Grid Iron Audible—Home Stretch Awards
After thirteen weeks of football, there are few surprises left; the average NFL fan can look at the sports page and know what he’s seeing. He can tell the difference between a contender and a pretender and pick the games with the analysts. He knows which coaches are destined to be removed, which G.M.’s should be shown the door, and who he thinks will take home the Lombardi Trophy this winter.
What he doesn’t know is who will win the Audible Awards for the 2012 season. There are a few clear cut choices, but some of the races; Best Quarterback, for instance, and Best Rookie, are far from decided. Some races have taken on new leaders, while others are becoming convoluted with new contenders. Without further ado, the leaders at the home stretch.
MVP: Tom Brady
The stat line says it all; 25 touchdown to 4 interceptions. He simply doesn’t turn the ball over; this is nothing new either, he’s played this well since the beginning of the 2010 season, with 100 touchdowns to 20 picks through Sunday, the best ratio in football. Brady has passed Peyton Manning in the last quarter, and Aaron Rodgers has played himself into the contest, making it a three horse race to the finish line.
Best Offensive Player: Robert Griffin III
This one’s going to shock a few of my readers. RG3 leads this because he is a hard nightmare for defensive coordinators to game plan. He has of late become a night terror for them, leading his team to 3 straight wins in the division, and into post season conversation. His unique blend of style and speed may well change the game. Griffin runs neck and neck here with the three aforementioned quarterbacks, Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson.
Best Defensive Player: Von Miller
I was prepared to hand this Award over to Tim Jennings for most of the year, but I can no longer ignore the season that Von Miller has put together. He may be the most disruptive player in the game today, and I would be surprised to see his lead here slip away. Miller leads Jennings, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith, and Daryl Washington by a head.
Best Rookie: Robert Griffin III
This one looks as if it may end in a photo finish. Andrew Luck is running with RGIII, as are Doug Martin and Alfred Morris. A huge game by any of these guys could dictate the outcome of this one, but all are in it for now.
Best Quarterback: Too Close to Call
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are the only serious candidates, though Alex Smith certainly was on pace to be in the running before his demotion. If the season ended today, I might give the trophy to Rodgers, but I couldn’t say exactly why. Maybe someone will stumble on the way in.
Best Running Back: Adrian Peterson
ACL, MCL; it’s all TCB for A.D. If he sat out the rest of the season, there is still a chance that Adrian would win the rushing crown. It is really a pleasure to watch this man run with the football. I haven’t seen this kind of dominance at the position since Eric Dickerson was at his best. He is punishing defenders on blasts up the middle, breaking ankles in the open field and turning on the jets when he needs them. With a 300 plus yard lead, he is leaving plenty of dust to settle on Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, Stevan Ridley and Marshawn Lynch.
Best Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson
Megatron is the leader here because he makes me wonder what could have been if Matt Stafford had played as well as him all year. He’s chasing Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards, and making a lot of grabs where it hurts, over the middle. He’s impossible to defend, but others are also in this race; Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas are all a half-length back, while Wes Welker, Dez Bryant, and early leader Victor Cruz are a length behind.
Best Tight End: Tony Gonzalez
Even though Jason Witten has 15 more grabs, Tony is still the lead horse at tight end. He’s been as consistent this season as he has for most of his career. He has competition though, as Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have established themselves as favorites at this position, with Witten, and newcomer Brandon Myers also in the mix. If no one steps up in the next four weeks, then Gonzo wins the inaugural award, which may be fitting. Maybe I should name the award after him. We’ll find out in the winner’s circle.
Best Pass Rusher: Von Miller
This is a three horse race with Miller leading Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt by the edge of his nose. Everyone else is too far back to have a chance, and five forced fumbles are what has provided him with the current lead. All three of these players are only a great game away from pulling away, but the finish is getting closer.
Best Linebacker: Chad Greenway
Chad’s numbers look a lot like those of NaVorro Bowman, but with 15 more tackles, and I didn’t want to leave him on the list of contenders all season long. If the season was over, I’d give it to him, but it’s crowded in the front with Bowman, Jerod Mayo, Daryl Washington, Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard all sprinting toward the finish.
Best Pass Defender: Tim Jennings
Jennings still has a sizable lead in this race, and barring injury and a big push by someone else, it’s his to lose. He’s been a catalyst for the Bears D, with 8 picks, a touchdown and 27 passes defended. Those who find themselves still technically in the race are Richard Sherman, Casey Hayward and Janoris Jenkins.
We’ve seen most of what the league offers thus far, and I feel a little melancholy about knowing that the race is almost over. But still, the last mad sprint to the finish is where all the fun twists and turns appear, bumps lead to jumps, and heroes are made. The best races are always the ones where the jockey’s face is mud-splattered; wire to wire winners are so passé. In some corners of the world horse racing is considered the sport of kings, but in my world, football is the king of sports.
Photo Credit(s): kentuckyderby.com
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