It’s hard to believe, but we’re now exactly 25 percent of the way through the 2011 NFL season. And with bye weeks starting this weekend, that’s the final time we’ll be able to give you a nicely rounded number to represent how far along the season is.
We realize that what’s happened thus far could be close to irrelevant in December, but it’s still far too much fun not to project end-of-season award winners in early October.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — He personally accounted for six of Green Bay’s seven touchdowns in their latest easy victory, a 49-23 trampling of the Broncos. Where would the 4-0 Packers be without Rodgers, who leads the league quite handily with a 124.6 passer rating?
Offensive player of the year: Calvin Johnson, Lions — I realize that Tom Brady and Wes Welker are on pace to shatter some records and Rodgers has been off the charts, but Johnson has eight friggin’ touchdown receptions in four games. That’s the wildest pace of them all.
Defensive player of the year: Charles Woodson, Packers — The only touchdown not accounted for by Rodgers in the Green Bay blowout Sunday? Woodson’s pick six — the 2009 defensive player of the year has been a game-changer in Green Bay’s defensive backfield. Although at this point, it’s quite a tight race between Woodson, Haloti Ngata, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen and even Sean Lee.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — That 8.5 yards-per-attempt number is the best indicator of the impact he’s had on the Carolina offense already. But if Julio Jones and A.J. Green keep this up, it’s going to become impossible to pick just one offensive rook.
Defensive rookie of the year: Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins — They’re already calling the lethal Brian Orakpo/Ryan Kerrigan duo “Kerrakpo” in DC. The No. 16 overall pick out of Purdue has 2.5 sacks, a pick, two forced fumbles and a touchdown. Denver’s Von Miller has joined the race, though, with four sacks in as many games.
Comeback player of the year: D’Qwell Jackson, Browns — A bit of an off week with only five tackles and no big plays against Tennessee, but no one else has emerged to steal this away.
Coach of the year: Mike Munchak, Titans — One year after Jeff Fisher dealt with all of that unrest in Tennessee, Munchak has his guys gelling perfectly despite the lockout and the limited preparation time he had prior to the season. Chan Gailey deserves some love for what he’s done in Buffalo, but I can’t believe the Titans are 3-1 — a lot of smart people predicted in the summertime that no team would be hit harder by the work stoppage than the Titans.
Executive of the year: Rick Smith, Texans — Wade Phillips’ defense has been living up to expectations and the team’s top two free agents, Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, have paid off.