NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Patriots were off this weekend, getting rested up for the stretch run before a hopeful playoff berth. They didn’t get to be a part of one of the worst weekends for sportsbooks, but a great one for guys that bet on NFL football this weekend.
As the Patriots head into the second half of the season, I hand out a few awards to some deserving Patriots.
Comeback Player of the Year
Devin McCourty had an awful 2011 season, nobody is denying that. However, in 2012 McCourty has consistently been a steady contributor in a secondary that has been anything but
He has only missed two tackles all year, defending six passes, grabbing two interceptions and holding opposing quarterback to a QB rating of 65.6 when throwing in his direction.
Coach of the Year
Dante Scarnecchia has, once again, done an amazing job with the Patriots offensive line. He has consistently protected Tom Brady with makeshift parts, rookies and veteran castoffs.
He is grooming Nate Solder to join Sebastian Vollmer as one of the top ten tackles in the NFL and has gotten everything he could out of an interior line that looked like it would sorely miss Brian Waters.
Coach Scar might be the best positional coach in the entire NFL, even if you’ll rarely see his name on ESPN.com.
Rookie of the Year
Dont’a Hightower has been very good, as well as Alfonzo Dennard. Even Tavon Wilson has made some plays. That said, Chandler Jones has won this award and it isn’t even close.
Jones has had a better statistical season than Jason Pierre-Paul, racking up six sacks and 20 hurries. You could argue that Jones is even more valuable to the Patriots than JPP is to the Giants, as Jones has accounted for almost a third of the Patriots 65 hurries to the date.
This is the hardest decision that I had to make handing out awards. Is Tom Brady helped out by Rob Gronkowski or vice versa? In the end I had to give the award to Gronk.
Gronkowski is still one of Brady’s go-to targets in the passing game, but it is his contributions in the Patriots’ potent running attack that really set him above Brady. The balance that the Patriots have exhibited this year will be so key come the playoffs.
Devin McCourty, contrary to popular belief, has played very well so far for this year, but he can’t crack the top three of the defensive MVP’s.
Brandon Spikes and Vince Wilfork both have made big impacts this year, but Chandler Jones once again takes the award. Without him consistently harassing the quarterback, I shudder to think what opposing offenses would have done against the secondary.
Who would you choose for your mid-season awards in the above categories?