The national media has handed out all their awards, now it’s time for ours!
It got tiring to see virtually every writer breeze over any member of the Kansas City Chiefs not named Charles, so here is a top-to-bottom rundown of the best (and worst) performances from the 2010 season.
Did I get something wrong? Let me know.
Special Teams MVP: Verran Tucker
Dustin Colquitt and Ryan Succop weren’t bad, but neither had standout seasons. Tucker, on the other hand, quickly became a special teams star after joining the Chiefs off the practice squad Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
We’ve seen plenty of offensive players over the years get down the field on special teams like a bat out of hell just to come up short when it comes time to lay a returner out. That was never an issue for Tucker who hit like a safety on punt coverage.
Rookie Of The Year: Eric Berry
Remember all that chatter before the draft about a safety not being worth a top 5 pick? Yea, how’d that work out?
Berry was thrown into the fire from his first practice and lived there all season long. Early on in the season he suffered some mistakes that could send lesser players into a tailspin leading to a lost season but that didn’t happen here. Instead, all Berry did was seemingly get better with every snap.
It’s rare that a top pick lives up to the ridiculous money handed to them before every putting on their pads, but that’s exactly what Berry did.
Unsung Hero: Brandon Carr
Berry and Brandon Carr got all the attention in the defensive backfield, but it was Carr that had the most action throughout the season. Like Berry, Carr had a couple rough patches that he could have sulked about but instead he went back to work and ended up second in the league in passes defensed.
Play Of The Year: The Catch
There were a lot of highs in the Chiefs season, but few higher than when rookie Tony Moeaki made one of the most incredible catches I have ever seen.
Late in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers and the Chiefs already up 17-3, Cassel sent a pass to Moeaki in the back of the end zone that was clearly too high to catch… or was it? The tight end climbed the invisible ladder, reached out with one hand and pulled in the pass for six points.
Best Free Agent Signing: Shaun Smith
The man accused of grabbing other player’s junk was a much needed addition to the team and not for what he was accused of, but for much more. First, he brought a great attitude and swagger to the locker room, something that most of the Chiefs defenders were missing last season. Oh yea, Smith was pretty good on the field too.
The veteran, who played his best football under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, again responded. Smith was on the field every week, racking up at least one tackle in each game but one and overall only Glenn Dorsey had more tackles for the season among defensive linemen.
Coming in tied for second were Thomas Jones and Ryan Lilja, with Smith getting the nod thanks to the cooler nickname, “Deep Freeze”.
Worst Free Agent Signing: Jerheme Urban
This isn’t completely fair. On the eve of the season, the Chiefs were forced to put Urban on IR after he tore a tendon in his finger while blocking in the final preseason game. He had surgery with a recovery time that he estimated would be 10-12 weeks, putting him in position to contribute next season, whenever that happens to be.
Still, Urban was brought in to be a big target for Matt Cassel but he never seemed to get off the ground, even before the injury. After catching one pass for seven yards in the first preseason game, Urban failed to catch one pass the next three games, prompting many to wonder if his spot on the roster was in jeopardy.
Biggest Disappointment: Chris Chambers
When a Haley favorite like Urban went down, things didn’t seem so bad since Chambers had played so well last season after being claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers. Then Chambers seemingly forgot how to make plays and became a healthy scratch four times, including the Chiefs only playoff game. Taking his roster spot? Kevin Curtis, who had been a Chief less than a week.
All told, Chambers played in the fewest games in his career, which led to the worst statistical year ever. To put it in perspective just how bad he was (as if being replaced by Curtis wasn’t enough), in nine games in 2009 with the Chiefs, Chambers caught 36 passes for 608 yards in nine games. In his 13 games this season he only caught 22 passes for 213 yards.
Biggest Surprise: Kendrick Lewis
It’s not often that a defense misses a rookie taken in the fifth round of the draft when he isn’t on the field, but that seemed to be the case whenever Lewis was forced to the sidelines. The Chiefs went 1-3 in the four games he missed, with the only win coming in a 10-6 nail bitter at home against a bad Broncos team.
When Lewis was drafted, I was jumping up and down about Myron Rolle. In the meantime, Lewis was a starter for most of the season and Rolle was working on the Titans practice squad.
Defensive MVP: Tamba Hali
Call it wearing rose-colored glasses all you want, but Hali was the best pass rushing linebacker in the NFL this season. Hali’s lack of reputation failed to get him any help from the officials and the lack of any pass rush talent around him made one-on-one matchups hard to find.
Even with everything working against him, Hali led the AFC in sacks with 14.5, finishing just one behind DeMarcus Ware for the league lead. How he failed to get even one vote for Defensive Player of the Year continues to baffle me.
Offensive MVP: Jamaal Charles
The Free Jamaal Charles movement was in full effect all season long and even though Todd Haley never full unleashed his best player, Charles still managed to finish second in the NFL in rushing (with 97 less carries than the leader Arian Foster) while turning in one of the most efficient seasons the sport has ever seen.
He wasn’t too shabby out of the backfield catching the ball either. His 10.4 yard average was half yard better than Tom Brady’s favorite target, Wes Welker.
While he often came up limping — giving Haley reason to hold him back — Charles didn’t miss a single game. He just kept taking the ball whenever the head coach would give it to him . Even when he was being ignored in the second half of the Chiefs playoff loss to the Ravens, Charles was throwing his body around to beautifully pick up blitzes.