The Award Section
I'd like to thank two people -- Len Pasquarelli of ESPN and Mark Godich of Sports Illustrated -- for talking some sense into me over the past couple of years. Pasquarelli told me to stop naming so many players and coaches and goats of the week, and I said, OK, I'll think about it. Then, after last week, when I had six players sharing offensive and defensive honors, Godich, a former editor of mine at the magazine, e-mailed to tell me I was a foolish ninny, or words to that effect. They're right, of course. I'm going with a max of two in each category the rest of the way, and I'm going to try to keep it to one per category each week. Because I know how meaningful these ritzy awards are to the players and coaches involved.
Offensive Player of the Week
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
When Leon Washington was lost for the season with a broken leg at Oakland, Jets fans re-familiarized themselves with a player from Iowa they'd seen carry the ball only seven times this season. The Jets used most of their draft currency to move up for Mark Sanchez at No. 5, so the team's first pick after him was Greene at 65, at the start of the third round. All Greene did at Oakland was rush 19 times for 144 yards, a 7.6-yard average, with two touchdowns. They'll need him for the rest of the season to take the load off Thomas Jones.
Defensive Player of the Week
Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati
On a day of great defensive performances -- Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather had a two-interception game in London -- Hall's job took top honors because he not only picked off two Jay Cutler passes in Cincinnati's rout of the Bears, but also knocked two more passes away and had seven tackles. The Bengals' secondary is no longer a liability with Hall and Johnathan Joseph a formidable cornerback duo.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Spencer Havner, TE, Green Bay
The third-team tight end had two of the biggest plays, back-to-back, in the Packers' lopsided win at Cleveland. With the Browns up 3-0 early in the second quarter and fellow tight end Jermichael Finley injured, Havner took a pass from Aaron Rodgers and rumbled 45 yards for a touchdown, giving the Pack a lead it would not relinquish. On the next play, the Green Bay kickoff, Havner shed a double-team block by two ineffective Browns and slammed into the best special-teamer alive, return man Josh Cribbs of the Browns, and stopped Cribbs at the Cleveland 30.
Coach of the Week
Dick Jauron, head coach, Buffalo
Meaningless games beckoned earlier this month, with sprouting billboards calling for Jauron's job as the Bills stared at a two-game trip to the Jets and Panthers. During the visit to the Jets, a quarterback from Harvard, Ryan Fitzpatrick, was asked to save a season, and the Bills won in overtime. On Sunday they got past a bad Carolina team in Charlotte. This won't get the billboards overtaken, but the past eight days showed this team still plays for Jauron.
Goat of the Week
JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland
One step forward last week, three steps back this week. On the Raiders' first play, 12 seconds into the game, Russell showed his poor sense of pocket presence again, getting strip-sacked by Calvin Pace. A Jets touchdown soon followed. On the second series, under pressure, Russell made the most ridiculous throw I've seen this year. Jets safety Jim Leonhard stood about three yards past the line of scrimmage, virtually alone, looking for someone to cover, and Russell threw the ball to him as though he were the intended receiver.
Russell completed the trifecta 14 minutes into the game, throwing a pick to Darrelle Revis in the end zone as Oakland drove, trying to salvage a score before the end of of the quarter. Hard to roast him for that one, because Revis made a great play. Still, another bad sign overall that Russell can't be anyone's quarterback of the future.
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis. The shame of the NFL: Manning doesn't throw for 300. First time all year -- and the Colts still win by 35 points.
2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans. "Drew Brees is my MVP so far,'' said Tony Dungy, the man who coached Peyton Manning until last January.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh. Seven weeks, 70 percent passing, six interceptions ... and he's faced significantly more pressure than he thought he'd be seeing.
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota. I assume you saw him run over William Gay of the Steelers on Sunday with the game on the line. That's not a figure of speech. He trucked Gay. Ruined him.
5. Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Denver. I debated over Dumervil or Kyle Orton for this spot. At the beginning of the season, what odds would you have given me that we'd be arguing whether one of the league's most valuable players throught seven weeks would be Orton or Dumervil? Fifty to one? I picked Dumervil here because, with 10 sacks, he's been the irreplaceable key to a defense that's given Denver a chance every week.
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