A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Handing Out Some Hardware
Head Coach of the first quarter: San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary – A tough teacher, who is not afraid to dole out love plus get in a player’s grill. The Niners are 3-1 with two divisional wins already and could be 4-0 if no for Brett Favre and Greg Lewis.
Honorable Mention: Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Vikings head coach Brad Childress.
Offensive Player of the first quarter: Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning – Quite frankly, the man is a machine. Robo-quarterback has led his team to a 4-0 record – 13 straight wins going back to 2008 – and thrown for over 300 yards every week. Plus the three-time MVP (may some be four) has made household names of pass catchers Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie while throwing an NFL-leading 1336 yards.
Honorable Mention: Saints QB Drew Brees and Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
Defensive Player of the first quarter: New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper – After Pro Bowl stops with the Packers and Vikings, many people thought Sharper didn’t have much left in the tank. Well people take a second look, as Sharper leads the NFL with 5 INTs. He is the catalyst of the Saints’ rebuilt defense under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. And his 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Jets was not only exciting, but a true game-changer.
Honorable Mention: Vikings DE Jared Allen, NY Jets LB David Harris, and Niners LB Patrick Willis.
Breakout Player of the first quarter: NY Giants WR Steve Smith – With many deserving candidates out there including Bengals DE Antwan Odom (8 sacks) and Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (average of 21.6 ypc), my choice is Smith. When the season opened, everyone wanted to know who was going to replace Plaxico Burress as QB Eli Manning’s go-to-guy. Smith has answered the bell, producing numbers 34 catches (Giants record through 4 games), 411 yards, 12.1 ypc, and 4 TDs. Smith and fellow receiver Mario Manningham should have definitely eased the minds of Giants fans.
Honorable Mention: Jackson, Eagles TE Brent Celek and Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil.
Offensive Rookie of the first quarter: Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox – The only thing better than his cool name is his play. A legitimate 4.3 forty guy, Knox has added explosiveness to the Bears offense and special teams and to think this guy was a fifth round pick out of little Abilene Christian. Despite not starting a game, Knox has produced receiving numbers: 14 catches for 190 yards and 2 TDs with a long of 68 yards in a Week 2 upset win over the Steelers. Has two catches of 40+ yards is a threat to score at any time. The youngster is also making everyone forget about Devin Hester as a kick returner as he leads all kickoff men with two or returns in yardage, averaging 35.8 yards a return. Return a kickoff 102 yards against the Detroit Lions.
Honorable Mention: Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin and NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez.
Defensive Rookie of the first quarter: Detroit Lions FS Louis Delmas – That’s right, the Lions may have the best defensive rookie out there and he wasn’t even a first round “Bonus Baby”. Delmas is a tough kid from Miami, Florida and he truly has a nose for the ball. When the second rounder from Western Michigan gets there, he is always looking to lower the boom. Through four games, Delmas has 22 tackles including 18 solos, 1 sack, and 3 passes defensed. The Lions may not be playoff contenders yet, but by virtue of their Week 3 19-14 win over the Redskins. They can call themselves “winners” and Delmas is a big part of their defense’s rebirth.
Honorable Mention: Miami Dolphins DB Vontae Davis, Seattle Seahawks LB Aaron Curry and Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualaga.
Comeback Player of the first quarter: Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard – After a season where he threw only 15 TDs and had 13 INTs, a lot of people were saying the Garrard was not worth his big contract (6 years, $60 M signed in April 8). After a rough first two weeks of the 2009 season (lost to the Colts and Cardinals), the Jaguars have rebounded behind Garrard, producing two wins. Maybe it was Jags head coach Jack Del Rio canceling his radio show, but something has lit a fire under Garrard. In wins over the Texans and Titans, Garrard has thrown for 537 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. For the season, the former East Carolina star has thrown for numbers 82-138, 59.4%, 941 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT.
Honorable Mention: Oakland Raiders Safety Michael Huff and Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco.
Team of the first quarter: Minnesota Vikings – I know I maybe jumping on ESPN’s Brett Favre bandwagon, but the Vikings are a complete team. At 4-0, they have demonstrated that they can beat you with the run (Adrian Peterson) or pass plus their special teams are doing a great job. We will see if the Vikes can continue their roll as the season goes especially with tough games waiting against the Baltimore Ravens (Week 6), Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 7), Chicago Bears (Weeks 12 & 16)) and NY Giants (Week 17).
Honorable Mention: New Orleans Saints, NY Giants, and NY Jets
Most Disappointing Player of the first quarter: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo – Too tentative in the pocket and hasn’t get it done in crunch time so far. Has 4 TDs, 4 INTs, and a passer rating of 79.4
Dishonorable Mention: Oakland Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell, Buffalo Bills WR Terrell Owens, and the whole Tennessee Titans secondary.
Most Disappointing Team of the first quarter: Tennessee Titans (0-4) – I am still trying to figure out how a team that won 13 games in 2008 has fallen so quickly. Amazingly the Titans squandered a 197-yard rushing performance by RB Chris Johnson in a Week 2 loss to the Texans. The Titans are ranked last in passing defense, allowing an average of 282.2 yards per game. I guess DT Albert Haynesworth, now with the Redskins, meant more than head coach Jeff Fisher thought. I don’t think it will be long before aging veteran QB Kerry Collins is replaced by perceived malcontent QB Vince Young.