INDIANAPOLIS — Halfway through the NFL’s regular season is not the time to hand out awards.
I will say this. If the Indianapolis Colts play their final eight games at or above the level in which they performed during the first eight, the bed of a pickup truck will be needed to pick up and transport all the shiny hardware.
Most Valuable Player
Reggie Wayne. Remove Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, Tom Brady from the Patriots, Frank Gore from the 49ers and Matt Ryan from the Falcons, and those are still talented teams. No longer are they necessarily Super Bowl contenders, but all four remain a quality product.
Take the 12th-year wide receiver away from the Colts, particularly early on when rookies Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen were getting their feet wet, and Indianapolis isn’t close to emerging as the league’s surprise club.
Wayne turns 34 next week, but he’s proving ageless with 63 receptions for 835 yards. We all oohed and aahed in 2010 when Wayne finished with career-best sums in receptions (111) and yards (1,355), but he’s on pace this season to go for 126 and 1,670 yards, astronomical statistics even for the five-time Pro Bowl selection.
Only one receiver in league history has been named MVP (Jerry Rice in 1987), an award almost always given to a quarterback. Right now it appears to be Wayne’s to lose.
Rookie of the Year
Andrew Luck. Every time I think this guy has hit his rookie ceiling, he performs even better the next time out. Some of his completions against the Dolphins were total OMGers, subtle flicks of the wrist on some occasions, and absolute frozen ropes into traffic on others.
The way Luck moves laterally in the pocket to avoid contact is almost worth the price of admission just by itself. His innate knowledge of when to step up as opposed to stepping left or right is amazing. Only 23, he already looks like he’s been in the league for five years.
Oh, and he’s on a pace to throw for 4,800 yards this season.
Much as I respect the God-given gifts of RGIII, Indianapolis handed the keys to the offense to the right guy. And, boy, does he like cruise control.
Coach of the Year
Bruce Arians. For years one of the NFL’s most admired assistant coaches, Arians is the glue that binds the league’s most surprising team.
Arians had always hoped for a head coaching position, but didn’t want it the way it happened with close friend Chuck Pagano forced to take an indefinite leave of absence to focus his energies on his fight against leukemia.
Arians couldn’t help but shed tears the day word came down that Pagano was ill. Moreover, this team had any number of excuses to fail — “Our coach isn’t here ... We start five rookies on offense ... Our heart just isn’t in it” — but would have none of it.
Indianapolis not only looks like a playoff team, it’s beginning to resemble a tough out. These were words Colts fans weren’t supposed to hear for another three or four years and here we are using them now.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal, a sister paper to The Republic. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.