The Serby Midseason Awards discovered a way to include the Giants and Jets during yet another season of despair.
A list of studs and duds, to be sure:
MVP: Matthew Stafford (QB, Rams)
A career-high 68.9 completion percentage, 22 touchdowns, four interceptions. Following three wild-card playoff losses in 12 years held hostage in Detroit, playing for Sean McVay is a match made in heaven. And he with the Lions, he didn’t have the luxury of throwing to relentless Cooper Kupp either.
Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry (RB, Titans)
A shame that the closest thing we have seen to Jim Brown might be lost for the rest of the season (foot surgery). Adrian Peterson isn’t All Day the way Henry (937 rushing yards, 10 TDs, 18-154 receiving) was for poor defenders who stood in his way.
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett (DE, Browns)
Tackling machine linebacker Bobby Wagner (Seahawks) and T.J. Watt (Steelers) earned consideration, but 10.5 sacks seals the deal.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’Maar Chase (WR, Bengals)
It turns out Joe Burrow profited more from the drafting of his former LSU teammate (38-786, seven TDs) than he would have by the drafting of offensive tackle Penei Sewell, at least for now.
“Extremely fast, hard to cover one-on-one, if nothing else he’ll just outrun you,” Phil Simms said of Chase. “He’s a good route-runner. He is as polished as an NFC receiver coming in in his first year — I’m not gonna say ever, but as good as I’ve seen. He’s got all the moves and steps and everything that you see a polished veteran have. Give the Bengals a ton of credit.
“They did something that goes against the NFL mantra — they passed up the left tackle to take a wide receiver. It might become the norm, because these wide receivers affect so much of the team now, it’s ridiculous. They help the run game, they help pass coverage, they help the offense, which in turn helps the defense. It’s a trickle-down effect. I think he’s had an unbelievable effect on the whole organization.”
Runner-up: Steelers dual threat RB Najee Harris.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons (LB, Cowboys)
“He’s just a wild stallion, man, that they are trying to saddle up and kind of make sure they keep him playing the right direction as far as alignment assignment technique consistency,” ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” analyst Louis Riddick said of Parsons, who has 42 tackles and 2.5 sacks, “but they don’t want to hold him back too much because what makes him special is the fact that this guy’s just a freak. You don’t want to harness it much. Trust me, I’m not comparing Micah Parsons to Lawrence Taylor. But the way Bill [Parcells] and Bill [Belichick] talk about LT, it’s just kind of like leave him alone because he’s gonna wreck [things] all on his own in a way that we can’t coach anyway. Micah has some of that in him, although look, LT’s once in a lifetime.”
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh (Ravens)
Loses RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and LT Ronnie Stanley, and QB Lamar Jackson never blinks. Loses first-round WR Rashod Bateman for the first five games. Loses CB Marcus Peters. Runners-up: Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals) and Sean Payton (Saints), who has navigated through life after Drew Brees and life without Michael Thomas and now must carry on without Jameis Winston.
Comeback Player of the Year: Dak Prescott (QB, Cowboys)
A career-high 73.1 completion percentage, with 16 TDs and four INTs.
“He’s in that quarterback matrix, I’d like to call it, right now where he has the answers to every test that you give him from a defensive perspective,” Riddick said. “You take away the run game, he’ll throw it. You take away the passing game, he’ll run it. He’s just in a good place mentally right now, and when you talk to him you can tell that. It’s just real cool.”
Worst coaching decision: Urban Meyer (Jaguars)
Ah, the NFL coaching grind. Not accompanying the team flight home following a Thursday night loss to the Bengals was inexcusable. Poor Trevor Lawrence.
Best kick of the year: John Mara (Giants)
From the looks of the fallen trash can, this appeared to be an attempt for a record-setting field goal rather than an onside kick. The good news: no turf toe on injury report.
Mama never said there’d be days like this: Zach Wilson (QB, Jets)
A stomach-churning rookie roller-coaster ride, a knee injury, and Jets fans chanting “Mike White.”
Assistant Coach of the Year: Dan Quinn (defensive coordinator, Cowboys)
“He’s all juice, man, he’s a ton of energy,” Riddick said. “He had a helluva year really evaluating himself in the offseason as far as where he went wrong as a head coach, where he went wrong from a philosophical standpoint particularly on defense, how he could take his game to the next level as a play-caller and as a schemer. How he could better utilize players, connect with players, get the best out of players, and he told us all of this in the production meeting we had with them, and you can see the results of it now. He’s special, man. He deserves a ton of credit.”
The Donald Sterling award: Dan Snyder (owner, Washington)
Otherwise known as “Worst Owner.” He warranted a league suspension for such a revolting toxic culture rather than a $10 million fine and relinquishing control of the day-to-day operations.
THE Gugielmo Marconi award: Joe Judge (coach, Giants)
“Hello? Hello? Hey Daniel, FB West Right Slot 372 Y Stick, can you hear me? Hello? Hello? Anybody home?”
The Mandela award: Tom Brady (QB, Buccaneers)
Rewarded Bucs fan Byron Kennedy, who got Brady’s 600th TD ball, which WR Mike Evans innocently handed to Kennedy, with two signed jerseys plus a helmet from Brady, a signed Mike Evans jersey, the cleats Evans wore in the game, a $1,000 gift card to the Buccaneers’ team store and Bucs season tickets for the rest of 2021 and all of 2022.
Brady: “Byron realized he lost all his leverage when he gave the ball away. He should have held it to get as much leverage as possible.”
Peyton Manning: “Amateur move. If he would have held it, he would have been sitting in the Tom Brady suite for the rest of the season, but amateur move on his part.”
The Arians award: Rich Bisaccia (interim coach, Raiders)
Far different circumstances replacing Jon Gruden than Bruce Arians met head-on when former Colts coach Chuck Pagano battled leukemia in 2012, but still.
The Mistake by the Lake: Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, Browns)
His one-handed catch for the ages with the Giants turned out to be a blessing — financially — and a curse. Baker Mayfield-to-OBJ … not exactly Montana-to-Rice.
Host of Jeopard-izing the Green Bay Packers.
The persona non grata: Deshaun Watson (QB, Texans, sort of)
Too many alleged skeletons in that closet.
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