Well, eight weeks of the 2011 NFL Season has passed. Time flies when you’re having fun, as the old adage says. So far, this season has been full of twists, and turns, and it has been a lot of fun. I am really enjoying the season. I really think that outside of a few teams that just about ANY team could wind up with the proverbial blanket of roses, meaning of course, the Lombardi. Week to week, fans are seeing upsets, and surprise teams coming up with wins, and favorites having difficulties. This aspect is what makes the NFL so great. Any team can beat any team in the NFL.
In this blog, I will be giving a brief examination of each of the 32 NFL teams, and give out some half year awards to players and coaches. I will be giving letter grades for the teams’ performances, and some of the “awards” will be not only the usual (MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc) but a little unorthodox. Please remember that these grades and awards are for the FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON.
Without further ado, here are my grades and awards for the NFL at the Halfway Point:
Buffalo Bills - A very surprising team. For years, this team was a doormat, but with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick , and RB Fred Jackson, the team is perking along. They even lead NE by 1/2 a game. This was a shocker. Of course, I want to see more. GRADE: A -
New York Jets - As the song from “West Side Story” goes, “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet……” Well, it seems to me that Head Coach Rex Ryan is acting as if his team is in some sort of “West Side Story” war with the Patriots considering how obsessed he is with them (and vice versa even though the Pats don’t make it known publicly). To concentrate on HIS team. There are problems with O line, and OC Brian Schottenheimer can’t decide if he want to have QB Mark Sanchez throw, or RBs Shonne Green and Ladanian Tomlinson run. The pass rush is lacking despite a very good secondary. GRADE: C+
Miami Dolphins - Head Coach Tony Sporano is a walking dead man so to speak. He is going to get fired. It is just a matter of when. I thought owner Stephen Ross would have done the decent thing to do and fired Sporano after LAST season and THEN go look for someone else, but , oh well. Nothing much to say about this team. GRADE: EPIC FAIL
Baltimore Ravens - Well, the Ravens won their “Super Bowl” so to speak in Week One when they pounded on the Steelers. What have they done lately? They have been just alright. Defense is great, but they do realize they have to put some points on the board, right? I had to just laugh when the commentators on ESPN were saying how the Ravens were the “best in the AFC.” Really? Is that why they couldn’t beat a sorry Jaguars team? I don’t see much in Flacco. Ray Rice , the RB, is about the only weapon they got. They do a lot talking, but actions speak louder than words. GRADE: B+
Cleveland Browns - Well, this team is still the Browns. They are playing a little better, but that stinker against the Seattle Seahawks was just yuck. I mean, they do know they are playing football and not baseball, right? Not much to say. GRADE: D
Cincinnati Bengals - WOW. This team is one of the surprises. I thought they would win just a couple of games, but I was wrong. Good to see Andy Dalton at QB having success, and his fellow rookie WR, A..J Green also having success. Of course, when the schedule gets tougher, and the rookie wall hits, that is when the team’s season will be interesting. GRADE: B
Pittsburgh Steelers – Well. Well Well. I hope that Warren Sapp is watching the Steelers. After all, he was leading the charge of naysayers saying the Steelers were “old and slow.” The team is being hit with injuries to their Offensive Line every week. They are hurting in their defense, but they keep on winning. Big Ben is showing naysayers once again why he is an elite QB. GRADE: A
San Diego Chargers- Well, A.J Smith must really love Norv Turner. Sorry, but I don’t think the team is as good. Rivers SAYS there is nothing wrong, but his accuracy is way off, and his judgment is off. I am not a fan of the guy, but he is not this bad. I just can’t seem to pinpoint what’s going on with this team. Grade: B -
Oakland Raiders - What a tumultuous eight weeks it has been for the Raiders. They start out well, but then they lose their owner, the great Al Davis (RIP), and they then lose QB Jason Campbell to a collar bone injury. They then go out and make a crazy trade with the Bengals for QB Carson Palmer. You could knocked me over with a feather because I thought Michael Brown, the Bengals owner would never make a deal. The first game after that was a disaster. They used Kyle Bollar AND Carson Palmer, but got blown out by the Chiefs. We will have to see after the bye if Palmer is any better. GRADE: C+
Kansas City Chiefs - They stumbled out of the gate for sure, starting out 0 -3. However, they got themselves up, and now thanks to the infamous fumble on Monday Night Football by Philip Rivers of the Chargers, the Chiefs are in a three way tie for first place in the AFCW. Destiny can change in a blink of an eye for sure. GRADE: C
Denver Broncos - What a mess. If you want and example of “the tail wagging the dog,” just google it, and the Denver Broncos should pop up. Now I admit that Kyle Orton was not having a good run, and the record was 1 -5, but fans need to remember that THEY don’t run the organization. Fans don’t make the big decisions. That is why John Elway, and John Fox were hired. They made decisions for the team. What I am getting at is that I THOUGHT that Brady Quinn was the #2 guy on the roster. If Orton failed, I thought Quinn was the “next man up.” Since when do you skip #2 to go to #3? I guess because this Tebow guy has a rock star like following he had to start. Well, start he did, and from the two games he played, it is quite obvious that he had set QB play back 100 years. The kid can’t play.. GRADE: EPIC FAIL
Indianapolis Colts - This one is easy. What we are seeing is the result of Bill Polian, as brilliant an NFL GM as he is, and the Colts’ ownership (that means YOU Mr. Isray) putting their eggs in one basket , and when that basket breaks, all the eggs are scrambled. In other words, I feel that the Colts organization over the years have kowtowed to Peyton Manning (as good as Peyton was, I totally get it) , and paid him so much, that they couldn’t pay other players, and also as Manning AGED, never drafted a young QB to groom when Manning retired. They very well MIGHT have had an Aaron Roders/Brett Farve drama thing, but I am sorry. All that worked out for Green Bay, didn’t it? Do people in Indy think Manning is going to play forever? Even in New England, they drafted Ryan Mallet who likely will be Brady’s replacement. Like Colin Cowherd says on ESPN Radio, “Don’t fall in love with one player.” As for their playing, there is a lot of talent on that team, and I don’t get it.. They can’t win ONE GAME without Manning? GRADE: EPIC FAIL
Jacksonville Jaguars - Much like Miami, this is another team with a coach that may be a dead man walking. Right before the season, Del RIo cut QB David Garrard. That was a bit puzzling. Of course, now that Garrard just had back surgery, it makes sense. The Jags defense has shown it could be stifling. Ask the Steelers, and especially the Ravens. Offensively though, young Gabbert needs a lot seasoning. GRADE: D
Tennessee Titans - This team is a minor surprise. There is a first time coach having success. There is Matt Hassellbeck as QB who is having a pretty good season. They had that contract drama with Chris Johnson settled, but Johnson has yet to return to his old form. Titans defense is not too bad either. GRADE: C+
Houston Texans - Well, the wiseguy team may just come through. In a couple of games, I wasn’t sure, but they are on top the AFC SOUTH. My concern is when Andre Johnson, their top WR will return. Arian Foster , their star RB , is fantastic. Defense is still good, even without Mario Williams, However, I want to see more. GRADE: B+
NEW YORK GIANTS - The New York Giants have been a MASH unit since pre -season. Good grief. They are just injured all around. They are without Steve Smith who went to the rival Eagles. They are starting to imitate the 2007 Giants by giving their fans coronaries. Eli Manning came through in the 4th quarter in the Miami game for the win this past week. They have gone through the “easy” part of their schedule. It is tough sledding the rest of the way for the G Men. GRADE: B+
Philadelphia Eagles - This team stumbled out of the gate, and just lost ground in this race. They are going to really get their rear ends in gear. They may have needed to get used to playing with the new players (Nnamdi, Cullen Jenkins, etc). and such. In the game against the Cowboys, QB Vick was sensational. He really did a great job. The team , at least in my opinion, finally showed what it could be against the Cowboys. The question I have, and I think it is a fair one: can they keep it up? GRADE: C -
Washington Redskins - Earth to Rex Grossman: Don’t start what you can’t finish. I mean, I understand that you are confident, but saying your team is going to win the division with YOU of all people at QB, come on. The Skins started out great, but as they usually do, they start to falter. Yeah, they have been hit by injuries as well. GRADE: D
Dallas Cowboys - I don’t know what to make of them, honestly. They look like a powerhouse one week, then they look like a high school team the next. I mean, the offensive line has a lot of problems, and their defense, especially their secondary, is suspect. DeMarcus Ware is a beast, but he can’t be the only defensive person doing his job. That Newman dude they got is ok at times. Now, I am not a Romo basher. The guy is a good QB. A lot of times, the wide receiver will run the wrong routes, and such. Yeah, Romo has the issues with some dumb mistakes, but he isn’t the horror story that the media makes him out to be. GRADE – C
San Francisco 49ers - What a surprise. This team went from the outhouse to the penthouse since they got Jim Harbaugh as head coach. This team is much more physical, and runs the ball, and takes care of the ball much better than last year. I am NOT saying this team is going to bring home a Lombardi this year, but outside of a historical collapse, this team should have the division sewn up soon, and should be in the running for the #2 seed in the playoffs. GRADE: A
St. Louis Rams - Well, at the expense of the Saints, the Rams finally got a win. They are a young team, and such, but it took them till week EIGHT to win a game? Sam Bradford, who is hurt, may being going through the sophomore slump as QB. GRADE: D
Seattle Seahawks - Nothing much to say about this mess of a team. They give Tavaris Jackson a good sized contract for what reason exactly? He can’t play QB, and neither can that Charlie Whitehurst. They are a mess on both sides of the ball. GRADE: EPIC FAIL
Arizona Cardinals - This was the team that most people ,including me, to win the division. Well, we were wrong. Should have known. Kevin Kolb is not much of a starting QB. Larry Fitgerald must be frustrated. Poor guy. Great receiver on a terrible team with NO defense. GRADE: D
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Well, this team had a lot of promise last year, especially QB Josh Freeman. However, Freeman seems to have regressed a bit. The team seems to have regressed as well. Hopefully, Head Coach Raheem Morris can get these guys going again when they get off their bye. GRADE: B -
Carolina Panthers- During the pre Draft hype, all I heard from the naysayers was that Cam Newton should not go #1 because of the allegations or he was gonna be a bust, or because people just hated him. Former QB Warren Moon believed in Cam, and Moon turned out to be right.. Cam has the ability to stand tall in the pocket. He makes great throws. He doesn’t automatically run. Yes, he is making rookie mistakes, but he will get better. He is going to need a couple of more weapons. Defense could be much better. GRADE: C -
New Orleans Saints - This team’s first half the year has been filled with some ups and downs. Drew Brees is still showing that he is an elite QB, but the team as a whole, I don’t know. Something seems to be missing. The defense is up and down to me. However, I think they will be in the playoff hunt. GRADE: B
Atlanta Falcons - Boy , this team is mind boggling. Last year, they were destroying teams, and the #1 seed. Now, they are just an above average team in comparison. I think that by using RB Turner more, they are getting their sea legs under them. I do think they will be getting better on defense as well. GRADE: C+
Green Bay Packers- This is the defending Super Bowl champs. Of course, the 1972 Dolphins are cheering for the Packers’ opponents every week, because those guys like Mercury Morris are so vain about their record. Those dudes are so waiting to have their silly little celebration and pop their champagne when the last undefeated team loses. Anyway, offensively, Aaron Rodges and his bunch are on fire. Defensively, I don’t think they are as good as last year. They are giving up a lot of yards, and giving up points. Could be vulnerable when the winter months come. GRADE: A
Chicago Bears - Hey Head Coach Lovie Smith, do you guys HAVE an O line? I thought Pittsburgh’s was bad. The Bears’ line is worse. No wonder QB Jay Cutler is running for his life. The Bears have a wonderful defense, and the special teams is great, especially when Devon Hester gets the ball. Offensively, they have to get that offense together. Cutler hasn’t been terrific, and neither has Martz. I never thought Martz was a great choice for Chicago. GRADE: C+
Minnesota Vikings - Oh boy. This team gave up 3 or 4 fist half leads in the early part of the season. Gosh, I just could not believe it. I think what could have helped them was if they had started Christian Ponder as QB earlier. I mean in the first game, McNabb threw 39 yards the whole game. 39 yards? REALLY? They have a good defense, Adrian Peterson, and stuck with McNabb for 4 or 5 weeks? What a mess. GRADE: D
Detroit Lions - A big surprise here. They started 5 -0, but then remembered they were the Lions and lost a couple of games. They took their frustrations out on the Broncos and Tim Tebow this past week. Stafford is becoming a very good QB, and Megatron is just awesome. Their defense is nasty. Awesome defense, especially Mr. Suh. GRADE: A -
MY AWARDS AT THE HALFWAY POINT:
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers (GB) – playing out of his mind.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Brady (NE), Steve Smith (CAR)
COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Harbaugh (SF) – Turned around a losing franchise, and Alex Smith
Honorable Mentions: Mike Tomlin (PIT), Jim Schwartz (DET)
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Wes Welker (NE) – He is just racking up yards for New England.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Rodgers (GB), Arian Foster (HOU)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lamar Woodley (PIT) He has been just a beast.
Honorable Mentions: Troy Polamalu (PIT), DeMarcus Ware (DAL)
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Cam Newton (CAR) He is very impressive for a guy who has only played one year of college ball at QB.
Honorable Mentions: Andy Dalton (CIN), Nate Solder (NE)
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Patrick Peterson (AZ). Very good player. Did a good job on special teams against Ravens.
No Honorable Mentions
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Wes Welker (NE) Welker suffered an ACL tear in the last game of the 2009 season against the Texans. He returned in 2010,and had a so so season, but this year, he has been fantastic.
No Honorable Mentions
MY OWN AWARDS (meant to be in jest, so don’t take them seriously. Just for fun)
THE “I HAVE A BIG MOUTH” AWARD: Terrell Suggs (BAL).. This award goes Mr. Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens who runs his mouth so much, that I just want to put a sock in there.
Honorable Mentions: Rex Ryan (NYJ), Philip RIvers (SD)
THE HOTTEST NFL PLAYER AWARD: Tom Edward Brady (NE). Enough said. The guy is gorgeous. When God made him, He broke the mold.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT), Adrian Peterson (MIN) , Christian Ponder (MIN)
Last but not least: MY MEDIA AWARDS: (again in fun)
THE “MUTE THE TV” AWARD: Jon Gruden God, if I weren’t DVRing Raw at the same time, I would MUTE Monday Night Football. Gruden drives me NUTS. OH GOD. The guy pretty much has an orgasm over every QB right there on the air. It makes me nuts. Of course, now that I mention it, maybe I should mute it………I won’t have to hear that dope Michael Cole either.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Collinsworth, Joe Buck
ESPN PERSONALITY I WOULD LIKE TO HUG: Adam Schefter. So far this season, Adam has been on the ball giving updates about injuries, and things like breaking news, and all. He came over from NFL Network , and has been awesome.
ESPN PERSONALITY I WOULD LIKE TO HIT: Mike Greenberg. Oh God. Greenberg is so annoying. Why is it that the only cool Jets fans I know are FEMALE?? This guy is so overboard as a Jet fan, it is ridiculous. Every time they talk football or whatever, it seems to go back to how it effects his Jets. He puts his “Jinx” on the Patriots because he needs them to lose. He did it twice this season so far. I know the show is set up as Golic looks at things from the “player’s” perspective, and Greenberg is supposed to look at things from a “fan’s” perspective, but his obsession with his Jets is just silly, and he is an idiot, and he is bordering on being a word I can’t write on here but it is a 7 letter word that starts with an “A” and ends with an “E” so you can figure it out. Just makes me nuts at times.
Well, that was a fun blog to do. I hope you all enjoyed it.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead