So it has come to this: We’re at the halfway mark, and that means it’s time for our turn to award some superlatives to the guardians of the gridiron! So without further ado…
NFC MVP: Matt Ryan, with Aaron Rodgers running close behind him
For all you readers out there, you have NO idea how much it pains me to write this paragraph. However, here at Jivehour we can’t be haters all the time, and it is really hard to argue with Ryan’s performance up to this point in the season. Yes, I will argue that the Falcons are still not ready for postseason success until I’m blue in the face. But I won’t deprive Ryan of his justly earned rewards up to this point in the season.
NFC Alt-MVP: Charles Tillman, with Patrick Willis not far behind
We gotta give a little love to the defensive side of the game, since MVP awards almost always go to the sissies on offense (please don’t kill me, Steve Smith). It’s hard for me to give defensive backs as much credit as they routinely get, considering all the factors that are at play in regards to the performance of a secondary (it’s like giving receivers an MVP award). But having watched the Bears more this year than I can ever remember doing in recent history, it’s hard not to trace this unit’s performance back to Peanut and his uncanny ability to not only be in the right place at the right time, but force plays when they need to be made. We’ll see how they hold up down the stretch, but don’t expect Tillman or the Bears D to let up anytime soon (how can they, given that it’s impossible to tell which Bears offense will show up on a weekly basis)!
NFC Offensive Rookie: Robert Griffin III, and it’s not even close
One could make a decent argument for Griffin’s teammate Alfred Morris, but he hasn’t been seeing the type of holes that were open in the early weeks of the season. The “Musclehamster” could also catapult his way into play by the end of the season, but as of right now there’s no real argument who the NFC offensive rookie (and by extension, all around rookie for the NFC) is at the halfway point. Although he could stand to learn the art of sliding (unless he wants to follow in Mike Vick’s shoes and be perpetually injured), Griffin has continued to carry over his progress as a passer from his Baylor days, and is looking like the franchise quarterback that Washington has been lacking for going on two decades now.
NFC Defensive Rookie: Luke Kuechly, with some stiff competition from Casey Hayward and Lavonte David
This one is a much harder pick to make at this point, given the amount of defensive rookies who are making an impact league wide this year. Hayward is certainly showing an eye for the ball up north in Green Bay, and David is showing why many draft gurus considered him one of the steals of the draft at the linebacker position in Tampa Bay. However, it’s not just my homer goggles that are giving Kuechly the nod at this juncture. As of this week, Kuechly is now third in the league in tackles, and after shaking off the rookie jitters his first two weeks has looked every bit the monster he was at Boston College. He has shown an instinct for the ball that few linebackers in the league possess, and if he keeps it up he could quickly join the ranks of the elite linebackers in the league.
NFC Team of the Half Season: Atlanta Falcons, although Green Bay is nipping at their heels
Forgive me for excluding the Bears and their insane defense, but it’s hard to believe the Bears are playing their best football when the offense is as inconsistent as it has been up to this point. That may change, but for now we’re going to hate on their 7-1 record. Same goes for San Francisco, although again we could end up being very wrong by season’s end given their turnover-free ways and lights out defense. I, for one, absolutely hate the Falcons, and am convinced that they are going to lose their first playoff game (again). But good teams find a way to win games, even in the ugliest of fashions, and at 8-0 they’ve done it better than the teams mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. Their offense has been clicking on all cylinders, and although their defense leaves much to be desired it has been coming through when they’ve needed it. As Jiver Joe pointed out in this week’s cast though, keep an eye out for the surging Packers, who have seemed to rebound from their surprise loss to the Colts earlier on and are starting to look very similar to the 2010 squad that won it all.
Jive Turkey’s of the First Half: Philadelphia Eagles, and it’s no contest
The records say my Carolina Panthers should be sitting here, but anyone who has watched them over the past five weeks knows that they are more unlucky than anything else. They’ve lost four of their games by a combined 12 points, with three of those games against Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago. Maybe Ron Rivera ran over a gypsy’s wife in the offseason near north Tryon and the husband has put a curse on the team in the final five minutes of games, but regardless they’ve played well enough to at least be 4-4. Philadelphia, on the other hand, seems to have blown their luck wad in the first four games of the season and is now in a complete freefall. What a precipitous drop it has been for the self anointed “Dream Team”, as anyone who has watched them play this year could tell you they are lucky to have won the three games they did manage to pull out. Vick is looking like a shell of the player that earned a $100 million extension after the 2009 season, and with Castillo already fired there are no other obvious scapegoats left on the coaching staff to explain the defense’s utter lack of resistance in recent weeks. Throw in a fan base that is historically as obnoxious as it is rowdy, and what you are left with is the NFC’s Jive Turkey’s of the first half!
Stay tuned tomorrow as we unveil our AFC midseason awards. Meanwhile, here’s Carl and his “Stone Cold Lock of the Century…of the Week!”
Dallas vs Philadelphia