With five weeks now completed, the 2012 NFL Season is almost one-third of the way into the books.
There have been a lot of pleasant surprises, with teams like the Vikings getting off to much better starts than expected. Other teams, like the one-win Saints and Green Bay Packers, have been disappointing.
The season still has a long way to go, but a few players have stood out in the first month of play. Here are some early individual awards, in our estimation, for the 2012 NFL Season:
MVP: Matt Ryan
The quarterback has taken his play to a new level this year. He’s been a winner since he entered the league in 2008, but Ryan’s never put up stats like this. Among starters, he’s in the top three in the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating.
Most importantly, Ryan leads a team that may be the best in the league. The Atlanta Falcons are one of just two undefeated teams left. It looks like this will finally be the year that Ryan leads his team to a playoff victory.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
The second-year player is having one of the most dominant seasons from a defensive player in recent memory. He’s first with 8.5 sacks through just five games, and third in the league with eight pass deflections, an incredible number for a defensive lineman.
The Texans are one of the best defensive units in the NFL, and Watt is the biggest reason. He disrupts opposing defenses, and knocks down passes when he’s unable to get a sack. Houston might have at least one loss this season were it not for their star defensive end.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III
The second overall pick in April’s draft has surprised many with his stellar play, thus far. Griffin has outperformed Andrew Luck, posting a quarterback rating 24 points higher and throwing for a much better completion percentage.
Griffin III hasn’t only been good by rookie standards. His 101 quarterback rating is fifth among starters, and he’s kept the Redskins very competitive. At 2-3, Washington has yet to lose a game by more than one score.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chandler Jones
The first-round pick out of Syracuse has made an immediate impact on the Patriots defense. Second among rookies with three sacks, Jones has helped wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. His 18 tackles and two forced fumbles are also very high among defensive ends.
New England’s defense is much improved from a year ago, and part of that can be attributed to the role Jones has played. His play upfront has helped mask a lot of the team’s deficiencies in the secondary.
Coach of the Year: Ken Whisenhunt
The Cardinals have been the biggest surprise of the young season. Arizona isn’t one of the league’s two undefeated teams but they’ve had one of the more impressive starts at 4-1.
Whisenhunt has led a group to the top of the NFC West with limited weapons at his disposal. The Cardinals defense has played well, but they’ve won despite instability at quarterback. The head coach has done a good job of managing Kevin Kolb, and putting him in positions where he can help Arizona succeed.