November 18, 2017, 0:23

NFL mid-season awards: Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kareem Hunt take the honours

NFL mid-season awards: Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kareem Hunt take the honours

Eight weeks in, we’re at the mid-season mark of the NFL season.

So, with that in mind, it’s time to dish out some more awards, and it’s Neil Reynolds and Shaun Gayle once again doing the honours.

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Will their mid-season selections different wildly from winners at the 1/4 season mark? Here’s a look at their picks…

Offensive MVP

1/4 season winner: Kareem Hunt
Honourable mentions: Alex Smith, Tom Brady

Neil Reynolds: For me, Carson Wentz is now top of the pile! He has emerged and joined that group of players to be talking about – Hunt, Smith, Brady. I’ve been very impressed, he has grown a lot, and he is getting the job done in pressure situations. There’d be Deshaun Watson in the mix now too. But, I’m going for Wentz.

Shaun Gayle: I’m sticking with Kareem Hunt. But, you have to take your hat off to the Philadelphia Eagles and what they’re doing with Wentz, and Watson is absolutely in the conversation. He has this air about him that he is utterly fearless. But Hunt is still my No 1.

Defensive MVP

1/4 season winner: Calais Campbell (NR), Von Miller (SG)

NR: Calais Campbell still for me. He is up to 10 sacks now and the Jacksonville Jaguars are just dominant on defense. A lot of their turnovers won in the secondary have come courtesy of being so strong up front.

He is playing like a man among boys and is comfortably the single best offseason signing any team has made in the NFL this year. I’d also throw Everson Griffen of the Minnesota Vikings into the mix – he has had a sack in every game so far this season – and possibly Demarcus Lawrence of the Dallas Cowboys, who is getting stuff done.

SG: I’m sticking with my pick too, Von Miller. Circumstances have changed a bit in Denver, with the Broncos now struggling at the midway point of the season.

But, when it comes down to it, there’s still such fear in the eyes of any offensive tackle when they realise they have to block him! He brings an element to this game that changes the way an offense has to perform philosophically. If you do that, you deserve the credit.

Rookie MVP

Despite being on the losing side, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson starred against the Seahawks, throwing four touchdowns.

1/4 season winner: Kareem Hunt
Honourable mention: Deshaun Watson

NR: I’m a ‘what have you done for me lately’ guy, so on that basis I’m just going to give Deshaun Watson the edge over Hunt. He has been just outstanding for the Houston Texans.

I watched him on the sidelines at the end of the crazy 41-39 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks – he was distraught at losing that game, but I just thought ‘you’re going to be fine’. He will be in the playoffs, in contention for titles. I think he is that special!

SG: I’ve given hunt the overall offensive MVP award, so I’ll share it out and say Watson too. The ability to carry a team is something usually reserved for guys with the last name Marino, Montana. For a young kid to do what he is doing – like in a hostile environment in Seattle – is incredible. There were teams that took a pass on this guy in the draft. To me, that indicates that you cannot measure heart.

Surprise package

1/4 season winner: Los Angeles Rams
Honourable mention: Jared Goff
Dishonourable mention: New England Patriots defense

NR: My surprise is the New York Giants. They were a playoff team a year ago and now sit 1-7. I know they’ve had injuries, but even before Odell Beckham Jr went down, Brandon Marshall went down, things were going south for the Giants. A backward step from last year would have seen them join the middle of the pack, but they’re nowhere near – they’re terrible!

SG: For me, it’s Neil’s team, the Miami Dolphins. Sure, they’ve got a winning record at 4-3, but they’re my pick due to the state you find this organisation in – strange decisions like bringing in Jay Cutler at quarterback, trading away Jay Ajayi. I don’t think anyone else in the league understands it. Things are not good in Miami.

Top head coach

1/4 season winner: Sean McVay
Honourable mentions: Vance Joseph, Sean McDermott

NR: Sean McVay, for me, is still coach of the year so far. You want a new coach to change a team’s culture and he has energised that team. He is so creative – an offensive whizkid – and the connection between him and second-year QB Jared Goff is clear to see, plus he has got Todd Gurley back playing at his very best. I’d also say Doug Pederson is up there due to the great job he is doing with the 7-1 Eagles.

SG: McVay for me too. Though I’ve got to say a special word for Hue Jackson at the Cleveland Browns. Anyone coaching the Browns deserves a medal! You know what you’re getting yourself in for. Joking aside, this actually speaks to the greatness of Bill Belichick – he is the only coach to go down there and survive, resurface.

On the hot seat?

1/4 season winner: Ben McAdoo
Honourable mentions: John Fox, Younghoe Koo (kicker)

NR: I’m actually not going to go for a coach or a player this time; Sashi Brown, executive vice president of the Browns. With every touchdown pass thrown by Wentz and Watson, people are reminded that Cleveland were actually in a position to pick both of them and chose not to, trading out of those picks. They didn’t want either. That’s got to fall on the coach Jackson a little too, but Brown is ultimately the man responsible.

SG: The press in New York is brutal, and so I’m sticking with Ben McAdoo. He is not just feeling heat from the hot seat, but all around him – it’s an oven! The Giants as an organisation traditionally stick with their coaches and are not ones for knee-jerk reactions, but the failure of this team is hard to ignore. You don’t invest that much money on defense, and have that many offensive stars, to have this record.

Super Bowl teams?

1/4 season winner: Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers (NR), Chiefs v Carolina Panthers (SG)
Honourable mentions: Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers

NR: It really is a wide-open season. It’s fantastic to see the Eagles emerge, the Chiefs making a real statement, and the Steelers will be there or thereabouts. But, it’s all about pedigree in the NFL, so I can’t look past it being the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

SG: It’s hard to argue with that. The Chiefs so often find a way to blow it in the playoffs, and similarly, with the Eagles it has been such a long time since they made it to the Super Bowl. It’s hard to pick against a Belichick coached team, so I’ll say the Patriots will be there but, as for the NFC, I’m going to take a shot – why not? – the Eagles!

We’ll check back in with Shaun and Neil at the 3/4 mark of the season to see if their award choices evolve even further over the course of the campaign…

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