SB Nation's Mid-Season NFL Studs, Duds Awards

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SB Nation's Mid-Season NFL Studs, Duds Awards

Compiled by Brad Wells, the lead writer and editor of SB Nation's Colts blog Stampede Blue.

The SB Nation football bloggers were recently polled for the annual Mid-Season NFL Studs and Duds and the results were not all that surprising. What is surprising is how these results shift from Week 1 to Week 8, From Week 8 to Week 16, and on into the next season. For example, last year at this exact same time, the 2008 NFL MVP Stud for the mid-point of the season was Clinton Portis and the best coach in the NFL at the 2008 mid-point was Jim Zorn. Today, many of us are wondering if Portis still has the talent of a top tier running back, and when Jim Zorn will be fired.

We conduct mid-season and end of season awards so we can illustrate just how fluid the NFL is. One minute, your team looks unstoppable and your best player seems godly. The next, your team seems like a bunch of bums, and your best player is arguing with fans on Twitter. Such is the league we know and love.

For the 2009 Mid-Season Studs and Duds, we see a lot of great (and terrible) play carrying over from last season. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few surprises sprinkled in. Here are the results, along with some blogger commentary, for the 2009 SB Nation NFL Mid-Season Studs and Duds:

STUDS

Mid-Season Mega Stud (aka, MVP): Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

Manning received 52.9% of the votes, with Drew Brees falling one vote shy of earning a share of the honor. It’s hard to go wrong with either player. Last season, when we polled our bloggers at the end of the 2008 regular season, Manning and the Dolphins' Chad Pennington tied as the NFL MVPs. While Pennington has fallen once again (even before his third shoulder injury, which has ended his 2009 season), Manning has picked up where he left off. In six of his seven NFL games thus far, Manning has thrown for over 300 yards.

From the bloggers:

What else is new here? Just like in baseball with Albert Pujols, as long as he remains healthy, we can just give Peyton Manning the MVP award every year.

I like Brees and everything, but Manning is doing what he's done this season while adjusting to having a couple of kids at WR in Collie and Garcon, as well as a new head coach.

If the head coach and Offensive Coordinator died on the way to the game, Manning could still run the offense w/o problem.

 

Mid-Season NFL Offensive Stud (aka, Best Player on Offense): Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Like the MVP voting, this too has some carry-over from last year, where Drew Brees won Offensive Stud after compiling an amazing 5,000 yard season. Unlike the MVP balloting, this one was not close. Brees received 52.9% of the vote and his closest competition (Manning) received 35.3%. Brees has been on fire to start this season, completing 68% of his passes, tossing 16 TDs, and setting the pace for possibly another 5,000 yard season.

From the bloggers:

While Manning is efficient, Drew Brees has led the Saints to averaging 40+ points per game.

Brees and Manning are close, but Brees has done it against better competition. Manning gets the MVP award, but Brees is the driving force behind the undefeated Saints. What he did in Week 7 in putting up 36 points in a half against the Dolphins was a thing of beauty.


Mid-Season NFL Defensive Stud (aka, Best Player on Defense): Tie between Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings and Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints

Both players are having monster seasons. Allen keys the Minnesota Vikings defense with 10.5 sacks (again, we’re at the mid-point people!), three forced fumbles, a defensive TD, and a safety. The player he is tied with in our voting -- Darren Sharper -- well, all he’s done is snatch 6 INTs and return not one, not two, but THREE of them for TDs.

From the bloggers:

Did anyone see this coming from the aging veteran? Sharper isn't only marching his way towards a season award, he's inching closer and closer to Canton.

Allen plays on a talented Vikings team, but he's the catalyst of a truly excellent defense. He's unblockable.

 

Mid-Season NFL Stud Rook (aka, NFL’s Best Rookie Player): Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

The voting was in favor of Harvin in a landslide. At 5’11, 192 pounds, many people questioned whether Harvin was big enough or disciplined enough to excel at the pro level. This is likely why he fell in the draft from a top 10 pick to the 22nd pick. However, you won’t hear the Minnesota Vikings complaining.

As much as the 2009 season has been about Brett Favre playing in purple, or Jared Allen sacking QBs left and right, Percy Harvin might be the biggest catalyst for the Vikings' fast start. He has been a demon on special teams, already returning two kicks for TDs. He also has 28 receptions for 369 yards and three TDs, averaging 13.2 yards a completion. That’s amazing for a rookie WR, no matter his size or his draft pedigree.

Interesting side note: this category received the most write-in replies despite Harvin cruising for the win. Bloggers wrote in names like Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd and Steelers receiver Mike Wallace. And speaking of those bloggers, here's what a few of them had to say about Harvin:

Okay, I'll admit, I'm biased towards Harvin here, but with his two kick returns for touchdowns and contributions to the passing game for the Vikings, he has given the Vikings' offense a dimension that simply wasn't there before.

Some very solid rookies this year, but Harvin's impact in receiving and in the return game gives him a leg up.

 

Mid-Season Stud Coach (aka, Best NFL Coach): Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos

Few rookie coaches were as harshly criticized and mercilessly blasted prior to the start of actual games being played than Josh McDaniels was during the 2009 off-season. McDaniels’ attempt to trade for Matt Cassell, his falling out with Jay Cutler, his eventual trading of Jay Cutler for Chicago Bears' cast-off Kyle Orton, and his rift with star WR Brandon Marshall had many people predicting Denver would struggle this year. Well, after a 6-1 start, with victories over the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers, Josh McDaniels is showing the football world that he might know what he’s doing. McDaniels won 76.5% of the voting from our bloggers.

Interesting side note: the first rookie head coach in NFL history (since the 1970 merger) to start a season 7-0 is Indianapolis Colts rookie coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell received only one vote from our cadre of bloggers, and that one vote did not come from myself (the Colts blogger). Speaking of bloggers:

Easy pick here. Trades Cutler and wins with Orton. With all the draft picks they have, look out for Denver.

I've never seen a rookie head coach go from "clown" to "genius" so damn quick. Hey, remember when everybody said that Josh McDaniels was an idiot and was going to get run out of Denver before the season was over? Yeah ... we were sort of wrong on that one, weren't we?

 

DUDS

Mid-Season Mega Dud (aka, this guy has really been awful so far): JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders

Like with some of the Stud voting, this too has carry-over from last year, where Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was voted Biggest Dud of the 2008 season. Despite weapons on offense like Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Justin Fargas, along with a solid defense that features Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha, Russell has been perfectly dreadful throwing the football. He is completing only 48% of his passes and has a mid-season QB rating of 48.3. He also has nine INTs and five lost fumbles to go with only two passing TDs. Russell was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, and right now he is the worst starting QB in the entire league.

From the bloggers:

No explanation is really necessary, is there? Russell has been as bad as they come at quarterback in the NFL this year. Considering just how poor play has been league wide at the most important position in the game, that's saying something.

If you need sufficient entertainment, head on over to the "Fake Fat Jamarcus" Twitter page: http://twitter.com/fakefatjamarcus -- If anybody other than JaMarcus had won this, blogging rights need to be revoked.

 

Mid-Season Dud Rook (aka, this rookie has really been awful so far): Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders

As you can see, the active roster for the Oakland Raiders is not a favorite for many of our NFL bloggers. Part of the reasoning behind Heyward-Bey’s Dud award has nothing to do with what he’s done (or hasn’t done) on the field. Rather than select the prolific Michael Crabtree or the electric Percy Harvin, Raiders owner emperitus maximus oldusasdirtus Al Davis used the 7th overall pick in the 2009 draft on Heyward-Bey. And while Percy Harvin is splashing highlight reel material everywhere with his amazing kick returns and Michael Crabtree has shown promise since signing with the 49ers after a lengthy holdout, Heyward-Bey has only been able to muster five catches for 73 yards in seven games. For the No. 7 overall pick, regardless of the reasoning for that pick, those numbers are bad.

From the bloggers:

It's not really DHB's fault that the Raiders were stupid enough to draft him in the Top 10 and hand him $23.5 million in guarantees, and then expect him to produce while playing with easily the league's worst quarterback. Still... Does this really surprise anyone? DHB has already been surpassed in virtually every category by Michael Crabtree's two game.

 

Mid-Season Dud Coach (aka, Why isn’t this guy bagging my groceries instead of coaching my team?): Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns

Lots of coaches were up for this "award," as there are currently five teams with only one win and one team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) who have yet to win a game. However, the crème of the coaching garbage pile seems to be Eric Mangini, who has taken the 3-13 Browns from last year and somehow actually made them worse. Mangini hasn’t helped his cause by pissing off reporters, fining players for using water bottles at hotels, and generally acting pompous for much of the 2009 season. Mangini took 56.3% of the vote from our bloggers, with his closest competitor (Jim Zorn) hauling in 25% of the votes.

From the bloggers:

It was weird when Cleveland hired Mangini to essentially run the entire show after he got fired by the Jets. Now "weird" is just one giant LOL. Players hate him, he makes stupid decisions, and rides with the arrogance of Bill Belichick. Not only is he the NFL's worst coach, he's also the NFL's biggest impostor.

On such a young team, with nowhere to go but up, it's difficult to crush the team spirit and have the locker room turn against you before the preseason. Somehow Mangenius pulled it off.

There you have it. Share your thoughts on our bloggers' selections in the comments. We'll be back in a few short months with the postseason NFL Studs and Duds awards.

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