Written by Brendan Annelly
It's been a strange 2013 for the New England Patriots. The only thing that remains the same is that they're winning, with a 6-2 record at the halfway point of the season.
The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the offseason have had a big effect on this team, but there's no other team who could handle it better than the Patriots. Looking at individual players is harder. Despite the teams record, there aren't many players who have consistently shined, whether that's due to injury or otherwise.
But lets give it a look anyway, here are the PatriotsLife midseason awards.
Aqib Talib - Honestly, this could have gone to Tom Brady. But there's no denying Talib's impact after a full off season with the team. Whether it's Jimmy Graham, AJ Gree or Julio Jones, Talib has taken the best receiver on the other team, and taken him out of the game. In the pass happy NFL, a shutdown corner is crucial. And, when healthy, Talib has won us games. And that's why he's the MVP.
Editor's Pick: Aqib Talib is the only choice here. He's been the team's best player and impacted every game he's been in by both shutting down top receivers and grabbing key interceptions. The team hasn't been the same with him out injured the last two weeks.
Offensive Player of the Year:
Tom Brady - This is the hardest award to give out, simply because there aren't many contenders. So, when in doubt, go to Tom Brady. His numbers are, frankly, shocking, and he's making more basic mistakes than ever. But imagine where this team would be without him. There would literally be no offense. With all the change on offense, there needed to be a constant, and Tom Brady has been that. Oh, and don't forget the 2 last minute drives he pulled off in wins against Buffalo and New Orleans.
Editor's Pick - Unassigned. I'm going the Baseball Hall of Fame voter's route and not picking anyone. The offense has been stagnant for most of eight weeks. Not a single player has avoided playing terrible at points, and no one has risen above the rest
Defensive Player of the Year:
Chandler Jones - I took Talib out of the running for this as he has his award, so how about Chandler Jones? I didn't want to give someone an award because "Look how worse off the team is without him". So lets pick a guy who's been on the field all season, has gotten pressure all season, and has made plays. With 6.5 sacks, he's already surpassed his rookie total. This guy has gotten little attention due to injuries to Talib, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork, and while he's been a little inconsistent, Jones has quietly disrupting the backfield every game, and come up with key plays. So while Wilfork and Mayo are obvious choices, the guy who's played 8 games gets the nod.
Editor's Pick - Devin McCourty. McCourty is PFF's number 1 rated safety in the NFL, and he's playing like it. He is routinely lining up against teams' tight ends and shutting them down. You also see teams more hesitant to throw deep this year, mainly because they are afraid to throw in McCourty's direction. It's hard to see on the TV broadcast, because you barely ever see the safeties, but McCourty is having a hell of a season. Talib might take this but he's already MVP.
Kenbrell Thompkins - Another tough one. But for an undrafted Rookie, the pressure facing Thompkins going into the season was immense. He was supposed to be the gamebreaker, the best deep threat since Randy Moss. He hasn't been that, but he's on for 640 yards and 8 TDs, and for an undrafted rookie coming into a complicated offense, that's great production. And how about the game winning TD vs New Orleans and a primetime performance at Atlanta on Sunday Night Football?
Editor's Pick - Chris Jones. Jones was an undrafted free-agent cut by both the Texans and the Buccaneers before being picked up by the Patriots. With both Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly going down he's been thrust into a bigger role, and he's taken advantage. While he's not the run stuffer that Wilfork was in the middle, he's made up for it with pass rushing. With 5 sacks, Jones currently leads all rookies in the NFL.
Tommy Kelly - This award could go to a rookie or, but there's no doubt Kelly has had the biggest impact since arriving in the Summer. He was a great compliment to Wilfork, and he performed very well without that support. And while he's been missing with injury since Week 5, those 5 games showed what a good pick up he was. With two undrafted rookies currently trying to fill the DT position, the Patriots can't wait to get Kelly back out there (with a new veteran next to him!).
Editor's Pick - Tommy Kelly. He was having a hell of a season in the middle of that line before going down with that knee injury. My other vote might go to rookie cornerback Logan Ryan, but he's really only showed up the last two games, so Kelly gets the nod here.
Bust of the Year:
Dont'a Hightower - Most would probably expect to see Danny Amendola here, but Hightower has really disappointed me. It might be because of the role the Patriots have given him, but he seems too slow and bulky to cover, and he certainly doesn't break up the run game like Brandon Spikes. He just seems to be another guy, and for a 1st round draft pick last year, he'll need to step up. He had the green spot for one week, then lost it, so maybe the team feel that way too.
Editor's Pick - Danny Amendola. I have to disagree with Brendan here as I think Hightower is having a great season. Anyway, my pick is Danny Amendola. He was brought in to replace Wes Welker's production, and he hasn't even gotten on the field. He showed flashes of greatness on the final drive of the Bills' game, but was missing the next few weeks. Even when he has been back he's had his snaps limited. He's made virtually no impact on the team outside of the first week. So he's my bust
Let us know what you think, comment below or talk to us on Twitter, @PatriotsLife or @BrendanAnnely