Midseason report (cont.)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER -- Tom Brady, QB, New England: With Randy Moss taking his Hall of Fame act elsewhere, Brady is back to winning with smoke and mirrors once again. In this case, the smoke is named Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the mirrors are Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and rookie Aaron Hernandez. Nobody does more with less than Brady, whose 12 touchdowns, four interceptions and 96.6 passer rating don't tell the whole story.
Kudos to: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- Roddy White, WR, Atlanta: Not only is White leading all NFL pass-catchers with 54 catches for 747 yards and five touchdowns, but also he's basically the only receiving threat Atlanta has other than tight end Tony Gonzalez. With more than 106 receiving yards per game, White is doing as much of the heavy lifting as anyone else on offense for the first-place Falcons.
Kudos to: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- Clay Matthews, LB, Packers: There are a lot of closely bunched defensive stalwarts this season, but Matthews, in just seven games, has an NFL-high 9½ sacks, with a forced fumble as well. A hamstring injury has slowed him at times, but no one has found a way to consistently stop him this season. His twin three-sack showings against the Eagles and Bills got Green Bay's season off to a 2-0 start.
Kudos to: James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh.
COACH OF THE YEAR -- Todd Haley, Chiefs: Haley, along with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, has changed the losing culture in Kansas City in less than two seasons, and that's the toughest job an NFL coach faces. That Haley is a first-time head coach makes it even more impressive. Despite winning just 10 games in the past three years, Kansas City is already halfway to that total this year in just seven games. The Chiefs are in line to chase their first division title since 2003 in the season's second half.
Kudos to: Bill Belichick, New England.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: Bradford doesn't have glitzy statistics, but what his presence has meant to the resurgent Rams is as obvious as the horns on their helmets. He has given St. Louis the chance to win this season, and they're 4-4, already topping the franchise's victory total from the last two seasons combined (three). Bradford has a receiving corps of no-names, and he's getting better by the week. St. Louis started 0-2, but has won four of six.
Kudos to: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions: With 6½ sacks, one interception, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown in just seven games, Suh could sit out the rest of the season and probably still win the defensive rookie award. The man has brought an attitude and an intensity to Detroit's defense that was sorely lacking, and he already routinely sees double-team blocking.
Kudos to: Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- E.J. Henderson, LB, Vikings: There are a bunch of good comeback stories of varying shapes and sizes in the NFL this season, but it's hard to overlook the accomplishment of Henderson merely stepping foot back on the field after suffering his gruesome broken femur last December in a game against Arizona. And Henderson isn't just playing, he's making an impact for a Vikings defense that has played better than the team's vaunted offense.
Kudos to: Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks.
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: In this third year, McFadden has finally stayed semi-healthy and started to produce numbers worthy of his top-five draft slot in 2008. His 111.3 rushing yards per game leads all NFL running backs, and he has 885 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in just six games of action. With the Raiders running game in good hands, Oakland is 4-4 and playing meaningful games at this time of year for the first time since its Super Bowl season of 2002.
Kudos to: Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver.
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR -- Perry Fewell, defensive coordinator, Giants: New York head coach Tom Coughlin made the right hire when he locked up the former Bills interim head coach/D-coordinator. New York's pass rush has been restored to its previous ferocity, and that has been the key to the Giants' current four-game winning streak and rise to first place in the NFC East.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR -- Scott Pioli, general manager, Chiefs: Kansas City has all the makings of the turnaround story of the year in the NFL, and Pioli's handprints are all over the Chiefs' renaissance. The team's 2010 draft has a chance to be a cornerstone-type class, and the work of newly hired coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis have quickly paid off as well.
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