It's midseason awards season - a time honored tradition once used to fill column inches now sweeping the web and it's constant appetite for content. All kidding aside, for the Rams, it seems like it's beena full season already, with the changes and up and down nature of the team through 8.
Since it's just one team we're talking about, there's not too many awards to give out, so we'll add a few of our own. And I'll admit, after last week's game it's hard to give out any awards, but let's try it nonetheless.
Starting with the basics...
Offensive MVP: Steven Jackson, RB Indicative of the team itself, Jackson has been inconsistent, and is playing far from expectations, his and ours. However, he is on pace for better numbers than last year, when he played only 12 games. Jackson led the way in the Rams upset of the Cowboys, and eventhough the Redskins limited his yardage, he factored into the win by at least helping the Rams control the ball on offense. Had Donnie Avery been involved in the offense as heavily as he is now, he might have locked this thing up.
Defensive MVP: O. J. Atogwe, FS The Rams boast several players on this side of the ball worthy of consideration for our midseason phony MVP award. Leonard Little, Chris Long, James Hall, but it's really a decision between LB Pisa Tinoisamoa and Atogwe, with Atogwe getting the nod thanks to his 4 INTs and a TD on his fumble recovery that helped the Rams upset the Redskins.
Rookie of the Year: Chris Long, DE This is one to debate, as it could easily be Donnie Avery here. I probably should have broken it out offense and defense, but since we're just talking about one team... After struggling with the defense early on, Long has really grown into his role, playing both sides of the line, executing well in either spot, showing excellent field vision and putting up an impressive 4 sacks and 28 tackles. Why not Avery? I think because the offense as a unit has suffered so much from poor play, it dragged down Avery's case.
Best Free Agent Addition: Josh Brown, K There's really no argument here.
Biggest surprise from the 2008 draft: Donnie Avery, WR Only the most wild eyed optimists predicted Avery would grab a starting role and run with it like he has. Wide receivers, typically, take a couple seasons to adjust to the pro level; if Avery's still adjusting, can you imagine what kind of player he'll be next season? Imagine if the Rams had some, you know, pass protection...Scary.
Free Agent Bust: Jacob Bell, G "Bust" is a bit of a stretch in my mind, but the Rams did give him a pretty good contract and the interior o-line is no better than it was last season with its parade of retreads. As I said before though, one player's impact on the o-line is dramatically altered by the level of play around him, and Bell's hurt by Nick Leckey to his right and a slowed Orlando Pace to his left. Look no further than this week's opponent The Jets for proof: C Nick Mangold is a stud, but the Jets had a bottom 10 O-line in run blocking and were even worse than the Rams in pass protection last season. This season, The Jets have a top 5 o-line in run blocking and sit the league's top half for pass protection, thanks to the beefed up presence of G Alan Faneca. Bell will get better if the Rams make good moves to address their o-line, for now, he gets this dubious honor.
Anti-MVP: Nick Leckey, C This is a tough one, because there are plenty of players not playing well but few consistently hurt the Rams with the presence on the field. Leckey has done yeoman's work, but is over his head as a starter. There are plenty of people arguing for Bulger's head right now. It's hard to blame Bulger when he's been the victim of a porous o-line for long. Dante Hall would be another candidate for this.