We're now eight weeks into the season and it's about that time to dish out the ROTB mid-season awards. The Cardinals have had an up and down season and have had their problems with consistency, but regardless of all that they're first in the NFC West with a 5-3 record. The offense has failed to live up to last year's expectations, but after last weeks crushing defeat over the Chicago bears, there's new hope for this unit. The defense on the other had, has more then exceeded expectations and they are rolling with Bill Davis at defensive coordinator. The Cardinals are an ever-improving team with playoffs in their sights, but for now let's see who wins ROTB mid-season awards.
Best Offensive Player: Larry Fitzgerald
Should this really be a surprise? Fitzgerald may be having a disappointing year to some after the bar was set a mile high in the playoffs last year, but Larry has remained composed and professional through it all. After a slow start to the season, Fitzgerald has quietly climbed back into the ranks of the top 5 receiving stats, and continues to perform week in and week out. Another hurdle that Larry has made is beating the so-called "Madden Curse". Most players that have appeared on the cover of the popular game in the last few years have received a significant injury. Perhaps that could go to Troy Polamalu, who also appeared on the cover with Fitzgerald, and who was injured in week 1.
2009 Stats - 56 Receptions, 632 Yards, 11.3 Average, 7 Touchdowns
Best Defensive Player: Darnell Dockett
Darnell Dockett is one of the leaders on defense, and his constant disruption of the opponents offensive line won't always show on the records, but the effort that Nine O puts forth on every play makes a significant difference on defense. Dockett can play the run and get in the backfield like the best of them, and hasn't had a problem making himself a household name. When he hasn't been on the field, it's obvious that opposing teams can move the ball much easier. Dockett is one of the most important keys on the defense.
2009 Stats - 26 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 7 Tackles for a loss
Most Improved Player: Tim Hightower
Tim Hightower has followed up a fairly average rookie season with an improved sophomore year. At times, Hightower doesn't even look like he's in his second year, and often appears to be an 8 year veteran. His pass blocking has greatly improved, but more importantly are his receiving skills. Hightower is currently second on the team with 40 receptions and has been dependable if Warner is unable find an open receiver. It's obvious that Hightower was able to learn more from Edgerrin James then we thought, and it's showed so far this year.
2009 Stats - 283 Rushing yards, 5 Touchdowns, 40 Catches, 307 Yards
Biggest Surprise: Calais Campbell
I don't want to say it's a surprise, but nobody knew what Campbell would do this season. After Antonio Smith left via free agency, second year man Calais Campbell was left to fill his roster spot. He's greatly surpassed what was expected, and has been a force at defensive end so far this year. He's already second on the team with three sacks, and currently has two blocked field goals. Campell's relentless and athletic football skills are something that Cardinals fans will look forward to for a long time.
2009 Stats - 28 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 4 Passes defended, 2 Blocked kicks
Biggest Disappointment: Anquan Boldin
After coming off a pro bowl year and entering his 7th season as a Cardinal, Boldin stated himself that he would turn it on and have his best season yet. Anything but that has happened as he's statistically projected to have his worst season since he's been in Arizona. He's also been dealing with injuries, which have caused him to be at less then 100% the majority of the season. Perhaps the biggest disappointment has been when Anquan lashed out on coach Whisenhunt this past week, saying he wasn't "man enough" to tell him he'd been deactivated. I hope I'm wrong and he proves otherwise, but right now 2009 has been a disappointment for Boldin.
2009 Stats - 35 Receptions, 404 Yards, 11.5 Average, 1 Touchdown
Best Rookie: Beanie Wells
With Cody Brown lost for the year, the only other significant rookies this year have been Greg Toler and LaRod Stephens-Howling, who primarily play on special teams. Wells finally came on three weeks ago against the New York Giants when he scored his first touchdown. He brings explosive play to the offense, and his down-field running compliments the Cardinals pass attack perfectly. Wells hasn't started a game yet, but may take over duties by the end of the season.
2009 Stats - 310 Rushing yards, 4.4 Average, 1 TD
That's it for the mid-season awards. Naming an MVP right now was too difficult for me, so I'll open the poll to see who the ROTB community wants. I think it may be easier once the season is over to see where this team is headed, but who knows. One thing I can say is that it's much easier to hand out awards when the Cardinals are 5-3 and currently in 1st place in the division. Who are you award winners and why?