We’ve passed the quarter mark in the 2012-13 season, and there has been many surprises and disappointments throughout. Things are churning well for some teams, for others they feel like they can’t wait for the season to end already.
Here’s a list of my quarterly awards this far into the season.
First off, I have to send my apologizes to Vikings fans. Before the season started I gave the Vikings a 3-13 record and a top-five pick in next years draft. They’ve already met those three wins, and it starts at the top. Entering the season the Vikings looked like a team that would be building with a young quarterback and questions on defense. Leslie Frazier has taken this team to a level that not many expected. Mentioned already was Christian Ponder – in his second year the offense is clicking for him and he’s completing an amazing 70% of his passes while being the only quarterback in the league that has not thrown an interception. The next hurdle for the team was Adrian Peterson, it was unknown if he’d be able to play in the first six weeks of the season, but Frazier and staff pulled him from the PUP list and he’s been a force to be reckoned with as he has been in the past. The offensive line had a complete overhaul. Minus the starting center, the line is all new guys to the offense. Defensively the Vikings are a in the top-ten and have done a great job on shutting down the likes of Calvin Johnson and Frank Gore on their way to a 3-1 record, tied for first in the powerful NFC North. Leslie Frazier has done a great job with this football team.
The Patriots had the second-to-last ranked defense in the league last season and it’s a big reason why they suffered their second Super Bowl loss in five years. It was evident that Hoodie Bill and Co. knew it needed to be fixed entering the season and they entered the draft with a defensive mindset. Of their two first-round selections, they drafted Chandler Jones out of Syracuse. He’s been a wrecking ball in the Pats vastly improved defense while sacking the opposing quarterback three times, forcing two tackles and accounting for 17 sacks.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, as many expected RGIII has been everything that he was advertised. In the first four weeks of his NFL Career, Griffin has thrown for over 1,000 yards adding four touchdowns and has only thrown one interception while averaging a 103.3 passer rating. He’s also been doing all of this without his number one receiver in Pierre Garcon, who was only available for the first week of the season. So far he’s been the best on offense in the rookie pool.
This might come as a shock to most as many expect to see Peyton Manning in this slot. To me, Peterson’s return is more impressive. We knew Peyton was goign to play, although we didn’t know how well he’d play – we knew he’d be on the field. With Adrian, it was different. It was unknown if Peterson was going to suit up for the Vikings for the first six weeks. He was removed from the PUP list before the start of the season as shockingly suited up for the Vikings season opener just eight months removed from a knee injury that some thought could have been a career ending injury. Peterson has accounted for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season. While those aren’t the numbers we’re used to seeing from AP, the fact that he is even on the field is amazing. Last week he ran for over 100 yards and he’s starting to regain that confidence that made him one of the best backs in the league for a few years straight.
JJ Watt has been a cornerstone of the league’s best overall defense. He not only leads the league in sacks, but he also leads the league in pressures. He runs over offensive lineman like they aren’t even there and he’s in quarterbacks nightmares if they know they’re going to face him. His 7.5 sacks leads the league and along with his 20 tackles he is all over the field. Watt is also one of the best at knocking balls down at the line of scrimmage, causing quarterbacks even more stress in preparation for the Texans defense.
Joe Cool has been just that. The Ravens are on a roll and are viewed as one of the elite teams in the AFC. Going into the season they were one of the Super Bowl favorites, but the one question was the play of the quarterback. Flacco has had a bad rap around the league for some reason, and so far this year he’s silencing the critics. He’s averaging a 95.8 quarterback rating and has thrown for 1,269 yards and seven touchdowns. The Ravens signal caller gets my nod for Offensive Player of the Quarter, and if he can keep it up the Ravens will be an issue for many teams heading into the Playoffs.
Matty Ice is the clear leader in the MVP race, in fact, there is no race, Ryan is winning. His 4-0 Atlanta Falcons are on of the best teams in all of football at the moment, and they have been tested. Ryan leads the league with a 112.1 quarterback rating and has thrown for 1,162 while throwing for 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Ball security and football intelligence has Matt Ryan looking like the best player in the NFL, he’s attacking safeties week in and week out, and making some defenses look foolish. In their match up against the division rival Panthers, Ryan led his team on a game-winning drive that sealed the deal and had the Falcons take a three game lead in the division.