The Cardinals have displayed some positives, including convincing wins against the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and most recently the Atlanta Falcons. Their defense carried them throughout these games, and the offense managed to muster up enough to win, which has been their go-to gameplan for winning games since Kurt Warner retired.
Though the team itself is still full of questions, we have figured out a lot about the players on the roster. Big names have disappointed, seemingly non-factors turned in some big time performances, and we now have an indicator of what a Bruce Arians-led Cardinals team looks like.
With a team like the Cardinals, predictions are often hard to make, even in the middle of the season. So instead of predicting who will finish the year as the team MVP or the comeback player of the years, I'm just going to go ahead and hand out midseason awards, and revisit this topic once the season is over.
Without further adieu, I give you your 2013 Arizona Cardinals midseason award winners.
MVP: Patrick Peterson, Cornerback
That's right, folks. This season, Patrick Peterson has officially taken Larry Fitzgerald's place as the best overall player on the Arizona Cardinals, and has thrown his hat into the conversation as the league's best cornerback.
I'm not taking anything away from Fitz, but Peterson has blossomed into the NFL's next Deion Sanders. His punting averages are way down, but he is contributing in all three phases of the game and is a match-up nightmare for both opposing wide receivers and defensive backs.
His defensive numbers aren't eye popping, (21 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 passes deflected) but that is simply because quarterbacks are afraid to throw his way. He has gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, and Vincent Jackson, and other than two big plays by Megatron, no one has gotten the best of him.
I predicted that Peterson would finish this year as a defensive player of the year candidate, and so far he has backed up my claim with his play. Time will tell if he ends up in that conversation, but Peterson has been outstanding thus far this season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Andre Ellington
When the Cardinals traded for quarterback Carson Palmer to team up with head coach Bruce Arians in a vertical offense that features the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, and Rob Housler, how many of us predicted that our most productive offensive player would be a diminutive 6th round rookie running back?
Andre Ellington has been a nice surprise to a Cardinals team that's been looking for a running game since Beanie Wells torched the Rams defense on one leg back in 2011. He only has 43 rushes on the year, but has 333 yards and a whopping 7.7 yards per carry with those opportunities.
He was given the start against the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday, and responded with a 154 yard, one touchdown performance on 15 carries. Arians has been worried about overworking the 5'9, 199 pound running back, but after his performance against the defense formerly known as the 11th ranked rushing defense in the league, he will pretty much be forced to give Ellington more work.
At his current pace, Ellington will end the season with an impressive 1,062 total yards and six total touchdowns. That alone would put him in the conversation as the Cardinals best offensive player, but with an almost guaranteed increase in touches the second half of the season you'd have to think that he's going to far surpass those numbers.
Defensive Player of the Year: Karlos Dansby, linebacker
When Daryl Washington was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, many feared that the Cardinals would be vulnerable in the middle for teams to both run and pass on. Those people seemed to forget just how good Karlos Dansby is.
The ten year veteran came out of the gate running, stifling the Rams running game with his presence in the middle and his knack for being in on every play. Eight games in and that has been the usual for Dansby, who is currently fifth in the league in total tackles.
He has fared well in coverage despite some mishaps with tight ends, and is routinely pressuring the quarterback when he's not bringing down backs for losses. His numbers are great, but they could be even better if it wasn't for some mishaps with the NFL's statisticians, which I covered in an article here.
Pairing Dansby up with Washington in the middle has been a dream come true for Cardinals fans, and Steve Keim would be wise to lock Dansby up for a few more years after his performance thus far this season.
Breakout Player of the Year: Michael Floyd, wide receiver
When the Cardinals go on a long scoring drive largely due to their passing game, one of two things has happened. 1. You are playing Madden,. 2. Carson stopped forcing the ball to an injured and double covered Larry Fitzgerald and started throwing the ball to a young man by the name of Michael Floyd
Floyd was drafted in 2012 to provide another option in the passing game opposite of Fitzgerald, and while his quarterback has held him back from statistically dominating, Floyd has done just that. Teams can no longer bracket Fitz to eliminate the passing game, because Floyd can and will pick you apart with big plays and consistent production.
He was made in the same mold as his mentor, and has been largely involved in almost every long scoring drive this season. He is on pace for a respectable 866 yards and four touchdowns, but his play on the field has been much more impressive than that. Whether he's stonewalling NFL defenders to help break off big runs or catching 30 yard bombs from Carson Palmer, Floyd is helping this offense in a lot of ways.
Rookie of the Year: Tyrann Mathieu, free safety
Was there ever any doubt as to who would get this award? The Honey Badger has been absolutely dominant so far this season, racking up 49 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. What's even more impressive is that every almost every single play he makes is during a crucial point in the game when his team needs him the most.
From punching the ball out during a sure touchdown catch by Jared Cook against the Rams to tackling Lions Nate Burleson one yard short of converting a crucial fourth down in a game deciding play against the Lions, Mathieu has come up big for this team whenever they needed him to.
He was awarded with the NFL's defensive rookie of the month award for October, and is one of the leading candidates for the defensive rookie of the year award. Going from a troubled kid that was kicked out of school to one of the best defensive rookies in football is quite a turnaround, and Mathieu is more than deserving of any and all awards he gets throughout his career.
Cody Milford is an up and coming sports writer hailing from Arizona. His passion is covering the Arizona Cardinals, and his work has been associated with Sports Kings, Yardbarker, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter.
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- American Football
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- Michael Floyd
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- Patrick Peterson
- Karlos Dansby
- Bruce Arians
- Atlanta Falcons