Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Week 17 Wrap up

Much like the Chargers, Eagles and Ravens, I closed the regular season strong, going 11 and 5 with my Week 17 picks and finishing up at 119-116-7 -- despite being fairly deep in the hole around week ten. Unfortunately the sum of my final tally is 242 and, since I didn't make any picks for week one, it should add up to 240.

So maybe it wasn't such a good idea for me to have mocked Tara Reid for her lack of rudimentary counting skills. But if I went back I suspect I'd have to start rechecking final scores against the final spreads from weeks long ago, and that's not going to happen.

Anyway, I think I know what did happen. Sometime in the middle of the season I noticed that my current record added up to an odd number. Since that's not possible, I lazily and optimistically rounded the total up by one win. So that means my final record is really either 118-115-7 or 117-116-7. Nevertheless, that's still over the 50 percent threshold, and I proudly declare victory in a year when an onslaught of underdog winners terrorized much more experienced handicappers.

But I wasn't the only winner this NFL season. Here is where jsb hands out the hardware for various . . . of the Year awards:

Offensive Player of the Year (MVP) LaDainian Tomlinson
For most of the season Tomlinson and his ex-teammate and good friend New Orleans Saints' Quarterback Drew Brees were running neck and neck for this award, but both faded over the last three weeks. Although they were completely different kinds of declines. The San Diego running back was having the best rushing season in the history NFL between weeks 1 through 14, and his level of play dropped to really good between weeks 15 and 17. On the other hand, Brees played his first 13 games like a potential MVP, and was lousy over his last three. Ultimately, making the Offensive Player of the Year pick a lot easier than it looked like it was going to be in November.

Defensive Player of Year Brian Dawkins
Jason Taylor touched off a controversy when he was quoted saying Shawn Merriman, because he missed four games during the season due to a steroid suspension, shouldn't be considered for Defensive Player of the Year. Jason Taylor is absolutely correct. Giving the award to a convicted steroid abuser is, in a word, ridiculous. Now giving the award to a player like Jason Taylor, who is from a losing team, that's merely silly. Leaving a lot folks picking Denver's shut-down cornerback Champ Bailey. I'll take Brian Dawkins. There are plenty of all-pro level, big-play, hard-hitting safeties in the league, but Dawkins is the only one who can also cover like a cornerback. The Eagles are referring to themselves as zombies for the way they came back from the dead this season. A good chunk of of the credit for the Eagle's resurrection goes to Brian Dawkins, the one Eagle who spent the whole year far away from the graveyard.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Vince Young
Young wins easily, but with one huge caveat: His QB rating of 66.7 absolutely stinks. It was second to last in the league -- between Harrington and Gradowski -- and didn't improve significantly as the year progressed. You can knock the QB rating all you want as a manufactured statistic that doesn't take into account running (or getting sacked, which happens to Vince Young a lot) but the bottom line is good teams always have quarterbacks with good ratings, and the bad teams almost always have QBs with bad ratings. QBs do tend have deflated ratings in their first season although Ben Roethlisberger, the last QB to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, was among the top three in 2004. Big Ben repeated his rating success as a sophomore in 2005, and led his team to a Super Bowl victory. There is going to be a lot of 2007 talk of Vince Young as the "next big thing." He still has a lot of work to do. The NFL always catches up with unorthodox players and statistical anomalies. Now it's up to Young to stay one step ahead by really figuring out the NFL.

Defensive Rookie of the Year The guy the other writers are picking
Huh? It's safe to say I couldn't tell a defensive Rookie of the Year candidate from a secret grave site under Giant Stadium. While they are at it, why don't they just give an award for Offensive Lineman of the Year?

Comeback Player of the Year Chad Pennington
Pennington never had the league's strongest arm. After two major surgeries on his right shoulder, his lack of arm-strength became a punchline. Leading the Jets to an out-of-nowhere 10 and 6 season gives Pennington the last laugh.

Coach of the Year Sean Payton
Has there ever been another example of a rookie coach coming in, almost completely turning the roster over, and morphing his team from a legit laughingstock to a legit contender in only one season? They should hire Payton to head up the rebuilding efforts for all of New Orleans.

Executive of the Year Matt Millen
No matter what you might learn in business school, the number one job of the well-paid executive is not getting fired. Despite Millen's awful record, disastrous draft choices and offensive personality, the Ford family -- who have a lot of experience in business-- flat-out refuse to fire Millen. And that is all I need to know about Millen's incredible skills as an executive.

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