It’s fun to track the progress of the league’s top players from start to finish. And although it’s ridiculous to draw wild conclusions after just one week, everyone enjoys projecting award winners and final statistics based on such an insignificant sample size. So let’s do it.
MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots — Prior to the season, we predicted that Dan Marino’s single-season passing mark might be in jeopardy. But we pegged Philip Rivers and Drew Brees as players who might hit 5,085. We probably should have considered Brady, who is now on pace for 8,272 yards in 2011 after the fifth-most prolific passing game in NFL history.
Offensive player of the year: Brady — But Aaron Rodgers and Rivers are in contention, too.
Defensive player of the year: Terrell Suggs, Ravens — It was really a team effort in Baltimore’s dominant victory over Pittsburgh. And you could argue that Ed Reed (two interceptions), Ray Lewis (a pick and a forced fumble) and Haloti Ngata (constant nuisance) deserve this award as well. But Suggs fueled the Ravens’ defense with constant pressure, sacking Ben Roethlisberger three times as the Ravens registered seven takeaways against their biggest rival.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — A rookie quarterback has never started quite like that. The No. 1 overall pick had a 110 passer rating and turned it over just once in his record-breaking, 422-yard effort against the Cardinals.
Defensive rookie of the year: Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins — The 16th overall pick out of Purdue showed great awareness on a pick six while deflecting two passes and recording five tackles in Washington’s impressive victory against the Giants.
Comeback player of the year: Plaxico Burress, Jets — Slow start, but he settled in to catch four passes for 72 yards. And maybe most importantly, he scored his first touchdown in over 34 months.
Coach of the year: Chan Gailey, Bills– I’ve been hard on him (and the entire team) in the past, but that was an amazing performance on the road to start the season. Despite a fairly severe lack of talent, the Bills were the most dominant team of the opening week.
Executive of the year: Howie Roseman, Eagles — The Dream Team didn’t disappoint in St. Louis, and its architect deserves much of the credit.