NFL

Patriots’ Tom Brady named RJ’s MVP in first-half NFL awards

The NFL turned into the NBA during its trade deadline last week.

Six trades were made within a week of Tuesday’s deadline, the most since the 2011 season. It could have been seven if the Browns didn’t celebrate too hard about almost getting AJ McCarron and turning in the wrong paperwork.

The 49ers snagged their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, the former Patriots backup who has star potential. The first-place Eagles are thinking about now after trading for Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi.

Seattle is gearing up for another Super Bowl run by giving Russell Wilson offensive line protection. Duane Brown will slide in at left tackle for the Seahawks after he was traded from the Texans.

While teams are thinking about the future, let’s take a step back and review the first half of the NFL season. Here are our major individual award winners after two months of football:

Most Valuable Player

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

First of all, gutsy move by the Patriots with the Garoppolo trade. They must be extremely confident that their 40-year-old quarterback will stay healthy for the remainder of the season. Can’t blame the Patriots. Brady is getting better with age and arguably is having his best season. Brady loses Julian Edelman, his most reliable wide receiver, to a torn ACL before the season. No problem. Oh, the defense can’t hold teams under 35? Brady says, here’s 40 points. The indestructible Brady has the Patriots offense clicking.

Offensive Player of the Year

Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s remarkable what Wentz is doing in his second year in the NFL. Many pundits had the Eagles as the third-best team in the NFC East behind the Giants and Cowboys. Wentz now has the Eagles as the best team in the NFC and maybe the league. He is tied for first in passing touchdowns with 19 and is third in passing yards with 2,063. The Eagles are averaging 29 points per game.

Defensive Player of the Year

Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

For years, NFL pundits have been high on the Jaguars’ defense, but it never translated onto the field. The arrival of Campbell changed that this season. Not only is he providing leadership, but he’s also the best player on a deep Jaguars defensive unit. Campbell is second in the league in sacks with 10 and is arguably the best free-agent signing of the offseason. He was supposed to be on the decline at age 31. That’s not happening any time soon.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

NFL fans were disappointed about Watson’s season-ending injury last week. He was playing like an MVP candidate as a rookie in the hardest position in football. Watson turned the once dreadful Texans’ offense into arguably the best in the league of the past month. He won’t win this award at the end of season, but his first-half performance won’t be forgotten.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints

It doesn’t matter what other defensive rookies are doing. If you turn around the Saints’ defense, you deserve this award and more. Let’s not forget how bad the Saints’ defense was in the past three or four seasons. They were atrocious, and Lattimore changed that as rookie. Corners don’t get labeled “shutdown” in their first season, but Lattimore is that after stopping top wideouts on a weekly basis.

Coach of the Year

Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams haven’t gone away like many expected. McVay has them in playoff contention with a 5-2 record. He’s only 31 and quickly turned around the Rams’ offense. He helped Jared Goff shake off a dreadful rookie year and has the Rams averaging 30.3 points.

Gilbert Manzano covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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