immediately thought Eddie Lacy would have an incredible season despite being a rookie. He has to be fired up because he was the fourth running back taken in the draft. Look at his most recent predecessors at Alabama and realize both are solid backs that will only get better. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson went in the first round, and it looks like T. J. Yeldon — Lacy’s successor at Bama — will also be a very much coveted high first round pick barring injury. Lacy is the choice here because of the aforementioned shoulder chips and also because Green Bay’s loaded offense will allow him to showcase his hit ’em like a tank ability during well executed drives resembling not boxing flurries, but Tyson bolo KO’s. Lacy is a back that will bury your squad in the 4th quarter with all his strength and power (don’t put too much into his 40 time) and is young and hungry. Big boys gotta eat right? Green Bay might have robbed their competitors and won the NFL because other teams just don’t get how beneficial a runner like Lacy is when surrounded by superior offensive talent.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions

Sports is something because occasionally at first sight a player just looks like he or she is destined for greatness. Doesn’t have to be on the field or in a controlled training exercise…they just have it. The Lions must think such of Ziggy Ansah, for taking him 5th overall with the pieces already on that boss line says the dog didn’t eat their homework and research was done diligently and turned in on time. With that offense, the Lions need a formidable defense to forget about the 4-12 season of last year. Ziggy lacks experience, but makes up for inexperience with tremendous athleticism and intelligence. The rest can be taught correct? Just ask JPP. Ansah seems to have an instinct propelling him past offensive linemen and we know what that does for a defense with even the most maligned secondary. Many times it’s not about strength (Ansah has ample amounts to be certain), but more the ability of giving linemen the athletic slip. Think about all those D ends in the past who didn’t do it like Reggie White but more like Charles Haley…Aldon Smith (backer but you get it) comes to mind. The Jason Taylor types and also the Jevon Kearse types seemingly forever in the quarterback’s face with bass. They all had that slip and you never forgot their names did you? This is a line that has Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on the inside? Shewww. Ziggy Ansah is coming off a preseason concussion — which might slow him early — but I don’t envy any quarterback on the Lions’ schedule because even the bulked up Jason Jones will get to the QB. When Ziggy gets professionally confident, all Detroit has to do is make the right personnel decisions for the rest of the defense and this unit will be incredible.

Coach of the Year

Jason Garrett, head coach, Dallas Cowboys

21-19 as a head coach in Dallas is unacceptable, but Jason Garrett still has a job and one of the best teams heading into the season. Getting Miles Austin back at full strength helps especially Tony Romo, but also frees up Dez Bryant as well. Dallas is going to score a lot of points and their defense will be just as stout not giving up points. The NFC East is a great place to build a head coaching legacy with all of its weekly story lines and chances to refocus, and honestly, this just looks like a year Dallas shows and proves it is not a big TV in Big D joke with an all too involved owner playing with monopoly money. Jason Garrett has no excuse and given the talent on both sides of the ball, he’ll probably be out as head coach if he doesn’t win…this season. How is that for inspiration? Further, what better way of galvanizing a locker room than extending the face of the franchise? Support abounds in Dallas and if they don’t get in their own way, Dallas will be a problem. I see this team putting up 40 a few times this year. Garrett has looked lost at times, but now that his leaders are very much seasoned and expect everything of themselves, all he has to do to claim this award is draw up the right game plan consistently for 16 games. There will be all kinds of good and bad press in Dallas, but hasn’t Jason Garrett seen it all?

Comeback Player of the Year

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Career stats
Year
Team
Cmp%
Yds
TD
Int
Rate
2012
Eagles
58.1
2,362
12
10
78.1
2011
Eagles
59.8
3,303
18
14
84.9
2010
Eagles
62.6
3,018
21
6
100.2
2009
Eagles
46.2
86
1
0
93.8
2006
Falcons
52.6
2,474
20
13
75.7
2005
Falcons
55.3
2,412
15
13
73.1
2004
Falcons
56.4
2,313
14
12
78.1
2003
Falcons
50.0
585
4
3
69.0
2002
Falcons
54.9
2,936
16
8
81.6
2001
Falcons
44.2
785
2
3
62.7
Career
56.3
20,274
123
82
80.6

Mike won CPOY after having a nice 2010 season. After the offensive line fell apart because of injury, it’s been hell for Mike the last two years and he’s taken more hits than prom fiends. With the great Jason Peters back, Vick could arguably be one of 5 Eagles players up for the award (Trent Cole, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy and the aforementioned Peters being the others) if Chip Kelly and the Birds make some league noise. Yeah, last season was not a good year in Philly, and with an offense made for his skills, if Vick hits his reads and plays are made down field, the Eagles could actually shock. Criticism comes easy in Philly. If you suck, the city will give it to you. If you are great, they will also let you know. Many times last season, folks in and out of the city stated that despite the o-line being in shambles, Vick held onto the ball too long, threw picks and was hit too much. Listen folks, open your minds and actually watch an Eagles game. If a receiver is open, and Mike doesn’t have a bunch of big dudes coming for his neck, plays will be made. His arm is still otherworldly. Protection is key and no quarterback alive or not has won a Super Bowl with tattered and torn protection.  Philadelphia’s line is definitely looking to improve because there is no place else to go but up. I mention this because for once, I want people to watch the snap, watch the protection and watch WR routes all across the league. You’ll see a different game. Don’t listen to the analysts and see what’s going on with your own eyes. Count the seconds and judge for yourselves if Mike Vick was the biggest problem for the Eagles the last few years. I’m no Mike Vick apologist, but I gave you the facts of last season why Philadelphia underachieved so tremendously. Andy Reid became too predictable and Vick tried to do to much when he wasn’t on the sideline wearing an Eagles visor. Teams knew Reid would pass the rock instead of utilizing McCoy to run it, so the defense drooled when the down marker said 3 and the distance was long. They want to tell their grand kids they sacked the elusive Michael Vick. So, Vick should actually win this by default if he stays on the field. He looks like a kid again. Exuberant and starving for success — as he should — because this might be Mike’s last opportunity to lead any team as a QB1. Everyone knew who the starter was in preseason despite Chip Kelly not naming a starter until the third preseason game. Mike took the challenge and did well with it. The Riley Cooper incident probably gave him even more perspective because he was asked to be a leader and the city seems cool with it. There are those who will never like Mike and there are also those who say he can do no wrong, but the Eagles still have many questions to answer. Losing his most productive receiver in Jeremy Maclin will be an obstacle, but this could also be Mike’s Redemption Song. DeSean is due for a big year. A big year of 80+ catches and double digit scores and we know Mike can get him the ball. Brent Celek will have a big year if he doesn’t have to stay in and protect and Shady is getting his 1,500 +. The Eagles will again be quick strike with a few more wrinkles than even Reid had in his pocket at times, so the Eagles would be best to not make a lot of noise off the field and do what needs to be done on the field.

Step it up Mike and tell DeSean the same. You too Riley Cooper…

Defensive Player of the Year

Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

Career stats
Year
Team
Comb
Ast
Sack
Int
Yds
TD
2012
Bengals
54
8
12.5
0
0
0
2011
Bengals
47
21
7.5
0
2010
Bengals
16
6
3.0
0
Career
117
35
23.0
0
0
0

 

Geno is 25 years of gifted yet controlled and razor sharp edge. Adding James Harrison makes the Bengals D as formidable as any in the league. What people are realizing because of HBO’s Hard Knocks is just how talented James Harrison really is and combined with the young and assured Geno Atkins, offensive coordinators will most definitely earn their money keeping both out of the backfield. The number that jumps out is Geno’s 12.5 sacks from a year ago — which was a league best from the inside. This kid is only going to get better (in ’11 Atkins tied for league league in interior linemen sacks with 7.5) and under Marvin Lewis, Atkins will be taught every trick to take full advantage of his astounding ability. The already 2 time Pro Bowler just signed a 5 year 55 million extension and not that he’s got the money, the post season accolades will come as well. He’s just too good.  Can you believe Atkins fell into the 4th round? Crazy huh? Watch out for the Bengals.

Offensive Player of the Year

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Career stats
Year
Team
Rec
Yds
Avg
Lng
TD
Yds
Avg
2012
Cowboys
92
1,382
15.0
85
12
-5
-2.5
2011
Cowboys
63
928
14.7
50
9
5
5.0
2010
Cowboys
45
561
12.5
46
6
0
0.0
Career
200
2,871
14.4
85
27
0
0.0

Look at Dez Bryant’s production and predict his improvement based on jump in catches and yards over his three years in the league. This kid is ready. With so much on the line in Dallas, Jerry Jones is fortunate to have Dez rock the Playmaker Michael Irvin’s (and Drew Pearson of course) #88 in monster clothing. All sheepish defensive backs beware. How many receivers are as strong as Bryant? The entire field is his now with not that much resistance. Dez caught 92 balls from Tony Romo and is finally showing what we thought he was capable of coming out of that Oklahoma State storm. The physical ability was apparent the second we saw Bryant play, but now that he’s becoming a vet in the game and gaining NFL fire, an 1,800 yard, 20 touchdown season is not unrealistic. Few can guard Bryant and the way the league is trending over the middle of the field, Bryant’s size and power is a definitive advantage. Jerry Jone…dammit…might be on to something super as well.

MVP

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Career stats
Year
Team
Cmp%
Yds
TD
Int
Rate
2012
Cowboys
65.6
4,903
28
19
90.5
2011
Cowboys
66.3
4,184
31
10
102.5
2010
Cowboys
69.5
1,605
11
7
94.9
2009
Cowboys
63.1
4,483
26
9
97.6
2008
Cowboys
61.3
3,448
26
14
91.4
2007
Cowboys
64.4
4,211
36
19
97.4
2006
Cowboys
65.3
2,903
19
13
95.1
2005
Cowboys
Career
64.7
25,737
177
91
95.6

 

Everyone knows I’ve been very hard on Tony Romo and it has nothing to do with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has just one playoff win and that came vs. an Eagles team in total disarray. I’ve been critical of Romo because would he still have a job if he was the quarterback in New York or Philadelphia boasting just one post season victory? Hell no. The years of Dallas ruling the league went out with the cabbage patch, but all that is about to stop. Tony Romo hasn’t had bad years, but it just seemed like in the biggest moments he flubbed. The players have changed and so have the coaches over his career, so who else is to blame? This is a quarterback’s league right?

So what.

You all know my allegiance, so picking Bryant and Romo for these last two awards is not something I wanted to do, but it’s something I have to do. Everything is pointing towards this being Dallas’ year. The NFC East will be tougher than imagined, but Dallas will win the division and as a result be thick skinned enough to get to the Super Bowl and claim the title. They will win because Tony Romo has gotten all the trials and tribulations out the way. He’s seen it all and came out the other side with a fat contract and all the confidence and support he needs to finally get Dallas back to the top of the league. Expect a 5k yard passing season with a 65 to 70 completion percentage, over 40 touchdowns and a 13-3 Cowboys record. Dallas will put up a few 40 point games. Don’t get used to this Dallas fans. I feel absolutely queasy writing that, so enjoy it while it lasts.

When Baltimore and Denver kick off tomorrow, it’s gonna feel a lot like Christmas…

Happy NFL football fans. Enjoy the season and good luck to everyone.

2 Responses to “@TSFSports 2013-2014 NFL awards predictions and commentary”

  1. DN says:

    Good one!