I know it's only been 7 games for the Jets, but we're reasonably halfway through the season and we've seen enough I believe to give a proper evaluation of how our players have done this year.
On that note I would like to present my first annual "Midseason Awards" - titles bestowed on the players and moves that have made us cheer and boo the loudest online and from our couches whenever we watch the team play. These awards also reflect the outcome of what we've seen - not what we've hoped, or expect to see.
Winners with explanations after the jump.
Most Improved Offensive Player - Matt Slauson
If you're an offensive lineman it's an extremely good sign when nobody mentions your play at all during or after a game. Last year we all thought that Slauson would have a tough time replacing Alan Faneca, and he has to a degree - in the running game. But in pass protection Slauson has been stellar, he hasn't been flagged all year (something that even Mangold, Moore and Brick can't claim), and he has proven in the last two years that he could probably be a starter for any other team in the league.
Most Improved Defensive Player - Kyle Wilson
I simply cannot take anyone seriously who says that Wilson's rookie season was anything above average. If you're a 1st round pick that people are calling the 2nd-best CB in the draft (even though you were the 4th one drafted) you have to prove that you can at least be a #2 corner, and he didn't do that last year. That being said, Wilson has really developed into an excellent #3 - tackles very well in space, can cover some of the fastest receivers on the opposing team, and can even get to the QB on a blitz. I'm disappointed with his ineffectiveness on ST, but there's enough depth there for Wilson to stick with coverage.
Least Improved Offensive Player - Mark Sanchez
We were all relieved that there was no "Sophomore Slump," but to be honest, if having numerous Pro Bowl, All-Pro, and game changing players as your weapons doesn't make you more efficient, more accurate and more willing to throw the ball deep, what can? I will never blame an O-Line for a QBs problems because plenty of QBs are able to play great with awful protection. Is he a legitimate starter at QB? - of course he is. Has he played to his drafted potential? - not yet.
Least Improved Defensive Player - Eric Smith
If Smith hasn't reached his ceiling yet, then we really can't afford to wait much longer. If he has, why is he still starting over the much more athletic Brodney Pool? We don't need 2 Run Stoppers in the secondary in this day and age - this isn't the 1950s. We need coverage for those fast wide receivers and athletic TEs. If brains is the only thing Smith brings to the table, he deserves a headset, not a starting job.
Most Frustrating Offensive Player - Wayne Hunter
It's hard to replace a Pro Bowl caliber RT like Damien Woody. That being said Hunter has struggled so much on the O-Line that it is shameful. Penalties, missed assignments, lost blocks - what else needs to be said? There's been improvement, but Sanchez needs better protection than what Hunter has offered.
Most Frustrating Defensive Player - Antonio Cromartie
We thought when we traded for Cromartie that we were either getting a 2nd shutdown corner or an athlete who chose football as his sport. As luck would have it, we were all half right. Sometimes you get Good Cro, sometimes Bad Crow. You might as well flip a coin. Maybe the pressure is on him more because nobody throws to Revis without paying for it, but he needs to play smashmouth football, not playmaking football.
Best FA Acquisition, Offense - Plaxico Burress
Could Braylon Edwards have done what Burress has done so far? Probably. Maybe even better. But Edwards wasn't going to stay without a big contract, something Burress was not in the position to ask for. Put it this way: Would you rather have a used Toyota Camry and money to put in the bank, or empty the bank to buy a Bentley? The Jets chose the more efficient route and the investment has paid dividends.
Best FA Acquisition, Defense - Aaron Maybin
Considering how few players the Jets picked up for the defense there weren't many nominees. That being said, the Jets took a minimal risk by taking a Bills bust at a fraction of what the team paid Vernon Gholston, and in less than 4 games he already has 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. I don't know if that says more about the Bills coaching ineptitude or Vernon Gholston's utter lack of work ethic, but I'm glad to have Maybin in a Jets jersey.
Best Offseason Decision, Offense - Re-signing Santonio Holmes
A playmaker in every sense of the word. Great hands and a great route runner - if you're not sure, go back to the SD game and watch the touchdown that got called back by a Mangold penalty. He may not be Larry Fitzgerald, but he deserves every dime of that big contract. Thank heavens for drug arrests or we never would have landed this guy.
Best Offseason Decision, Defense - Not signing Nnamdi Asomugha
I don't care what people say about the defensive scheme difference for the Eagles. The best players in the league should be able to excel in any system. Asomugha was beaten fair and square by Giant WR Victor Cruz for a critical touchdown. Enough said.
Worst Offseason Move, Offense - Signing Derrick Mason
No production. And honestly, the "80/90 catch" proclamation might be the first time that Rex made a statement that he didn't come close to backing up. I'm ashamed of Mason.
Worst Offseason Move, Defense - Letting Shaun Ellis walk
We need a veteran that young players look up to for guidance. If the Patriots WANTED Ellis to have better stats they'd give him more snaps. If Ellis was a starter he'd play like one.
Best Rookie - Muhammad Wilkerson
Has done everything the team wanted from him - rush the passer, stuff the run and occupy blockers. He has the makings of a solid starter for years to come.
Comeback Player - Jim Leonhard
It's nice to see no significant change in Leonhard's gameplay after the leg injury he suffered last season.
Best Coach - Mike Westhoff
If there's one team that has made the best of the new kickoff rules it's the Jets. You can count the number of plays taken out of the endzone that have gone past the 20 with one hand. It's a damn shame that this is his last year with the team.
In the Dallas game both of them came up huge in the clutch. Since then McKnight has been outstanding in the return game and Folk has been excellent in the kicking game. In spite of all the negative press they received because of their inconsistency in training camp or the regular season, this year they are both playing at an elite level on ST.
Offensive MVP - Nick Mangold
The protection differences between the games where he was out and the games he was in are incredible. The team is 3-1 in games where Mangold plays all the snaps and 1-2 in games he isn't. Nick Mangold's presence is the difference between winning and losing, the difference between Sanchise and Off-The-Mark Sanchez.
Defensive MVP - Darrelle Revis
Revis is more dominant at his own position than any other player in the league - Brady and Polomalu not excluded. Yes he struggled against Wes Welker and Brandon Marshall, both excellent players and Pro Bowlers. Now that we've seen the entire list of people Revis has struggled against, let's look at the list player's he's dominated: Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Anquan Boldin, the entire Raiders and Jaguars WR corps, and Vincent Jackson. And that's in just 7 games.
Midseason Team MVP - Darrelle Revis
Take every reason mentioned above and then add the fact that he's single handedly changed the outcome of 3 games we easily could have lost. Forget Team MVP, Revis is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year with his play this season.