While we are all disappointed in missing the playoffs after winning ten games, let's be honest, it would have just been icing on the cake. 10 wins was a successful season by anyone's standards. Making the playoffs could have helped the team in marketing next year, but the Bucs likely wouldn't have made much of a splash in the postseason. So, because I have gotten over the near miss, it's time to recap the season with some "awards."
Most Valuable Player - Josh Freeman - Freeman carried an offense through several games this season, winning a few in the fourth quarter. I'm not sure there is a more improved player in the league. 25 Touchdowns was nice, but what stood out to me was the 6 Interceptions. That is a phenomenal ratio for a league veteran, let alone for a wide-eyed sophomore. Runner Up: Mike Williams
Defensive Player of the Year - Aqib Talib - Talib easily would have been the lone Pro-Bowl selection for the Bucs had he stayed healthy. The loss of Talib was felt in coverage and even coughleadershipcough. When Talib is on the field the defense plays with more energy and enthusiasm. He was, arguably, one of the most productive cornerbacks as far as pass break-ups, tackles and INT's. He did give up some big plays, but most CB's who put up big numbers do. I know they play different positions, but for my money Talib is better than Troy Polamolu, yet receives 1/8 of the recognition. Runner Up(s): Cody Grimm, Ronde Barber
Rookie of the Year - Mike Williams - On a team with as many rookies as the Bucs, it's hard to stand out. McCoy, Blount and Grimm were all incredibly productive members. Benn, Larsen, Lewis, Watson and Price all made a slight impact. Williams SHOULD by any metrics win OROY. However, he won't. Bradford is a quarterback and far more marketable. I would be surprised if Williams is even the runner-up to be quite honest. What he accomplished this season was remarkable though. Runner Up: LeGarrette Blount
Play of the Year - In a season with 10 wins, there is plenty of highlights to pull from.
This defined the effort we got all year long from an undrafted rookie. Blount was a tremendous pickup. Runners up would include (if I could find video) - Talib's Pick6, Mike Williams tipped pass for a TD, Spurlocks Kick Return for a touchdown, Cody Grimms "illegal" hit.
Coach of the Year - Eric Yarber - The obvious choices would be Raheem Morris for getting his team to over-achieve or Greg Olson for his spectacular turn around. My choice is Yarber. He helped Mike Williams transition into a star, finally got Benn going, Spurlock was a pleasent surprise and a solid #3 WR, Briscoe came on strong in the final week after 4 or 5 weeks of being under Yarber. I just think if there was one unit who righted the ship (outside of QB) all season long it was the WR group. Hat's off to Yarber for a job well done. Roy Cummings reported yesterday that Morris is trying to keep his staff in place for next season. Outside of Wash, I have no problem with that. Runner Up: Steve Logan
Most Improved Player - Josh Freeman - I was nervous last year after the disastrous performances he put out. The Bucs had banked on him. The franchise was invested. Getting Van Pelt in the offseason to coach Freeman, and Freemans dedication in the gym and film room this offseason paid huge dividends. Runner up(s): Michael Spurlock, Geno Hayes
Most Disappointing Player - Barrett Ruud - Putting my man-crush for Ruud aside, I was hoping that last year was a fluke. Ruud had a few good games this season, but more often than not, found himself out of position. He still didn't have world-beaters in front of him, which does hurt as MLB. It doesn't free you up to run around and make plays. Too often you are fighting off blocks or filling gaps. I don't think he's as bad as many of you will want to claim he is, but he dissapointed me. I thought he would have a pro-bowl caliber year with the additions at DT. Those additions took longer to make an impact than I had hoped. Runner Up: Davin Joseph.
Worst Player of the Year - Elbert Mack - Mack was atrocious when he was on the field in Nickel or Dime situations. He couldn't tackle and got abused more time than the city of Cleveland.