Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley lives each season in quarters. With the second quarter now in the Chiefs rear view mirror with a 4-4 record, they are pacing one game behind last season’s AFC West champion squad who finished the first half at 5-3.
As the Chiefs prepare to kick off the third quarter of the season on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, here is a look back at our selections for the Chiefs 2011 Midseason Awards.
Rookie of the Year: Jonathan Baldwin
A year after Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki, Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster and Kendrick Lewis all made major contributions as rookies, the Chiefs 2011 first-year players have been almost completely invisible. Baldwin gets to nod here almost by default because the rest of the rookie class has been so quiet.
Entering the season it looked like Justin Houston would have a chance to make an impact as a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali. The linebacker has had flashes but he has lost snaps to Andy Studebaker and has yet to find his way to the quarterback.
Even though Baldwin missed the first five games of the year after injuring his thumb in a preseason fight with Thomas Jones and only has seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, he still has had more impact than the other rookies on the team. The impact was felt during the Chiefs 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers when he caught a 39-yard touchdown.
As Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston continue turning in big plays, Baldwin should get plenty of opportunities to do some damage of his own and fight Houston for ROY status at the end of the season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Dwayne Bowe
With the Chiefs losing Jamaal Charles to a knee injury the second week of the season, the pressure on Bowe immediately went through the roof. So far, the All-Pro wide receiver has more than answered the call.
Despite playing with an erratic Matt Cassel, Bowe is seventh in the league with 646 yards receiving. Bowe’s on pace to make 78 passes for 1,292 yards and 16.6 yards per reception, all of which would top his amazing 2010. His four touchdowns put him on pace to top every season of his career other than last year.
No matter what happens with the Kansas City offense, there’s no reason to believe Bowe will slow down anytime son.
Defensive Player of the Year: Derrick Johnson
Without adding any significant pieces to a struggling linebacking corps other than rookie Houston and second-year player Cameron Sheffield who missed all of last season, there’s no reason for Johnson to all of a sudden be the Chiefs best player on defense. But that’s exactly what’s happened.
Johnson is easily on pace to have a career year and has helped lead a defense that initially went through an identity crisis when Eric Berry was lost for the season. The veteran linebacker has been not only the best linebacker in Kansas City, but one of the best in the league.
For the Chiefs to win enough games in the second half to defend their division title, Johnson will need to turn in another amazing eight games.
Biggest Surprise: Jon Asamoah
When Brian Waters was released before the season, Todd Haley and the Chiefs obviously thought Asamoah could hold his own at this level, but it’s hard to imagine they thought he would be this good.
The second-year guard isn’t heading to the Pro Bowl, but he has been just as good as the veteran Waters was last season for the Chiefs line. Asamoah has also been able to overcome playing next to a struggling Barry Richardson, something that might be too much for a lot of young offensive linemen.
He has a lot of work to do still, but Asamoah is well on his way to being a part of the Chiefs offense for years to com.
Biggest Disappointment: Thomas Jones
In the wake of Charles’ season-ending injury, Jones had the opportunity to step up and show he had something left in the tank, but instead he came up empty.
Players on the Chiefs that have a better per rush average than Jones’ 3.0: Jamaal Charles, Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster, Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe and Javier Arenas.
Coach of the Year: Todd Haley
After getting off to an 0-3 start, there was a swell of support around Kansas City and the country for a movement to kick Haley out of town. Even after winning the division last season despite few expectations, it only took that quick losing streak to turn the tables so quickly.
It would have been easy for a young coach to crumble under the pressure of trying to bounce back despite being without three of his best players. Instead, Haley was able to get his team to rally around him and the Chiefs enter the second half controlling their own fate when it comes to the playoffs.
Team MVP: Bowe
“The Bowe Show” has easily been the highlight of the first half for the Chiefs.
If there’s a repeat in the second half, Bowe just might get a chance to redeem himself in the playoffs for last season’s shutout against the Baltimore Ravens.
You can see the first quarter awards here.