Four weeks have come and gone in the 2012 NFL season, and a lot has happened over the first quarter of the season. We’ve seen a few surprises (Saints 0-4, Cardinals 4-0 and Vikings 3-1), and we’ve seen some expectations delivered (Falcons 4-0, Texans 4-0 and Ravens 3-1). We’ve seen hail-Mary’s (some successful and some ruled successful), a plethora of promising rookies (too numerous to list), All-Pro’s return from injuries (Peterson & Charles & McFadden) and All-Pro’s go down (Revis).
We’ve heard some interesting quotes along the way as well. We’ve heard Antonio Cromartie declare himself the second best receiver on the Jets, and the second best cornerback in the league. We’ve heard LaSean McCoy call Osi Umenyiora a ballerina, and this last week we heard what may turn out to be the quote of the year from Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, “This defense, this team, has done some great things,” said Matthews, who has seven sacks and is on pace to break the NFL record. “In fact, we ended the lockout with the referees.”
That’s a great line to close out the first quarter of the season, and a great line to open our 1st Qtr. Awards & Observations. Awards are handed out after weeks 4, 8, 12 and 17, while observations are made throughout the season. Some of you will disagree with some of my picks, and that’s okay; let me know if I missed your guy. I welcome your discourse, dialogue and opinions.
MVP: Matt Ryan
Thus far this season, the award is Matty’s to lose. He is the 2012 version of 2011’s Aaron Rodgers. His 112.1 passer rating leads the league, as do his 11 touchdowns, and he has led his team to a 4-0 start.
Also Considered: Robert Griffin III, Tony Gonzalez
Best QB: Matt Ryan
The 71 yard, :55 second drive with no timeouts from his own 1 yard line to finish Carolina is the stuff legends are made of.
Also Considered: Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub
Best RB: Alfred Morris
Morris came out of nowhere to win the starting job in Washington, and he’s been a model of consistency for a two down back, with 4.6 yards per attempt, 94.0 yards a game and 3 TD’s.
Also Considered: C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew
Best WR: Roddy White
After four games, White has made the fantasy owners who drafted Julio Jones in front of him look foolish. Of his 27 catches to date, 20 have gone for first downs, and 3 for touchdowns.
Also Considered: A.J. Green, Victor Cruz, Calvin Johnson, Danny Amendola
Best TE: Tony Gonzalez
If this is Tony’s farewell tour, he’s making it a great one, leading all tight-ends with 26 catches and 3 touchdowns.
Also Considered: Jimmy Graham, Brent Celek
Best Pass Rusher: DeMarcus Ware
There were only three candidates to consider this early, and Ware trailed the others in sacks, but gets the nod for his 3 forced fumbles.
Also Considered: J.J. Watts, Clay Matthews
Best Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman
Bowman is a force against the pass or the run, making his presence know all over the field. He is near the lead in tackles, with 5 passes defended and a pick.
Also Considered: D’ Qwell Jackson, Sean Lee, Chad Greenway
Best Pass Defender: Cortland Finnegan
With 26 tackles (24 solo) and 3 interceptions, Finnegan has shown he still has skills as well as feistiness.
Also Considered: Tim Jennings, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Thomas DeCloud
Best Rookie: Robert Griffin III
Although he’s thrown for only four touchdowns, the dynamic rookie is on a pace to eclipse 4000 yards passing and 1000 yards rushing. His 103.2 QB rating, 8.6 YPA, and 69.4 completion percentages are all in the top four in the league. In a season with a number of blue chip rookies, he’s running away with the award.
Also Considered: Alfred Morris, Stephan Ridley, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin
That wraps up the quarter season awards. Tune in after week 8 to see how these winners fare at midseason.
I saw a piece on one of the websites this week about the ‘experts’ (we need to find another term) reevaluating their preseason picks and taking another shot. I’ll stick with mine and accept my failures as what they are.
I was almost certainly wrong about Drew Brees winning the MVP award and the Saints winning their division. Justin Blackmon has zero chance of winning top rookie honors, and the Cardinals and Vikings are both much better than I predicted. These picks are all off the board for me and I can only go down from here. Everything else is still in play for the time being, but Dallas and Detroit are almost certain to let me down in the next four weeks. I still feel good about my San Fran and New England Super Bowl, but time will tell.
On a serious note, sometimes things in life happen that remind us football isn’t the most important thing in the world, and the news this week of Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano’s diagnosis of leukemia brings that point home in a big way. If you are a person of faith, please keep Chuck and his family in prayer. He coaches football, but that’s not what he is; he is a husband, a father, and a grandfather, and we wish him and his family well.
About the Author
Written by Steve Massey
Steve Massey is the author of Grid Iron Audible at @prosportsblogging.com, a weekly column covering all things NFL related. He is originally from California, but now resides in Northern Arkansas with his beautiful wife and best friend, Debbie. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMassey9