Hello and welcome to the NFL awards for the first quarter of the NFL season, where the best and worst performances of the season are highlighted.
And even though the season is only 25 percent completed (Jason Garrett Note: It's a process), here are the things we loved, hated, and shook our heads over during the season's first month.
The "MVP of the first quarter" award goes to Matt Ryan
The unheralded quarterback of the Falcons has often been just that for a reason, but not this year. That will often happen when you lead your team to a 4-0 start.
Of course, since we are only a month into the season, things are bound to change for this often moribund franchise, but while they have yet to take the last stop in Red Ball's famed "process", Ryan has already made history as the first Falcons quarterback to lead them to consecutive postseason appearances. Now he just needs to work on getting some wins once he leads them there again this year.
The "surprise team of the first quarter" award goes to the New Orleans Saints
Maybe, depending on your point of view, this wouldn't be considered much of a surprise at all, but "bounty gate" penalties or not, to see a team that has Drew Brees at quarterback sitting at 0-4 is at least somewhat shocking to the system.
Due to the Saints' ongoing feud with Roger Goodell (and thanks to all of us here at the NFL awards having made nice with the commish & having been talked off our ledge, thanks to the real refs returning), no one from the Saints accepted the award.
But strangely, mysterious figures in Saints uniforms kept rushing the stage for the rest of the night, trying to take us all out, but still refusing to use the word "bounty."
The "least valuable player of the first quarter" award goes to Mark Sanchez
There was a lot of competition for this award, too, but Sanchez did something truly remarkable here and won it going away, despite the fact that he started the season by leading the Jets to 48 points in what might go down as the best game he'll ever play in the NFL.
But he, and the rest of his Jets teammates have been so inept since then that it wound up being a slam dunk for him. The award was presented by the rumored new girlfriend of the Sanchize, Eva Longoria. After accepting the award from her, Sanchez left to star in ABC's newest hit in the "Desperate Housewives" time slot: "Desperate Quarterback."
The "head-scratching game result of the first quarter" award goes to the Cowboys beating the Giants
Can ANYONE tell us how that happened anymore? Our guess: the Giants never actually took the field and an evil bunch of Jerry Jones-controlled robots lost the game instead.
Because, ever since then, the Cowboys have sloshed (well, they've played like they've actually been sloshed, anyway), their way through three games, barely having eclipsed the 24 points they scored in that game in the last three total. Here, now, to accept the award, is Jason Garrett:
"I'm disappointed in the final result of that attempt at humor, NFL awards. But, it's a process, and you've got to complete the process in all three phases of this column. I was proud of the effort, but the execution has to get better, as part of the process, in all three phases, week by week."
The "team of the first quarter" award goes to the Houston Texans
Though there are three undefeated teams remaining at the NFL's quarter-pole, the one that has unquestionably played the best for all four weeks of the season thus far is the Texans, who sit 4-0 for the first time in their brief franchise history.
And it wouldn't surprise anyone here at the NFL awards if the Texans end up being the best team by the end of the year, and end up proving it, say, the first Sunday in February in that big game at the end of the year. In the meantime, they have this not-quite-so-prestigious award to help them celebrate the fact they've won nothing yet.
The "biggest train wreck of the first quarter" award goes to the replacement refs
As much as we would've loved to put this to bed after the real refs returned last week, there was nothing involving an actual NFL team (the Jets excluded, of course), that has even come close to rivaling the train wreck that was the replacement refs.
Let's just chalk this one up to a learning experience for all involved and move on, since we start to get cranky all over again just thinking about it. Well, that and the fact we couldn't actually find a replacement ref to give the award to, since they all went back under whatever rocks they crawled out from in the first place.
The "jack wagon of the first quarter" award goes to Golden Tate
Really, given the way the whole Seahawks organization handled the "win" over the Packers that ushered the real refs back to work, we could've given this award to them as a whole.
But we managed to narrow it down thanks to Tate's questionable (at best) actions of late, such as taking an obviously illegal cheap shot at the Cowboys' Sean Lee ans then following that up by not only pushing off for the whole world to see during that famed "Fail Mary" play, but then feigning complete and total ignorance when asked about it afterward. Nice job, chump. You definitely earned this one.
The "worst team of the first quarter" award goes to the Cleveland Browns
THIS would be the organizational award, right here. It's not the Browns have played all that horribly, as they haven't, but the fact of the matter is that if you draft a 28-year-old quarterback, who also happens to be the classic definition of the college football "system" quarterback, when you already drafted the star running back (Trent Richardson) that would have given your now-deposed quarterback (Colt McCoy) the chance to actually succeed in that football wasteland, well, now you see why they earned it.
The "luckiest team of the first quarter" goes to the Philadelphia Eagles
And they might possibly be the luckiest team in the history of the NFL, at least as far as their first three wins are concerned. They became the first team in NFL history to have their first three games be each by two points or less, and, in this case, at least, they got extremely lucky in each case.
It might be just the fact that the Eagles are probably atop the list of "teams we hate" here at the NFL awards, but we doubt it. It's more likely the fact that 12 turnovers and better clock management by the Giants would seem to indicate 0-4 is where they deserve to be. But then again, people do often say it's better to be lucky than good.
The "coach of the first quarter" award goes to Ken Whisenhunt
Maybe it's not really that big of a surprise that the Cardinals are 4-0. But what is a surprise is that their 4-0, while having to balance changing quarterbacks due to injury (from John Skelton to Kevin Kolb), and getting a big game from a different "unknown" gut every week, like, for example, Andre Roberts last week against the Dolphins.
But Whisenhunt, though known as an offensive guru, is beginning to make his bones in the desert with his defense, which continues to define his tenure in Arizona. And for getting the most out of the least (at least where the three unbeaten teams are concerned), he is our "coach of the first quarter."
And that concludes are show for the week. We'll be back to what passes as our "normal" format next week.