We are officially at the half-way point, as every team has now played 8 games, and that means it's time to hand out my MHR Mid-Season Awards for the biggest Studs and Duds of the 2006 season so far. Please feel free to comment on where you agree with me and where you might think I am absolutely crazy.
Without further ado, here are the MHR Studs of the Year so far --
Mid-Season MVP -- Peyton Manning, Colts -- I know, I know, it pains me to say it, but the guy has been money when he has needed to be. Without him this team would be 5-3 or even 4-4. Manning has engineered come-back wins in 4 games this season and might be having his best all-around season of his career. A real pain in the ass!
Offensive MVP -- Peyton Manning, Colts -- It goes wothout saying that if Peyton is the MVP of the League that he would be Offensive MVP as well. If I had to pick someone else, I'd have to go with L.T. Agina it hurts me to say that, but it is almost more rewarding to win a division with so many great players, and L.T. is a great player.
Defensive MVP -- Champ Bailey, Broncos -- Has any other defender in the league had the impact of Bailey, especially at a position where the QB has so much influence? Sure, he doesn't lead the League in INT's, but all five he does have this season have come inside his own 5 yard line, with most coming in the end-zone. Now that's clutch. Bailey is also excellent in run support and is a superb tackler. Corners usually don't get much love, but you can't ignore what Bailey means to the Broncos' Defense.
Coach of the Year -- Sean Payton, Saints -- Is there a better story than the New Orleans Saints this season? After the disaster that was 2005 for the Saints they brought in a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, and have run out to a 6-2 record. In any season that would be quite an accomplishent, but when combined with all the outside stuff swirling around the team the past 12 months it is truly incredible.
Rookie of the Year -- Marques Colston, Saints -- Talk about coming out of nowhere. Everyone thought the Rookie of the year would come from the Saints, but not from the 7th Round pick from Hofstra. Colston is in the Top 10 in virtually every receiving category and is a huge reason why the Saints are where they are even though some are saying Reggie Bush has been a disappointment.
And now the other side -- the MHR Duds of the Year --
DUD Player of the Year -- Terrell Owens -- There are several choices here, such as Ben Roethlisberger or Daunte Culpeper, or the entire Raiders' Offense, but I have to go with Owens. Ben and Duante have injury issues that have hampered their off-seasons, and the Raiders are, well, the Raiders. Owens was supposed to be the final piece of a championship puzzle and hasa done nothing but cause problems off the field, and drop passes on it. For further proof, look no further than this past Sunday. Not only did Owens knowingly pre-mediatate a TD celebration, which he KNEW would draw a 15 yard penalty, but then dropped a sure-fire TD that would have given the Cowboys a 26-12 lead in the second half, that probably would have ended the Redskins season. Imagine if Javon Walker did the same two things...Nope, I can't either because Walker is a class guy and great team player!
DUD Coach of the Year -- Bill Parcells -- Ok, I'll admit it. I think Parcells is one of the most overrated coaches in sports. Can someone tell me exactly why he gets all the respect he does? I mena, I know he give the press good quotes for their columns, but exactly what HAS he done without Bill Belichick??? Ummm, nothing, that's right. This year has been the topper so far. The way he has handled the QB situation is a disgrace, and this past Sunday he looked more like the coach at the local high school, gooing for 2 -- IN THE FIRST QUARTER. How did that work out for ya, Bill?? Oh yea, you ended up in a 19-19 tie, and blew it at the end. I guess that extra point would have come in handy.
DUD Rookie of the Year -- Reggie Bush -- I am probably being a little tough on Reggie, but when I hear things like, "Once in a generation player," and, "Can't miss, the next OJ Simspon/Barry Sanders, etc." I take notice, and what I have noticed is Bush isn't the best rookie on is own team. In fairness to Bush, the Saints are still trying to figure out ways to use him, and he probably would have had more of an impact with Houston, but in the end Bush has yet to produce the "Once in a generation" type plays I was expecting. The punt return TD against Tampa a few weeks ago does show a glimpse of what might be to come.
Biggest Surprise of 2006 -- New Orleans Saints -- For all the reason losted above. Quietly the NFL was hoping the Saints would bomb so they could move them to LA, but the football gods had other plans. You can't help but feel good for the team and city after haivng to practice on a high school field, and shower in a tent last season.
Biggest Disappointment of 2006 -- Miami Dolphins -- Again, it would have been easy to go with the Steelers here, but any team defending a Supe Bowl the season after a Hall of Famer retires struggles just a bit -- just ask the 1999 Denver Broncos. I went with the Miami because they were everyone's pre-season darlings, and Nick Saban is the best thing since sliced bread, alledgedly. After a hot finish to the 2005 season, the Dolphins went out and got themseles a quarterback they thought would put them over the top...Unfortunitely they forgot that Culpepper had his leg nearly ripped off last season, and even before that he was struggling without Randy Moss. They are now playing better, and can still salvage a bit of their season, but for the first half of the season the Dolphins get my vote.