It's time for the season-ending awards in the NFL, and in putting together my list something hit me like a Ray Lewis tackle.
It's full of names many of us are surprised to be writing about at this time of the year.
Take the Coach of the Year Award. Did anybody think first-year Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith would be in the mix? How about first-year coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins?
They both shocked many, which is why I made them co-coaches of the year. I couldn't pick between the two. Sparano won a division, but Smith had the same 11-5 record in a better division against a tougher schedule with a rookie quarterback.
Sparano's team was coming off a 1-15 season and will play host in a playoff game, while the Falcons were cleaning up the Mike Vick and Bob Petrino messes.
That's why looking back on preseason predictions is fun to do. Do we have any idea?
The envelope please ...
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts. He led his team to nine consecutive victories to close out the season after a 3-4 start.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints. He fell just short of breaking Dan Marino's single-season record for passing yards. It's too bad he didn't get more help.
|Ware is a lightning rod for the Cowboys. (Getty Images)|
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. He has the poise of a player who has been in the league for years.
Jerod Mayo, LB, Patriots. He will be a fixture at future Pro Bowls. His speed really helped the New England defense.
Coach of the Year
(tie) Mike Smith and Tony Sparano.
3. (tie) John Harbaugh, Ravens; Jeff Fisher, Titans.
Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator, Titans. Tennessee was second in the league in scoring defense. He'll get a head coaching job for next season.
2. Kevin Gilbride, offensive coordinator, Giants.
3. Dick LeBeau, defensive coordinator, Steelers.
Most Surprising Team
Atlanta Falcons. They get the nod over Miami because they had a rookie quarterback.
2. Miami Dolphins.
3. Baltimore Ravens.
Most Disappointing Team
Dallas Cowboys. They had the best record in the NFC last season and flopped badly by not making the playoffs this season.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars.
3. Green Bay Packers.
Executive of the Year
Thomas Dimitroff, general manager, Falcons. He's a football guy through and through. He earned his way as a scout. More teams should hire people like Dimitroff.
2. Bill Parcells, president, Dolphins.
3. Ozzie Newsome, general manager, Ravens.
Best Offseason Pickup
Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins. That signing put the Dolphins into the playoffs. He's smart and knows where to go with the football.
2. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
3. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings.
Worst Offseason Pickup or Trade
Brett Favre,QB, Jets. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.
2. Jerry Porter, WR, Jaguars.
3. Javon Walker, WR, Raiders.
Most Improved Player
|Williams has 1,337 yards and 18 TDs on the year. (Getty Images)|
2. Michael Griffin, S, Titans.
3. Joey Porter, LB, Dolphins.
Most Disappointing Player
Derek Anderson, QB, Browns. He was benched after going to the Pro Bowl in his one-hit wonder season in 2007.
2. David Garrard, QB, Jaguars.
3. Williams, WR, Cowboys.
Antonio Bryant, WR, Bucs. He wasn't even on a roster last season. He has become a real threat in the Tampa Bay passing game.
3. Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers,
Giants-Panthers in Week 16. The top seed was on the line and they went to overtime. The Giants rallied to win it and secure the No. 1 seed.
2. Denver 39, San Diego 38 in Week 2. Most will remember that game for the Ed Hochuli blown call that gave Denver the game. Lost in that was a terrific game that saw the Chargers rally to take the lead in the second half.
3. Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37 in Week 2. Have to love all that scoring.
|Brady's injury robbed the NFL of its 2007 MVP. (Getty Images)|
2. Hochuli blowing the call.
3. Detroit Lions going 0-16.
Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant nailing a game-winning field goal to beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 days after his infant son passed away.
2. The 50-year anniversary celebrations for the Greatest Game Ever Played, the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants.
3. Tony Gonzalez breaking the record for receiving yards for a tight end.
A move away from the run-around quarterbacks. Pocket passers are cool again.
2. Spread offense, creativity in the passing game. You have to love it.
3. Handing the ball to rookie quarterbacks and letting them play. Ryan and Flacco will make it better for those who follow.
Wildcat formation. It's only a matter of time before a quarterback gets hurt lined up wide. Then it will be gone forever.
2. Playing stars in meaningless games. Why risk it?
3. Too few down-the-field passers. There's too much safe stuff. Let them fling it.