MMQB Mail: Handing out awards through NFL season's first quarter
Two rookie leaders top the list for Coach Of The Year
Darrelle Revis and Elvis Dumervil have dominated so far
Note on Jared Allen's star showing on 'MNF' and mailbag answers
MINNEAPOLIS -- With 28 of the 32 NFL teams finished with a quarter of their seasons, let's hand out some early hardware. Of course, things can change pretty quickly in this league. Last year, Trent Edwards was my NFL MVP through Week 4, and Jim Zorn the coach. So I'd sprinkle quite a few grains of salt on these awards.
Most Valuable Player
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts.
While the Colts get used to a new coach, new defense and three important new offensive parts, Manning is playing as well as he ever has. In his illustrious 12-year career, he's never opened a season with four straight 300-yard games, as he has this year. The 4-0 Colts will go as far as he takes them.
Coach Of The Year
1. Josh McDaniels, Broncos.
This one doesn't seem very hard. I pick Childress to round out the top three because he made the gutsy move -- which I criticized -- of going out on a limb to talk Favre into playing when he wasn't confident he could make it through a season healthy, at 40. But Favre has won one game, maybe two, that the Tarvaris Jackson Vikes wouldn't have. At the top, McDaniels, as I explained Monday in MMQB, is a lock.
Assistant Coach Of The Year
1. Mike Nolan, defensive coordinator, Broncos.
Lots of deserving candidates, and it's clear why Nolan and Williams are far and away the leaders on this list. Scarnecchia is here not because of long and meritorious service; this is his 26th season as a Patriots assistant. It's because New England had a major protection problem that Scarnecchia and the staff worked on, and the past two weeks, against one very good defense (Baltimore) and one middling one (Atlanta), the troops kept Brady mostly clean.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year
1. Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets.
When receivers Julian Edelman (New England), Kenny Britt (Tennessee), Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh) and Johnny Knox (Chicago), and left tackle Eugene Monroe of the Jaguars don't make the top three, you know it's a good year for rookies. I give a premium to a quarterback who steps into a difficult situation (starting opening day, in New York no less, and winning) and performs.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year
1. James Laurinaitis, LB, Rams.
It's not hard to shine on an awful team, and Laurinaitis is going to have to weather a couple of years of stormy weather in St. Louis. But he's been the defensive playcaller since day three of camp, and he's on pace to be the kind of heart-of-the-defense player Barrett Ruud is in Tampa and DeMeco Ryans is in Houston.
Offensive Player Of The Year
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts.
Adrian Peterson will be back in contention before the end of the year, but the Monday-nighter knocked a little of the shine off his star. For now. Manning is far and away the best player.
Defensive Player Of The Year
1. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets.
Revis held Andre Johnson and Randy Moss to eight soft catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2 and is the shutdown corner that a bold and aggressive defense Rex Ryan has to have. Dumervil's the oddest-looking pass-rusher, at 5-foot-11 and 260 pounds, I've ever seen, but he has rare quickness and he's tied for the NFL with eight sacks. Dumervil's a legitimate threat to get 20 in a defense built to feature him.
Free Agent Of The Year
1. Darren Sharper, FS, Saints.
Sharper told me Sunday that he seriously considered signing with the Steelers and old college teammate Mike Tomlin early in free-agency, but then New Orleans got into the picture and Sean Payton told him, "We just need a couple more pieces on defense, and you're a big one.'' Tomlin agreed that New Orleans was a better spot for Sharper, and so he went. He's the NFL interceptions leader with five after four games.
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