NFL midseason; injuries and warm seats


The NFL season is at its halfway point. This year has been a season of surprises, disappointments, and a whole lot of injuries. With those disappointments comes some very warm seats in the coaching carousel. There have also been some wide ranging speculations about player safety and how those rules/fines should enforced.

This season has not lacked drama, though. There has been mutiny in Tampa Bay after Coach Greg Schiano and former quarterback Josh Freeman butted heads. There have been reports of bullying in the locker room of the Miami Dolphins.  That has resulted in a player (Jonathon Martin) leaving the team and another player (Richie Incognito) being suspended indefinitely. Dez Bryant recently went insane on the sideline of a Cowboys loss to the Detroit Lions.

Then there was Peyton Manning. He has been nothing short of brilliant in the first nine weeks of the season. He threw for a record number of touchdowns in their opening win. His team is 7-1 at the mid point of this season. That one loss coming in a memorable fashion. Peyton’ s return to Indy was some what bittersweet for both parties. A few days before the former Indy great returned Colts owner made less than grateful comments to USA today. Irsay basically said that Peyton did not do enough during his time in Indianapolis. He even said that he picked Andrew Luck because he wanted to win more Super Bowls. The situation got even more toxic when there were reports that said Peyton Manning wasn’t answering Jim Irsay’s phone calls and did not intend to call him back. Irsay would get the last laugh as the Colts rode Andrew Luck and used key Denver turnovers to defeat the Indy legend.

The lone undefeated team is the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s safe to say that the ’72 Dolphins will remain the only undefeated team in NFL history. The Chiefs schedule gets much tougher the second half of the year; including two games left against division rival Denver. But that doesn’t mean they can’t run the table. That Chiefs defense is among the best in the league.

Here are the awards for the first half of the season.

MVP: Peyton Manning

Nobody has been better that number 18. He is simply the best of all time. Manning leads the NFL in passing yards and has the best passer rating in the league. Peyton Manning has proved time and time.

Defensive player of the year:  Mario Williams (Bills DE)

Mario Williams has been fantastic this season. The Bills have had their fair share of injuries, but that defense—led by Williams—-is the main reason why they are where they are at. Williams has been keeping the Bills in games. His 11 sacks is tied for second in the league and he is just a half sack behind the Colts Robert Mathis for the league lead. Williams has been key in victories over Baltimore, Miami, and Carolina. They may not have many wins, but it is not because of Williams.

Offensive rookie of the year: Giovanni Bernard (Bengals RB)

Gio Bernard has quickly become one of the NFL’s most exciting players. He fits the mold of a Darren Sproles that can score any time he touches the football. Bernard has as many highlight plays as anybody in the league right now. He may have only 361 yards on the ground, but he is averaging 4.5 yards a carry with four touchdowns. He also has 30 receptions through the air and two touchdowns. Everybody in the Queen City should be excited about Giovonni Bernard.

Defensive rookie of the year: Sheldon Richardson ( Jets DT)

Rex Ryan continues to be the best defensive coach in the league. He has once again made a rookie into a star on his defensive line. The Jets have one of the best defenses in the league. A large of the credit should go to their rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Richardson, a first round pick out of Missouri, is just eating offensive lineman and blockers up in the middle. If you are going to play a 3-4 defense then you need a monster like Richardson in the middle. He just takes up space to allow his linebackers to go untouched in the gaps to make the tackles. His presence alone has allowed the Jets to be one of the best run-stopping teams in the league. He has 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks, and for a nose tackle that is extremely good.

Coach of the year:  Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs head coach)

Andy Reid has taken the Chiefs from worst to first. A year after going 2-14 and having the number one overall pick the Chiefs are unbeaten. A full 360 for a franchise that had endured so much last year. They had to deal with a teammate killing himself in their parking lot, their QB getting injured, and their coach being a lame-duck. Reid has made key additions such as cornerback Sean Smith, wide receiver Donnie Avery, and quarterback Alex Smith. That team believes in him right now, something he could not get his team in Philadelphia to do the 2 years prior. Only time will tell how far Andy Reid will take the Chiefs this year.

Coaches on the Hot seat:

1)  Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay)

It almost came to mutiny for a winless Bucs team. The Freeman situation, MRSA going around in the locker room, and their star players not exactly liking him have Schiano all but gone in Tampa.

2)  Mike Smith (Falcons)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen in Atlanta. The disappointing Falcons were already underachieving when Julio Jones went down. This was supposed to be the year the Falcons got over the hump when they brought in seasoned veterans Stephen Jackson and Osi Umeminyora. Now, the Falcons could be looking to blow up a team that was always not-good-enough.

3)  Gary Kubiak (Texans)

Like the Falcons, the Texans were supposed to take the next step. They added rookie DeAndre Hopkins in the first round to bolster the receiving corps and signed future hall of famer Ed Reed. Instead, Matt Schaub took a big step back and even got benched. Kubiak looks like a dead man walking right now in Houston.

4)  Tom Coughlin (Giants)

The Giants are just all around bad. The players have tuned Coughlin out and it doesn’t look there will be another Super Bowl run to save his job. It may be gracefully (him “stepping down”), but this looks like Coughlin’s last season in the Meadowlands.

5)   Leslie Frazier (Vikings)

The 1-7 Vikings are as bad as any team in the league not named Jacksonville. Just a year after making the playoffs, the Vikes should be looking to make a change. Expect a new coach and quarterback in Minnesota next season.

Biggest disappointment: Atlanta Falcons

The least the Falcons could have done was trade future hall of fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. After Gonzalez announced his retirement at the end of last season, the Falcons convinced him that they one more run in them. That was not the case. Eight games into the season they are 2-6 with their best playmaker hurt. In a Super Bowl-or-bust season, the Falcons completely flopped which shouldn’t be that surprising.

Biggest surprise: Kansas City Chiefs

I have already talked a ton about the Chiefs, but they caught everybody off guard. Nobody had them at 8-0 with a one game lead over Denver at the halfway point. That defense has been among the best in the league and Alex Smith is playing some good ball right now.  We’ll see what happens in the second half.

Team on the rise in the second half: Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo is quietly putting together a great season. The defense is only going to get better under Monte Kiffin. Plus, DeMarcus Ware, Demarco Murray, and others will be back eventually for the ‘boys.

Team on the decline in the second half: Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is hurt. James Jones is hurt. Randall Cobb is hurt. Clay Matthews is hurt. Jermichael Finley is hurt. Those are not good things for the Packers. Without Aaron Rodgers the Packers roster looks extremely average at best. The Division is slipping away from them as they are now tied for the lead with Detroit and Chicago.

Second half Super bowl pick: Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos