Mid Season Awards
November 2 2002
By Trevor and SuperZim of 49ers Paradise
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Zim -- This one is always hard to pick because of how many factors are involved in it, but my pick would have to be Brett Fav-ruh. This cat has played nothing short of God-ly this season and he has the Pack sitting atop the NFC Central (and on a 5 game winnng streak). With him being at an age where QBs start to take Mark Rypien-like career tumbles, Fav-ruh is looking like a 23yr old out there.
Trev - I will make this pick until the day he retires. Donovan McNabb simply IS the Philadelphia Eagles. Favre is a man among boys, and I’m a fan of his, but simply put, without McNabb the Eagles are not a Super Bowl contender.
Offensive Player of the Year -
Trev - This one’s a toughie to give out, because this has been the Year of the Offense in the NFL (not to be ignored is the fact that this is an expansion year, but I digress). But when it’s all said and done, the offensive player who has stood head-and-shoulders above the rest is none other than Kansas City’s Priest Holmes. For all you stat junkies out there (I am your leader!), the man leads the NFL in rushing, is second among runningbacks in receving yards, leads in total yardage, and has scored 1/3 more touchdowns (15) than his nearest competition, Travis Henry (10). He’s the best runningback in the NFL, and the best offensive player of the first half.
Zim - Amen to this one bro. Priest Homes is scoring more than John Holmes in his Vivid Video prime. Running, catching, it don’t matter. Priest is taking everything to the house. Good call on this one Trev.
Defensive Player of the Year
Zim - I gotta go with Derrick Brooks here. He is spearheading that Bucs D and is having a monster year doing so. Besides, 4 defensive TDs so far this year? That’s money.
Trev - I’m with Zim on this one. Brooks has more touchdowns than Michael Pittman, Keenan McCardell and Keyshawn Johnson do. Just amazing.
Coach of the Year
Trev - Jim Haslett has taken a N’Awlins Saints team with a completely different
identity than they had a year ago and made them into the class of the NFC. Their defense is
porous, which you know drives him insane, but he's wise enough to assess his team's strengths
and play to them. The result? A coach who loves grinding it out on offense and clamping down
on defense is piloting a squad that throws the ball all around the arena and is a sieve on D. And
he's winning. Masterful.
Zim B Sorry man, Haslett isn’t as good a coach as everyone tells him he is. The best coach in the NFL over the 1st half of the season has to be Gregg Williams (by the way, why two Gs?). That Buffalo team was horrendous last year, and this year Williams has them believing in themselves, and I guess a guy named Bledsoe is helping a little too.
I sooo wanted to give this award to Mike Martz, just for a good laughY would any of you objected to that? I didn't think so.
Comeback Player of the Year
Zim - Although it pains me to do this, I have to give Tommy Maddu“XFL” the nod here. He is looking feisty these days and has made a lot of Steelers' fans forget about Kordell and his ProBowl season last year.
Trev - No way, dude. The fact that Robert Edwards is even WALKING makes him comeback player of the year. But a spot on the Dolphins' roster and the primary backup to Ricky Williams? On par with Garrison Hearst's comeback.
Rookie of the Year
Zim - No question here. Giving it to Julius Peppers. 9 sacks halfway through? As a rook? This kid is a great talent and I damn near gave him the nod for D player of the year. Hope he doesn't hit the rookie wall though.
Trev - Amen. I mean on one hand, who else could you pick, Rocky Bernard? But Peppers has stepped in and had more immediate impact on his teams' fortune than any rookie since Randy Moss in '98. He's already amazing, and he's only going to get better.
NFL Injury of the Year
Zim - Have to go with Brett Fav-ruh here. Although this one was not serious, it sure looked that way. The way his knee got all tangled up like that made me gasp in horror. Its not often I do that, but his leg was more twisted than a pretzel. Sick.
Trev - I didn't see the Favre injury, but let me tell you what, if Ray Lewis is out for the year as is feared, that's a killer. Lewis has been holding the Ravens' paper-thin defense up to a middle-of-the pack rating, but without him, Baltimore's defense will just go down the crapper. He's still the best defensive player in the NFL.
NFL Best Offensive Team
Zim - Offensive balance is the key here folks. Just cause you can toss for 3 bills every game doesn't mean you have the best offense. You gotta be able to scamper with the pill as well. The nod thus far goes to KC. Priest is looking Godly (oh! Thank you, I'll be here all week!) this season and “the Son Vermeil never had” Trent Green is looking great as well. Now only if they could prevent team from scoring as much as they do.
Trev - I have to note that if this was the NFL “most offensive team” my picks would be a lot different. This was a three team race in my head, and for the first time in four years, none of the teams in question were the Rams. And happy as that makes me, this is still a tough damn pick. And while it was tempting to say N'Awlins, in the end I'm all about the Bills. Drew Bledsoe is, as I mentioned, tearing up the league, AND Travis Henry is 5th in the NFL in rushing yardage, not to mention 2nd in Tds. The line aint bad either. They can't stop anyone (a hallmark of great offensive teams in today's NFL), but they can put up points with the best of 'em.
NFL Best Defensive Team
Trev - Another easy one. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been stopping opponents at a rate that is just plain and simple frightening to watch. They lead the NFL in scoring defense, total defense, defensive touchdowns, and offensive coordinators screamed at the morning after playing them. Jon Gruden has infused these Bucs with a new attitude, and holy crap are they good.
Zim Bucs all the way here. They got Sapp pushin through the middle and wreaking havoc with QBs. They got Derrick Brooks patrolling the middle and jumping on loose balls everywhere. The got Ronde Barber as their money corner. They got John Lynch AMob@ in the back making receivers pay when they come over the middle. They got all the pieces and are really clicking at this point.
Trev- Oh, gee, let me think here. Ooh, hold on. Let me take a reeeeal hard think on this one.
Oh, I know, Drew Bledsoe. Not to make a mockery of the award, but the man is on pace to
throw for 5,000 yards this season. Here, let me repeat that. DREW BLEDSOE IS ON PACE
TO THROW FOR FIVE THOUSAND YARDS THIS YEAR. Most QB s aspire to throw for
THREE thousand. Five grand, by the by, would shatter Dandy Dan Marino’s single-season NFL
record for passing yards. Bledsoe has completely revolutionized Buffalo’s offense and he’s the
class of the NFL this year.
Zim Good call on this one, and up until last Sunday I would have agreed with you. That is until I stumbled upon Rich ALoose Gannon’s stats so far this season. This geriatric is on pace to throw for 5449yds and has eclipsed 330yds in each of his last 5 games. Although Bledsoe is having a monster year, Gannon is outplaying him up to this point.
And by the way, if Bledsoe hits the 5 large mark this season, he would fall JUST short of Dapper Dan’s record, which sits at 5084 if I’m not mistaken. Gannon is the one who is one pace to shatter that record.
Trev - Well I already awarded Offensive Player honors to Holmes, and it just
wouldn't be right to repeat it. So with that in mind, come on down, Deuce McAllister! If
Holmes isn't the NFL’s best answer to the now-defunct Marshall Faulk, Deuce is. The man has
spearheaded N’Awlins’ offensive turnaround, and has done it in emphatic fashion. He’s second in
the NFL in rushing, fifth in rushing touchdowns, and first in pretty plays made. The man is the
NFL’s next star back, and already one of its best.
Zim I agree we can’t give another award to Priest, so I will have to give the nod to LaDanian Tomlinson here. Priest may be leading the league right now, but Tomlinson is close behind both him and Deuce, and he has only played 7 games. Tomlinson is on pace to gain more yardage than Holmes, and I think that as the season winds down, and games become more and more important, we will see Tomlinson play an even bigger role in the Chargers offense.
Trev - Bledsoe has made Eric Moulds and Peerless Price into the NFL’s two most productive
wideouts, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the best in the league. And though Joe Horn
and Marvin Harrison are having characteristically good years, the man who most deserves this
award is none other than my man Terrell Owens.
“What?” you might say, “Owens has been off his game all year!”
Well, yes and no, dear reader. Owens has received some of the Barry Bonds treatment this year,
which is appropriate, since both are Bay Area superstars. Like teams walked Bonds constantly
this year, so have defenses constantly double-teamed Owens this year. Owens is a touchdown
waiting to happen, just as Bonds is a homer waiting to happen. But Bonds wasn’t his most
effective until the guys around him started producing, and Owens was slowed until the 49ers
found a threat opposite him. Now that Tai Streets is producing, Owens is back to his high-
scoring, showboating ways. Now, can Owens follow Bonds and lead his team to a chance at a
ring? Time will tell.
Zim - I have to go with Moulds here. He is playing so awesome right now, and he genuinely looks happier now that two guys named Flutie and Johnson are gone from Buffalo. This is the standard that Moulds has established (with the exception of last year), and I must say that the play of Price has given him more room to roam this season as well.
By the way, I will never give this award to Marvin Harrison. He is good and he is fast, but have you ever seen a WR who is easier to tackle? I mean, you run past the guy too fast and he will tip over. He and Isaac Bruce are the easiest guys in the NFL to take down, by far.
Zim - Shannon Sharpe. This dude is still running away from DBs at 34. He gets the nod over NBA wannabe Tony Gonzalez and Baltimore super-rook Todd Heap.
Trev - Um, Heap aint a rook. And besides, Gonzo still gives D-coordinators the biggest headaches. He's second only to Holmes in importance to this Chiefs team.
Trev - This is an award I hate giving out, just because it’s so subjective, and there are no stats
to even aid in making the decision. But in a league where very very few offensive linemen stand
out, one stat that I was able to dig up tells the story.
The Arizona Cardinals have the NFL‘s 10th best rushing offense.
I know, a team whose top two backs are undrafted rookie Marcel Shipp and colossal first round
bust Thomas Jones actually ranks in the top ten among NFL rushing offenses? Credit it all to the Cardinals’ line, especially Leonard Davis, last year’s super rookie who has come into his own to spearhead a Cardinals rushing attack that doesn’t deserve to be that highly rated.
Zim - No way man, when I consider good O-lines I take into account both the rushing attack and the amount of sacks given up. That is why I have to give this one to the Niners. The Niners boast the 3rd best rushing attack in the league and have only allowed Garcia to be sacked like 7 times.
All that with a rook at LG and a newly added FA at RG. Not bad, not bad at all.
Zim - Can I give that too Brooks as well? No? Ok then, let's go with Urlacher. If this guy isn't the model of what a 'backer should look like and how a 'backer should play, I don't know who would be. Butkus of this generation, only faster.
Trev - I'm giving it to Brooks, moratorium on mulitple awards be damned! Ray Lewis has been fighting a one-man battle all year and might be gone for the season anyways. And great as Urlacher is, this is Derrick Brooks' year. These are the kinds of performances that earn you a seat in Canton.
Trev - Last year was a huge year for interceptions, but this one has been relatively slow.
Offenses are exposing teams’ lack of depth in secondaries rather than attacking their superstars.
So who’s the best of the best then? The guy teams are least willing to attack? Here’s a hint: his
name is Sam Madison.
In seven games, Madison has been thrown at, by unofficial count, twelve times. He has two
interceptions. He’s been a shutdown corner his entire career, but this year he’s truly established
himself as a man among boys and shut down one whole side of the field for the Dolphins.
Zim - I don’t like Madison. You know why? He wears one of those ugly new-look helmets. The DB I like so far this year is Sammy Knight of the New Orleans Saints. This guy is always around the ball, he gets timely picks, and makes a lot of tackles. He is their big play guy on their defense, and he gets the nod here.
Zim - Anyone who knows me knows that I hate kickers. I hate that they play such a big role in the game and aren't even forced to wear shoulder pads or have real facemasks on their helmets. Why would anyone want such a huge space between the top of their face opening and the top of the facemask itself? You are just asking for a fist or foot to get through there. Friggin kickers.
What? Oh yeah, back on topic. Sorry Trev. Best kicker I hate the least so far this year? Mike Vanderjagt. Kid is money from 40 and in and actually LOOKS like a football player.
Trev - No apologies needed my friend, I'm similarly perplexed. I'll go with Adam Vinatieri. After the Super Bowl, no other kicker will ever come as close to earning an iota of actual genuine respect in my book as Vinatieri has. Ice water in his veins.
Rich Jenson Disappointment of the Year Award
Trev - This one’s handed out to the guy who fails to meet expectations in the worst humanly possible way. And there's been no bigger goat in the NFL this year than Kordell Stewart. A year after finishing third in NFL MVP voting, the aliens stole back the solid NFL quarterback they replaced Stewart with, and he returned to his typical standard of production, compiling 5 INTs and but 3 Tds in three games of starting action for a whopping 66.2 QB rating and getting for benched for Tommy AWow, I actually have a football career!@ Maddox. Pathetic.
Zim - Maybe we should given Kordell the “Wham! One Hit Wonder Award“, but I totally agree with you here. Kordell has been so pathetic this year, his play is making Tommy Maddu”XFL” look like friggin Terry Bradshaw in Steeltown. Has anyone even HEARD Kordell's name since he got benched? I think Kordell has fallen so far down that proverbial totem pole, he is underground.
49ers Offensive MVP
Zim - At this point its hard NOT to give it to Jeff Garcia. He is the lynch pin of this squad, and although his numbers have dropped this year a bit, he is still the most important player on the field when the Niners have the ball.
Trev - I'm all over the Garcia pick. And while Jeff's numbers have been down, his tenacity has been way way up. He's performed very well in the big games and has only gotten better as the year has progressed. He looks like a genuine big-time NFL quarterback back there, no matter what naysaying 49ers “fans” might say.
49ers Defensive MVP
Trev - It was a two man race for this one, but in the end, I have to tip my hat to
Andre Carter. Ahmed Plummer has looked a bit more flappable this year than last, while Carter
has exploded. He’s currently tied for 8th in the NFL in sacks with 6.0 (his total from all of last
year) and has had his biggest games against the best competition, sticking Pro Bowler Chris
Samuels for 2 sacks and also beating Walter Jones for a sack. He’s resurrected the once anemic
Niner pass rush and freed things up for his linemates. A bona fide star.
Zim Good call here Trev, Carter is the man so far. He is showing everyone why the Niners took him so high, and I am loving every minute of it. It has been so long since the Niners had a bona fide pass rusher, and as Carter grows and becomes more experienced, he will become even more effective. I can see him becoming a great all around player, with his athleticism, he is a guy who can be left on the field during running downs and passing downs, and probably even pass coverage in a zone blitzing scheme.
49ers Best Single Game Individual Performance
Zim - I have to go with TO in this last win over the Cards. 8 grabs for 132 and 2 scores? Nice work. Besides, that long TD run he made when it looked like it would only be a 7yd gain was vintage TO.
Trev - Mine comes from the same game, but a different player. Garcia matched a career high with 4 TD passes in Week 8's key divisional matchup with the Cardinals. He was effective escaping the pass rush, he made the defense respect his mobility, and he got it to the receivers in places they could make plays. His only mistake was an underthrow to Tai Streets that would have been a 72-yard TD. Masterful.
49ers Worst Single Game Individual Performance
Trev - Easy. Jason Webster was absolutely torched by Amani Toomer to the tune of 134 receiving yards in the nationally televised season opener. Webster had to have his uniform fire extinguisher-ed after the game, he got burned so bad. Now Webster has since bounced back to put together another solid season, but that opening game hurt to WATCH.
Zim I have to go with the entire defensive secondary in the Saints loss. This unit got torched by Joe Horn and Aaron Brooks, and looked pitiful on 3rd down (a reoccurring theme actually). When I watched that game, I was horrified at the play of that unit. Brutal.
49ers Biggest Surprise
Zim - Jamie Winborn. The Official Trevor's Corner Mascot has only played two games this year, but when he did, he was dominant. Few of us who closely follow the Niners were all that surprised with this one, but the rest of the league didn't see “Forged Steel” coming till his helmet was firmly planted between their numbers.
Trev - Winborn is a very solid pick, but we here at Trevor's Corner knew it was coming all along. No, my pick for this one is Eric Heitmann. A seventh round pick with a chronically bad back has actually played better than the man he replaced, Dave Fiore. Next year he'll force an interesting battle at both guard positions as he pushes for more playing time. This year he's just playing very very well.
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