>By Nick Gallaudet
Well, the 2010 NFL season is in the books. If you want postseason predictions, you’ve come to the wrong place. All of that good stuff was covered by my esteemed colleague, Will, yesterday. This is a season recap with the special TSL Regular Season Awards. Since us as TSL have no vote for the NFL awards, I’m not going to waste our time or yours going over boring awards like MVP and Rookie of the Year. These awards are much more prestigious. Without further ado, let’s light this candle.
The Purple Drank Award (formerly known as the JaMarcus Russell Award)
This award is given to the former number one overall pick that has underwhelmed everyone and is inexplicably still given a chance to play in the NFL.
And the Winner is… QB Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
This race was closer than it may have initially seemed. Cincinnati Bengals QB and former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer bested Smith by only .3 in QB rating, and doubled him up in interceptions. The fact that Palmer played the whole season, and, at times, looked like he knew how to play football at least a little took him out of the running. I was disappointed when I heard that the Raiders had traded for QB Jason Campbell, because that meant that I wasn’t going to be treated to watching JaMarcus missing wide open wide receivers by yards, but fortunately, Smith picked up the slack. I don’t think I’ll ever see another season like Russell’s 2009 season (three touchdowns, 11 Interceptions in 12 games) but Smith tried. It is unbelievable to me that Smith keeps getting opportunities. With 51 career touchdowns vs. 53 interceptions, it is clear he is not an NFL quality QB and Mike Singletary’s inability to see that cost him his job.
The Bad “LUCK” Award
This award is given to the player who is doomed to a career as a backup for two reasons. 1) He’s not that good, and 2) his team is about to draft Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
And the Winner is… a tie! QBs Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers
Matt Moore, as much as it pains me to say, as a former Oregon State Beaver myself, can’t cut it in the NFL. He is certainly capable of having decent games, but if you’re counting on him to get your team into the playoffs, you’re going to have a lot of free time in January. Clausen wasn’t much better. The rookie from Notre Dame stumbled to an NFL worst 58.4 QB rating, while throwing for three Touchdowns and nine Interceptions. With the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Panthers have to take Luck (if he comes out), because I don’t care if it was Clausen’s rookie year, he didn’t show me anything.
The Fantasy Murderer Award
This award is given to the player that killed the most fantasy rosters throughout the season.
And the Winner is… WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots/Minnesota Vikings/Tennessee Titans.
Moss beat out the likes of Packers RB Ryan Grant and Ravens RB Ray Rice for this dubious honor. Grant was injured for the season in the season opener, devastating owners that took him in the second round in two different drafts (like me). Rice decided not to show up until the playoffs, but only after he made sure his owners didn’t make them (like Evan). Moss takes the top honor, because not only did he drastically underperform (393 receiving yards and five touchdowns) he forced owners to use up a roster spot the whole season as they held out hope he would get his head on straight and be what he once was. Moss was a total fantasy tease and didn’t care if he cost you $50 in your office league.
The Double-Take Award
This award is given to the mediocre player that had a career year and ended up leading the league in a major category
And the Winner is… WR Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos
Brandon Lloyd led the NFL with 1448 receiving yards, edging out Falcons WR Roddy White by almost 60 yards, while also tallying 11 touchdowns. Lloyd’s previous career highs in each category were 733 yards and six touchdowns, coming in 2005 and 2004 respectively. Lloyd took advantage of QB Kyle Orton’s hot start and while he slowed after the week nine bye and the eventual loss of Orton, he still managed decent production.
The Chuck Norris Award
This award is given to the football player who is simply more of a man than any other player out there.
And the Winner is… LB Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
Matthews’ golden locks were flowing all season as he tormented quarterbacks to the tune of 13.5 sacks. Matthews started the season on a rampage totaling six sacks in the first two games of the season. Tack on a pick-six and going sleeveless in frigid Wisconsin weather, Matthews showed the NFL how big boys play.
The White Knight on a Heroic Steed Award
This award is given to the player that came to the rescue halfway through the season.
And the Winner is… S Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
Reed was shelved due to injury for the first six games of the season, but came storming onto the scene tallying eight interceptions in the final ten games to lead the league… for the season. That’s right, in ten games, Ed Reed had more interceptions than any other player in the league had in 16 games. His incredible return kick started a sputtering Ravens defense and led second half-defensive resurgence and a playoff berth for the Ravens.
The Bill Plaschke Overreaction Award
This award goes to the player or story from this season that was completely overreacted to by both fans and the media.
And the Winner is… Peyton Manning’s downfall
The Indianapolis Colts QB had to endure and entire season of questions about whether or not he is slipping. There is no denying that Manning had the worst turnover stretch of his career. The stats don’t lie as Manning piled up 11 interceptions in three consecutive games. However, having watched 90% of the Colts’ snaps this season, I can assure you, Mr. Manning is not done breaking records. Most of those 11 interceptions were a result of poor timing or chemistry with his oft-injured wide receiving corps. Manning’s game is predicated on timing and with the incredible number of injuries the Colts sustained this season, it clearly took a toll on Manning’s turnovers. Manning only threw three interceptions in the other 13 games, and compiled 4,700 yards passing and 33 touchdowns, good for second in the league in both categories. The bottom line is that the Colts are going to win the Super Bowl.
Special Note: I just wanted to do a follow up to my Madden Curse article. New Orleans QB Drew Brees, this year’s cover boy, finished second in the league with 22 interceptions – a career high. Brees also tied a career high with nine fumbles. Other than that, Brees had a pretty good year, leading his team to the playoffs, but there is still a chance for the Curse to rear its ugly head as the Sainterceptions travel to Seattle for their first-round playoff game.