NFL Mid-Season Review
The halfway point of the season has arrived and with it, comes the road to the postseason. Let’s take a moment to remember some of the major highlights that have occurred since the start of the season:
Tom Brady has had a new wide receiving core this season. He’s had an undrafted free agent in Kenbrell Thompkins, to go along with wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. While at times they have made tremendous catches on game winning drives, they have struggled all season long with catching passes throughout the course of the game when Brady targets them. It was a long and arduous road for the Patriots and Brady as they were being forced to wait for Rob Gronkowski’s recovery and reintroduction into the offense, but somehow they managed to be 5-1 fending off teams such as the Falcons and Saints in improbable wins. Brady and this offense still has a long way to go, but now that Gronkowski is back and Amendola for the mean time still remains healthy they should be shoo-in to win the AFC East.
ACL Injuries; Major Losses for Teams
8 weeks into this season, it is evident that there has been an outbreak of Achilles and ACL disease. It seems that every week there is another star player for a team suffers one of these injuries. The Colts just recently lost Reggie Wayne to an ACL injury. The Patriots lost two of their most important defensive pieces on defense in Jarod Mayo (Torn Pectoral Muscle) and Vince Wilfork(Achilles) for the season and have just recently lost one of their most prominent pieces on the offensive line. That’s just to name a few. Teams league wide have been losing significant pieces to their offenses and defenses for the season due to injury. These losses may turn out to have major implications on whether or not teams advance in the playoffs come January.
Denver and Kansas City
While everyone expected Peyton Manning to have a stellar year with that stellar wide receiving core, no one expected him to be putting the kind of numbers that he has been putting up. He seriously has taken his game to another level while elevating the numbers of players like wide receiver Julius Thomas who has not been in this league for very long, in what has turned out to be a very competitive AFC North division. The competitors to the Broncos are a team that for years has been in the cellar of the division: the Kansas City Chiefs. During the offseason the Chiefs picked up two people who are out to prove that they are winners in this league. Alex Smith and Andy Reid were both exiled from their previous teams with question marks as to whether or not they still had what it takes to compete in the NFL. After an 8-0 start to the season they have taken sole possession of first place and have silenced the critics and answered those questions week after week. It’s going to be a very interesting to see who wins the division since both teams are playing exceptionally well.
While there are teams that have no worries in terms of making the playoffs, there are other teams that have severely underperformed this season. Teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, and the Houston Texans came into the season with very high expectations to win their respective divisions. The Falcons were expected to put up a solid fight against the Saints in NFC South, but because of injuries to Roddy White and Julio Jones, Matt Ryan has been forced to rely on Harry Douglas to shoulder the load. The Texans are now relying on their third string quarterback Case Keetum to lead the team to victory because their former quarterbacks Matt Shaub and second stringer TJ Yates are interception prone. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all four of these teams though, has to be the Giants and Eli Manning. They have gotten off to a terrible 2-6 start to the season with no expectation for them to turn things around. At this juncture they have pretty much eliminated their chances of making it to the postseason.
Sophomore Seasons (Russell Wilson, RG3, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrew Luck)
Russel Wilson: The sophomore Seattle quarterback has gotten off to a pretty good start to the season. While he hasn’t been playing at the same level as last season his team has managed to back him up with their defense.
Robert Griffin III: Coming into the start of the season there was a lot of questions as to whether or not RG3 would come back off his ACL injury to play just as good as he did last season. That hasn’t been the case leading into the half way point of the season. Robert has not been able to muster up a win against any significant team in the league. I question his ability to lead from the simple fact that there doesn’t appear to be any urgency from him. He’s chill during press conferences. He’s chill on the sidelines after a four and out. He’s chill after a loss. In my opinion, Kirk Cousin should be the starter of this football team.
Colin Kaepernik: Kaepernik has gone back to his old way of playing football. At the start of the season, he was making attempts at staying in the pocket and becoming that prototypical football player. A lot of the scrambling plays that fans had become used to were nonexistent which led to some losses in the beginning. Now that he has gone back to adding that running threat to his game he has been able to string together four straight wins and keep pace with the 1st place Seahawks.
Andrew Luck: Out of all four of these quarterbacks, the most impressive has definitely been Andrew Luck. After a season where he set the rookie quarterback record for yards, Luck has proven that he has that toughness and winning mentality to replace Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.
Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson
The guy had 329 yards on 14 receptions in one game against a very good defensive football team.
Defensive Player of the Year: Richard Sherman
Despite being the ultimate trash talker, Richard Sherman makes plays. He is the defensive leader of this defense similar to a Ray Lewis at the corner back position if you will.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy
Ever since coming back from his concussion injury, Lacy has been unconscious running the football for the Packers. Really has helped Aaron Rodgers set up that play action this season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso
Since coming into the league Alonso has been one of the most active defensive players on the Bills. He also has 4 interceptions 8 weeks into the season.
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid
The Chiefs have gone from a 2-14 finish last year to an 8-0 start to this season. Andy Reid is definitely going to be Coach of the Year; all he needs is a playoff berth to seal it.