Totally Biased NFL Midseason Award, Day 3: Comeback, and Breakout Players of the Year

The second article in the NFL Midseason Award series, if you missed article two, check it out HERE !

Perhaps some of the harder awards to predict, and the most exciting, are the two highlighted today. The first, is the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The award is almost always given out to a player who has overcame an injury, usually season ending, to post fantastic numbers the year before. Of course, it isn’t the players personal favorite award, because “Comeback”, usually means you had to go somewhere, and in this case, it usually means the IR. Previous winners have been Tom Brady after coming back from a devastating knee injury, Tedy Bruschi and his return from a horrible stroke, and Michael Vick after… ya know… killing dog and coming back to kill defenses! Too soon? Of course not.

The Breakout player award usually always has many candidates. Given to a player, usually in his third or fourth year, who breaks onto the scene in a big way, to put up huge numbers for his offense, or defense. This award is the only one that is not recognized by any company, but almost always falls on experts awards list, as it is sometime the most interesting to choose. So, without further ado, let’s get to the illustrious winners!

NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Last Season: 535 yds, 6 TD’s – 1 INT, 91.3 rating
This Season: 2,179 yds, 19 TD’s – 4 INT, 99.1 rating 

With a few more years under his belt, Stafford could make an MVP run

Stafford’s young career has been plagued with a multitude of injuries. Thankfully, the baby faced gunslinger is completely healthy this year, and is doing incredible things for Mo-Town. Stafford has led the Silver and Blue to a 6-2 record, good for 2nd place in the NFC North, trailing only the reigning Superbowl champion Green Bay Packers. Stafford has dazzled critics and experts alike, posting insane numbers week after week. He’s racked up 2,179 passing yards, good for 6th in the NFL. In doing so, he’s also lobbed a whopping 19 TD’s, as opposed to only 4 interceptions.

With a couple more big games, Calvin could zone in on Randy Moss' single season TD record

The happiest man with the return of the Detroit play caller is Calvin Johnson, better known as Megatron. Johnson already has 47 grabs, 804 yds, and a league leading 11 TD’s. These two should be spending plenty of time together in Detroit over the next couple years and, as crazy as this might sound, these two might be as prolific as Brady-Moss, Manning-Harrison, or even Young-Rice. I know it’s early, but with Stafford’s arm [assuming it… ya know… is still working], and Johnson’s big play ability, the sky is definitely the limit.

Another young target that could become a big name in Detroit is Titus Young. The big play receiver for Kellen Moore while he was at Boise State, Young has been impressive thus far, and hasn’t even begun to tap into his full potential.

With Javid Best, and the aforementioned Calvin and Titus, Stafford is surrounded by very good players. There is no one else even close to Stafford when it comes to the Comeback Player award, and hopefully, for not only the Detroit organization, but the NFL fans as well, his arm can hold up. Something special is brewing in the Motor City.

NFL Breakout Player of the Year

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

2010: Zip, Nada, Nothing. Cruz played in three games, and failed to make a single reception
2011: 28 rec, 497 yds, 4 TD’s

The man make's pink socks look fashionable... Well... Almost.

A totally biased pick? Well, yes, and no. There aren’t normally as many players up for this award, as I like to really limit what can be considered breakout. I generally try and look for someone relatively unknown prior to the season, who obviously isn’t a rookie, and their stats need to make an obvious jump. This of course takes out phenoms like Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, etc.

Cruz, however, fits every one of those categories. He had some brief notoriety after a monster preseason game against the Jets in 2010, in which he had three touchdowns, all in the first half. Coming into this season however, Cruz was stuck on the depth chart, and nowhere near the top. Aside from obvious standout’s Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham, Cruz also found himself behind Domenik Hixon. After an injury to Hixon, and later, Manningham, Cruz stepped it up in a big way. He had three grabs in the tilt against Philly, totaling 110 yards, and 2 TD’s, one of them he impressively out tussled Pro Bowl CB, Nmadi Asomugha.

Salsa dance coming in 5... 4.... 3....

That wouldn’t even Cruz’s best game however, as he would light up the Seattle secondary at Metlife Stadium, with eight catches, for 161 yards, and a touchdown. Not just any touchdown however, as it would be named by ESPN as the #1 play up to the halfway point in the NFL season [DAMN the man can dance!]. If you haven’t seen it, than call your real estate agent and tell them you’d like a house, instead of the damn rock you’ve been living under.

With a couple more big games, Cruz could finish with over 1000 receiving yards and approach 10 TD’s. Hell, if he plays his cards right, he might even pass Hakeem Nicks in both categories this season. One thing is for sure, Giants fans all around the world, and especially the ones who let out the “Cruuuuuuuz” chant after every catch [I promise you, NE fans, the you WILL hear it, even in Gillette, every time he plucks one out of the air], are hoping that Cruz can keep up his string of great showings.

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