I'm giving my choices for team awards at the halfway point.
MVP: Darrelle Revis
What can you say about Revis this year? The guy has literally cut the field in half for opposing passing attacks. He's completely shut down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens. You can probably count the number of plays he's looked bad on one hand. This blitzing defense leaves corners on an island. Revis seldom has any help. That makes the job he's done even more impressive. It's a lot easier for this coaching staff to take chances when it knows Revis will blanket his man even if the offense picks up a blitz.
Offensive Player of the Half-Year: Thomas Jones
TJ had a bit of a slow start, but that was due in part to teams stacking the box against a rookie quarterback and his line struggling a bit early. He led the AFC in rushing a year ago, and he's on pace to put up even better numbers this season. Now opponents are stacking the box because they have to. Jones' play is going to be a major asset for Mark Sanchez the rest of the season.
Defensive Player of the Half-Year: Revis
Rookie of the Half-Year: Mark Sanchez
There's not a ton of competition here, but Sanchez has been far better and looked way more polished than I expected. He's had two real stinkers against the Saints and Bills. He had one game where he didn't have to do anything against the Raiders. The other five games were all good to very good performances. There's room to improve, mainly in protecting the ball and not locking on to targets. At the end of the day, it's not easy to even be 4-4 with a rookie starting quarterback. He's one of two rookies to beat Bill Belichick. The other, Ben Roethlisberger, has a pair of Super Bowl rings. He led his team from behind twice in the fourth in a hostile venue on national television against the Dolphins a few weeks ago. Sanchez looks like the real deal.
Coach of the Half-Year: Rex Ryan
This award is a competition among coaches on the staff. Mike Westhoff may have gotten this before last week, but Rex has earned it. He's really transformed this defense. A year ago, one of my biggest complaints was the talent on the defense not being utilized properly. No such complaints this year. The Jets are giving up the second fewest yards in the league and the fourth fewest points (and this includes points off special teams and turnovers; it would be even better if we're talking about defensive points), and Rex's well designed schemes have been terrific. He's also instilled a sense of confidence in this team. Sometimes he'll end up with egg on his face for his swagger if the team doesn't perform, but for the first time in a while you get the impression the Jets are expecting to win every time they take the field. He made great adjustments for the second meeting with the Dolphins after they ran all over him the first time. He can improve in his game management, but overall I've been very impressed. This team has built a strong foundation for the long haul with a promising quarterback and a brilliant defensive mind as head coach.
High Point of the Half-Year: Win over New England
I think this win was from a mental standpoint as good as three wins. The Jets talked all week. They went in expecting to win. They kept Tom Brady out of the end zone, off the scoreboard in the second half, and held him under 50% completing the ball. I always got the impression under Herm Edwards and Eric Mangini the Jets were hoping to beat the Pats when the teams played. This time, the Jets expected to win. It was something of a catharsis game. The Pats are a great team. They'll surely beat the Jets in the future, but I get the impression we'll remember this game as the one the Jets finally asserted themselves as legitimate challengers. There was no backup quarterback like last year. You have to love the way the media has played this win off as the Pats not being sharp at the beginning of the year. The reason they weren't sharp was that the Jets outexecuted them.
Low Point of the Half-Year: Loss to Buffalo
You could argue last week's game against Miami. It's surely frustrating to loss a game when the other team can't move the ball on you all game, and their defense can't stop you in the second half. Regardless of whether the Dolphins end the year with a winning record, though, they're a plucky team and a tough out. This loss to Buffalo was totally inexplicable. The Bills had a backup quarterback and lost to Eric Mangini's Browns the week before, even though Cleveland's starting quarterback was 2 for 17. I don't care that Mark Sanchez threw 5 interceptions. They couldn't stop the Jets on the ground, and New York had a 10 point second half lead. Two horrible penalties in overtime really cost the team.
Best Offseason Move: Trading Up for Mark Sanchez
The signing of Bart Scott deserves consideration, but this move was a franchise changer. The book has not been written on Sanchez, but it looks promising. A miss there by Mike Tannenbaum sets the franchise back for years. It doesn't look that way right now. The Jets look like they have a quarterback, and that move could set the team up to contend for a long time.
Worst Offseason Move: Trading for Lito Sheppard
The book on Sheppard is that he's talented, but he can't stay on the field. That's why the Eagles never gave him the big deal he was seeking. That's played out so far this year. While Lito has looked good, he's played in under half the games. Not only that, but Dwight Lowery, a cheaper internal option during the offseason, has looked good in his place. I'm not giving up on Lito. Don't take it that way. It's just if the Jets had known this, they probably consider holding onto the Draft picks and the money from the new contract and just hand Lowery the starting job.
Most Improved Player: Sione Pouha
One thing that stuck out to me even before Kris Jenkins' injury was how much better Pouha was playing at the point of attack. Last year, he was consistently losing matchups, and the run defense took a hit once Jenkins left the field. This year, Pouha has been much stouter and done a good job demanding double teams. If he continues to improve the rest of the way, this team still has a chance to do things this season. His play is a credit to the coaching staff. Rex was known for the way he maximized the output of his stars in Baltimore, but there's been a stark improvement in the play of guys like Pouha, Mike Devito, and Eric Smith (and the development of Jamaal Westerman) with this new regime.
Most Disappointing Player: Kerry Rhodes
Kerry was supposed to play the Ed Reed role on this defense. He was supposed to be all over the place making plays. Jim Leonhard taking over making calls was supposed to free him up. I can't remember too many impact plays Kerry has made this season. In 2006 and 2007, he was a play making machine. He hasn't been the same guy since he got his contract.
Agree? Disagree? What awards did I miss? Let me know below.