Doug Baker’s 2009 NFL Midseason Awards

Now it’s time for me to present the midseason awards. I am sure every player has been anxiously waiting to see if they end up on my list and where.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

I know there will be a lot of grousing and second guessing from my distinguished fellow football fans on this one. I’ve already heard carping about my picking Manning over Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints, as Offensive Player of the Year on my Midseason All Pro Team. But really, you could flip a coin between the two for this award. They are both having great seasons.

My main reason for choosing Manning is I think he has had a slightly better season and has lead a slightly less talented team than the Saints to a 6-0 record. Brees has chunked up some interceptions and almost lost against the Dolphins. While Manning struggled a bit against the 49’ers last week, his game against Miami scoring 27 points with less than 15 minutes of possession left me a little mesmerized.

Drew Brees and Chris Johnson were in the running.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

Right now Jared Allen is the best defensive player in the league and is absolutely a beast. He’s almost unblockable one-on-one and sometimes even when he is double or tripled teamed. He has a motor that never stops and he never quits on a play. He has owned Green Bay this year as much as Brett Favre has.

Other players in the running included Darren Sharper, FS, New Orleans Saints who leads the league in interceptions on a much improved Saints offense.

Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Denver Broncos leads the AFC in sacks with 10 and has been a key reason, along with SS Brian Dawkins, for Denver’s turnaround on defense.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE: Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

While he walks, talks, acts, and plays like a rookie at times, Sanchez has had a decent rookie season at quarterback, the most difficult and important position in professional football.

I will also call out Percy Harvin, KR/WR, Minnesota Vikings for making an impact on his team, especially in the return game and Michael Oher, RT, Baltimore Ravens, who has had an excellent rookie season on the line of scrimmage. (Note there is a made for TV movie about Michael Oher’s story coming out soon).

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE: Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills

Byrd has been a turnover machine the past few weeks and has made a clear impact for the Bills on the defensive side of the ball. It makes me feel like the Patriots picked the wrong Oregon defensive back in Patrick Chung.

The only other player considered for this illustrious midseason honor was Brian Cushing, the USC linebacker now playing for the Houston Texans who leads all rookies in tackles.

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Brett Favre Throws Pass Against Green Bay

LEAGUE MVP: Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings

I have to admit I have been rather sick of the Brett Favre retirement saga but what to say? He is the main difference personnel wise on the talented Vikings team and has completely turned this team into an elite squad. The difference he has made can be seen not only in their 7-1 record but the players’ attitudes on and off the field. Only time will tell if he can keep it up. And this is clear evidence of how important the quarterback position is in today’s NFL.

HEAD COACH: Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos

I was one of those piling on the abuse of both Josh McDaniels and Jay Cutler in the seemingly chaotic offseason the Denver Broncos had. So far McDaniels has had the last laugh, completely turning around the Broncos into, at this stage, one of the elite teams in the league. And he’s done it with Kyle Orton as quarterback instead of Jay Cutler. Meanwhile the Bears are struggling with Cutler at the helm. Go figure!

COMEBACK PLAYER: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

After suffering a season ending ACL injury last year, Brady has come back and played well this year. While he might not look like the Brady of old quite yet, he certainly is progressing in that direction as the season unfolds.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Denver Broncos

The Broncos were basically a mediocre to even poor team by the end of last season and their defense was one of the worst in the league. This year they have started out 6-1 and have an efficient offense that can score and one of the best defenses in the league. After the chaotic offseason where the team seemed in disarray I thought the Broncos would be lucky to have an 8-8 record this year. I guess I have been proven wrong and I am certainly surprised.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Tennessee Titans

How does a team go from Super Bowl contender to one of the worst teams in the league so quickly? I know the Titans have suffered injuries and lost players but that still does not explain the complete collapse of the team. Worse yet, the players look like they quit in some games. And what is really shocking is this is a Jeff Fisher coached team, one of the most respected coaches in the league. If the Titans think Vince Young is going to lead them out of this slump they are in for a huge disappointment.

GOAT: Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers

Jake Delhomme picked up right where he left off last year, where he threw five interceptions in an atrocious performance in the playoffs. He has already thrown 13 interceptions in the first seven games of the season and is playing so poorly that I do not understand why the Panthers are so reluctant to start Matt Moore. Jake Delhomme has obviously seen his better days so if Matt Moore is not the future of the franchise, the Panthers better start finding somebody who is.

PUNK: Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Larry Johnson has a history of abusing women which makes him a super punk. This year he is once again showing what a punk he is by trashing his coach and using gay slurs in public, leading to a suspension. He has wanted out of Kansas City for a few years now so maybe this is just a ploy to accomplish that. But who would want a washed up, bad attitude running back who is a me first player who doesn’t care about his team or his teammates? Maybe the Raiders.

Others in the running are Roy Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys, who is pulling a TO and punking his QB Tony Romo. When will Dallas ever find a top flight receiver who is not a me first player who cares more about winning games than piling up statistics?

Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins, also was considered for calling out his offensive line and causing trouble in the locker room with fullback Mike Sellers. This is the second or maybe even third season in a row Portis has publically criticized his teammates and offensive line. While part of his complaints are true, maybe he also needs to look in the mirror.

Jerry Porter is a loudmouth punk. I can’t stand him. Shut up already.

Doug Baker’s 2009 Midseason NFL All Pro Team: Defense

It’s the middle of the 2009 NFL football season and time to make my midseason NFL All Pro selection. As always, some players on this list might not make the cut by the end of the season, and some players who have been injured and did not make it this time around may end up on the team at the end of the year (like Troy Polamalu).

The top players on the list are the starters and the second players are backups.


2009 ALL PRO TEAM DEFENSE

DE: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings

DE: Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers

DE: Aaron Schobel, Buffalo Bills’

DE: Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts

Jared Allen is the most dominant defensive player in the league today. He has owned the line scrimmage and is part of the reason why the Minnesota Vikings defense is so good. He is the type of defensive player than can dominate a game on his own.

After Allen I actually found it hard to pick other defensive linemen in general. I have heard much talk about the so called down year Julius Peppers is having but I don’t see it. He’s still one of the elite defensive ends in the league.

I have also been very impressed every time I have seen Aaron Schobel play. He always seems to be in the thick of things, disrupting the offense.

Finally, I really hate to put Dwight Freeney on this squad because he is awful against the run. But he is a pass rushing machine and in a league dominated by the pass, he’s a great asset.

DT: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens

DT: Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers

DT: Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings

DT: Chris Hovan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Haloti Ngata has really come into his own as a defensive tackle and is the best player at this position in 2009. He does tire a bit at the ends of games, but don’t all defensive tackles? He has helped keep the linebackers for the Ravens clean and able to light people up.

Casey Hampton is the best nose guard in the league this year and really clogs up the middle of the line while the voracious Pittsburgh linebackers chew up running backs and receivers.

Minnesota has a great defensive line with Kevin and Pat Williams. Both are deserving of a spot on this team but I am going with Kevin. He seems quicker to get penetration and tougher to move off the line of scrimmage.

Finally, every time I have seen Tampa Bay get spanked this year one defensive player stands out, and that is Chris Hovan. It’s not his fault the defense is so lame this year.

And for my fellow Patriots fans who wonder why Vince Wilfork isn’t on the team? He’s not been nearly as impressive in the 4-3 and gets pushed off the line of scrimmage more easily, not that he still isn’t a great defensive tackle.

And the $100 million man Haynesworth? Hurt, less effective, and whining. Figures.


LB: Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos

LB: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

LB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens

LB: Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons

LB: Dhani Jones, Cincinnati Bengals

LB: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49’ers

LB: London Fletcher, Washington Redskins

LB: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

For linebackers I pick a starting unit of four and a back up unit of four, regardless of whether they play inside or outside.

So far this season the linebacker that has had the most impact on his team is Elvis Dumervil of the Denver Broncos. He has an AFC high ten sacks and plays well against the run and pass. He seems to be playing better in the 3-4 brought in by Josh McDaniels.

James Harrison leads a Pittsburgh linebacker crew that wreaks pure havoc on opposing offenses. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year is a force to be reckoned with again.

How does Ray Lewis, as old as he is, still play at such a high level? It’s no hyperbole to say that Ray Lewis is a first ballot Hall of Fame linebacker. He remains the leader of one of the best defenses in the league.

Finally, second year player Curtis Lofton of the Atlanta Falcons rounds out the starting lineup. He is the defensive leader of a young Falcons unit and the NFL’s leading tackler.

And the best of the rest – Dhani Jones is a key cog in a much improved Cincinnati defensive. Having lost a would have been All Pro in Antwan Odom for the season, he has stepped up his game to keep the pace going for this team.

Patrick Willis for the past three years has been one of the best middle linebackers in the league. Mike Singletary must love this guy.

The Washington Redskins are in disarray but London Fletcher remains a steadfast, sturdy, hard tackling inside linebacker on a defense that remains sturdy but tends to give up big plays. He’s had little help from Mr. $100 million man Albert Haynesworth.

Finally, he of the drooping, slobbering lower lip, Terrell Suggs, continues to wreak havoc and cause disarray for opposing offenses. He can often be seen in the backfield around the ball with his lip hanging to the ground spewing venom at his opponents.


SS: Brian Dawkins, Denver Broncos

SS: Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals

Troy Polamalu is the best strong safety in the league and had one of the most dominant games I have seen from a strong safety in the first game of the season. But he was injured and out of action too many games to make the midseason team.

Instead I am going with Brian Dawkins. He has brought a level of leadership and swagger to the Denver defense that it did not have last year and it’s no wonder they are playing as well as they are. I am sure the Eagles badly miss his presence on their squad.

Adrian Wilson had a great season last year and has been a strong defensive presence for a few seasons. He helps anchor an improved Cardinals defense.


FS: Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints

FS: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens

Darren Sharper came to the Saints this year from the Minnesota Vikings is a candidate for defensive player of the year honors. He is has been grabbing interceptions, making big tackles, and leading the resurgent New Orleans Saints’ defense.

Ed Reed simply remains one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league. He still has the ability to dominate a game. He has a nose for the ball and if he grabs and interception, he is always a threat to take it all the way.


CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders

CB: Darrelle Revis, New York Jets

CB: Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings

CB: Terence Newman, Dallas Cowboys

I know he has been burned a few times this year but Nnamdi Asomugha is still the best cornerback in the league. He does it all in coverage and he’s not afraid to tackle.

The young Darrelle Revis made a name for himself smack talking about covering Randy Moss and then backing it up on the field. He’s had more than a solid season and has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

I love the way the smallish Antoine Winfield plays football. He’s not even 200 pounds but will come up and lay a big hit on running backs much bigger than he is. Deion Sanders used to run away from people coming at him.

The last spot was a tough one but Terence Newman has laid some smack downs on receivers this year and is very consistent in his coverage.

P: Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders

Why do the worst teams always have the best punters? I guess because they get plenty of chance to practice their craft.

Special Teamer: Melvin Bullitt, Indianapolis Colts

I just love how Bullitt will blow you up if he gets a good shot at you.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

Right now Jared Allen is the most dominant defensive player in the league. It’s scary how there is so much talent on this team and they have Jared Allen too?

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE: Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills

With hats off to Brian Cushing, the USC linebacker now with the Houston Texans, who is having a fine year, this young rookie from Oregon has been awesome the last few weeks.

 

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Jared Allen is a Dominate Force on Defense