IT”S LIKE A HORSE RACE
As someone who’s been a member of the A.P.’s panel of voters for the All-Pro team and post season awards, I’ve looked at the season sort of like a horse race. Sixteen games is more akin to the mile and a half Belmont Stakes than the shorter Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. It’s a long season, and a lot can change between now and January.
WE’RE PASSING THE QUARTER POLE:
With a quarter of the season already done this is how I size things up.
Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Last season’s pick was obvious therefore easy to make. It was Cam Newton. This season the battle for offensive rookie of the year will be tougher, though it’ll likely be a quarterback. Out of the gate fast and leading at the quarter pole is Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. In his final season at Baylor, he was rarely intercepted and that’s carried over at least thus far to the NFL. He’s completing nearly 70% of his passes with four touchdowns and just a single pick. He’s also run for four touchdowns. I’ve never been able to figure out that goofy passer rating so I don’t pay any attention to it. Instead I watch the game and RG3 passes the eye test. He looks like a great leader too.
Meanwhile Griffin’s teammate, Alfred Morris the rookie running back out of Florida Atlantic, has emerged as an award contender. He’s averaged over four and a half yards a carry, totaling 376 yards with four touchdowns. He’s also protected the football.
Andrew Luck, the number one pick in the draft was off last week but should put up numbers to be in this horse race over the long haul.
Right now, RG3 is in the lead for Rookie of the Year honors, but it's a long season
Defensive rookie of the year:
Last year by pick and the award winner was Von Miller of Denver. Right now I like Chandler Jones, the defensive end for the New England Patriots. The Pats traded up in the first round to grab the lineman from Syracuse and we can see why. He has three sacks in four games, has forced a couple of fumbles, has 9 solo tackles, 17 overall and he’s on the field a lot.
Defensive player of the year:
My choice last season was Justin Smith of the 49ers. Right now my pick for this years award is J.J. Watt of the Texans. In just his second season, he’s become a dominant defensive force. He had 5.5 sacks in his rookie season. Through four games this year he has 7.5.
Offensive player of the year:
Last season it was Drew Brees, for smashing Dan Marino’s single season record for passing yards. A few years ago it was Chris Johnson for rushing for over 2,000 yards. This season, A.J. Green has blossomed into one of the games great receivers, putting up big numbers. Both Marshawn Lynch and Jaamal Charles are rushing for over 100 yards a game. As far as quarterbacks go Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Shaub and RG3 are all setting a high bar. At the moment I’ll go with Ryan. His team is unbeaten and he put together a great game winning drive in the final minutes last week.
Ryan’s my pick here too.
Coach of the year:
My selection and the award winner last year was Jim Harbaugh. He’s doing a great job again this season, but he’ll be compared to himself.
The top contenders right now are Atlanta’s Mike Smith, Gary Kubiak of Houston, the Vikings Leslie Frazier, Ken Whisenhunt of the Cardinals and the Rams Jeff Fisher. Tough choice. I’m going with Kubiak.
Comeback player of the year
I give the edge at the moment to K.C. running back Jamaal Charles over Peyton Manning.
We’ll do this again when the season is half over.
Bob Berger is a 35-year veteran of sports radio. For the last 18 seasons Bob hosted "Around The NFL" on Network Radio. He's on the Panel of Voters for the Associated Press NFL All-Pro team and post season awards. In recent years Bob hosted weekends on Yahoo Sports Radio, Sporting News Radio and One On One Sports. He is a graduate of the University of Miami.