Passing Out Some Early Hardware

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: October 3, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Today, we take a brief look at the best and the worst of the NFL through the first four weeks of the season.

Best Team: Tennessee Titans – Surprisingly even without former franchise player V.Y, the Titans keep marching through everyone. The Titans have a 4-0 record for the first time in franchise history. They are 2.5 games ahead of AFC South favorite Indianapolis and I don’t even know if Peyton will be able to close the gap. The Titans also lead the NFL with 12 takeaways, which efficient quarterback Kerry Collins and mercurial rookie running back Chris Johnson have turned into score after score — produced 30 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2004.

Honorable Mention: Buffalo Bills (4-0 for the 4th quarter kids), Giants (everyone has forgotten about the Super Bowl champs, but they are showing grit without Strahan and Umenyiora), and the Cowboys (Sure they stumbled against the ‘Skins, but they too much talent to not win).

Worst Team: St. Louis Rams – This was a toss up, but in the end the Rams are the NFL’s worst team after four games. They have lost all four games by lopsided margins and teams have gone deep over and over. To drive home the point of “how” bad this team is, the Rams have been outscored 147-43 this season, and have allowed at least 30 points in seven straight games dating back to last year.

Dishonorable mention: Detroit Lions (Millen wasn’t this 0-3 team’s only problem), Cincinnati Bengals (With Palmer hurting, Lewis may have no chance to come back from a 0-4 start), and Kansas City Chiefs (took until week 4 to end their franchise record 12 game losing streak).

Best Head Coach: Buffalo Bills Dick Jauron – His young team is very tough sporting 3 come-from-behind wins and they are 4-0 for the first time since 1992. The Bills have scored 109 points while allowing only 63 points in four games. The upstart Bills still have to play at the Patriots in week 10, but for now they are the beat of the AFC East.

Honorable Mention: Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher.

Most Disappointing Head Coach: Cleveland Browns Romeo Crennel – After the Browns went a surprising 10-6 in 2007 and saved Crennel’s job, everyone (including yours truly) thought the division title would come in ’08. Unfortunately the Browns have reverted back to form from Crennel’s first two years (6-10 and 4-12) as they have stumbled to a 1-3 record including an 0-2 mark at home. The blame can be equally spread out between the offense and defense as the Browns have allowed 78 points and only scored 46 points in four games.

Dishonorable mention: Vikings head coach Brad Childress (high expectations and low results)…BTW: Linehan and Kiffin were too easy to pick

Offensive MVP: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo – America’s favorite gunslinger has shined as the Cowboys have gotten off to a solid 3-1 record. I know everyone wants to see if Romo can handle the pressure in the playoffs, but he has looked sharp throwing for 300 yards or more in 3 out of 4 games with the only exception a 260-yard, 1 TD, and 1 INT effort in a 27-16 win over the Packers in week 3. The Cowboys have been impressive beating the Browns, Eagles, and Packers while dropping a close loss to the Redskins in week four. Through 4 games, Romo’s numbers are impressive 64.7%, 1192 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT, and a 99.0 quarterback rating. Maybe after seeing those numbers T.O will quit his belly-aching about the number of passes in his direction.

Honorable Mention: Redskins WR Santana Moss (3 consecutive 100-yard games), Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (looks like the ’04 version of himself sporting a 95.7 rating), Jets QB Brett Favre (loves his new team and it shows by 6 TDs in one game), Falcons RB Michael Turner (Free Agent is living up to expectations) and Redskins QB Jason Campbell (rating of 102.2 and looked impressive versus Dallas).

Offensive Lackey: Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Johnson – I have one question, “Where are all of your touchdown dances now?” He wants to be called Ocho Cinco, but it should be more like “Ocho Stinko”. As the Bengals loqcauois receiver seems more concerned with getting his new name on his jersey rather than playing football. Johnson’s numbers through four games are pedestrian at best 11 receptions for 116 yards and 1 touchdown. The Bengals are 0-4 and Johnson probably only cares that his agent Drew “Next Question” Rosenhaus won’t be able to get him the big pay day he whined about all off-season.

Dishonorable Mention: Texans QB Matt Schaub (5 INTs and no wins in three games), Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson (never threw for over 200 yards and only completed 51% of his passes in two losses before Gus stepped in), St. Louis Rams Defense (allowed 147 points and 983 passing yards in 4 games), and Packers RB Ryan Grant (got the big contract but his numbers are weak at 55 rushes for 186 yards (3.4 ypc) and no touchdowns)

Defensive MVP: Tennessee Titans DT Albert Haynesworth – The lynch pin of the (4-0) Titans defense has been dominant in the Titans first four games to say the least. Haynesworth has 15 tackles, 5 sacks, and 3 passes defensed to boot.

Honorable Mention: Titans CB Courtland Finnegan (4 INTs), Bucs LB Derrick Brooks (still making game changing plays at 35), Falcons DE Jon Abraham (6 sacks), Steelers LB James Harrison (5.5 sacks, 2 FF), and Redskins rookie DB Chris Horton (3 INTs).

Defensive Lackey: Denver Broncos DB Champ Bailey – The supposed all-world corner (16 TKLs, 0 INTs) has not shown much as his team has allowed an average of over 400 yards a game. The Broncos are 3-1, but they seem ready to implode with a defense that cannot stop anyone.

Dishonorable Mention: Lions DT Cory Redding (after a big pay day from being franchised, he has produced 8 TKLS and 0 INTs), Saints CB Jason David (the former Colts defender only has 4 TKLS with 0 INTs while he and his mates in the Saints secondary have been beaten deep often), and Rams DB Corey Chavous (will be the NFL’s worst defense’s representative as the veteran has 21 TKLs, but no INTs while beaten deep over and over… in the Eagles tape).

Offensive Rookie of the Quarter: Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson – Despite splitting time with bulldozer LenDale White, Johnson has emerged as one of the NFL’s top combo backs. The rookie from East Carolina has impressive numbers (67 rushes for 337 yards, 5.0 ypc average, and 2 TDs plus 10 receptions for 65 yards w/ 1 TD) and he has fumbled in 77 touches. Look for Johnson and a veteran opportunistic defense to continue to carry the (4-0) Titans.

Honorable Mention: Bears RB Matt Forte’ (347 rushing yards w/ 1 TD), Ravens QB Joe Flacco (2-1 as a starter), Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (over 100 yards twice with 1 TD), Raiders RB Darren McFadden (272 yards, 5.3 ypc, and 1 TD), Cowboys RB/KR Felix Jones (148 yards rushing with 2 TDs and a kickoff return for a touchdown), and Broncos WR Eddie Royal (27 rec 298 yds and 2 TDs).

Defensive Rookie of the Quarter: New England Patriots LB Jerrod Mayo – The rookie linebacker has fit right in with a veteran defensive group and is already making plays. His numbers are already impressive (25 TKLS w/ 21 unassisted) and expect to see more game changing plays as we reach the midway point.

Honorable Mention: Saints DB Tracy Porter (22 TKLS, 4 Passes Def, and 1 INT), Rams DE Chris Long (2 sacks), Browns LB Alex Hall (2 sacks, 1 FF), Dolphins DL Kennard Langford (8 TKLS, 2 sacks), Jags DE Quentin Groves (10 TKLS, 1 sack, and 1 FF), Redskins DB Chris Holt (3 INTs), Bengals LB Keith Rivers (28 TKLs) and Chiefs DB Brandon Flowers (18 TKLS, 1 FF).