The Kansas City Chiefs now have the first half of the 2010 season in their rear view mirror and at 5-3 they already have one more win than all of last season. If they can post an identical record in the second half, it’s safe to say that they will be on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
With the first eight games in mind, here are our selections for the Chiefs 2010 Midseason Awards.
Rookie of the Year: Eric Berry
I can’t remember the last time the Chiefs had this good of a rookie class, which makes this a touch decision. Tony Moeaki is leading the team in receptions and the return game has been rejuvenated by Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas.
Berry gets the nod because he has used every week to get better and has the look of a kid that could be one of the best rookies in the league by the time Week 17 rolls around. Due to where he was drafted, the mistakes he made early on were magnified, but you see less and less the more snaps he gets under his belt.
For every penalty or missed assignment, Berry is able to answer by breaking up a pass or making a play at the line of scrimmage.
The force is strong with this one.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jamaal Charles
He shot onto the scene last season following the release of Larry Johnson and has continued to impress while playing lightning to Thomas Jones’ thunder. While splitting carries with Jones, Charles has still managed to bust his way into the top 10 in rushing. In fact, his 113 carries are lower than any of the league’s top 15 rushers.
Of the other starting running backs across the NFL, only Arian Foster (5.5) and Darren McFadden (5.4) are within a yard of Charles’ 6.4 yards per carry.
The Chiefs offense will go as far as Charles can take it.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tamba Hali
After last year’s struggles on defense, who would have thought this would be such a difficult choice?
Brandon Flowers and Derrick Johnson are both deserving of this spot and even next level guys like Berry, Brandon Carr and Jovan Belcher should receive votes. With that being said, Hali has been the most impressive player on an emerging defense.
Even though he is still playing as the only true pass rusher for the Chiefs defense, Hali leads the league in QB knockdowns/hurries and currently ranks third with 8 sacks.
Biggest Surprise: Dexter McCluster
There was never any doubt about McCluster’s speed or elusiveness. But there were concerns about his ability to carry the ball out of the backfield and re-learn how to return punts. All of those doubts were blown out of the window when he took a punt 94 yards to the house in Week 1 and showed his development with hard running throughout the season.
Missing two games (and counting) there are still questions about McCluster’s durability, but it’s clear that he has the talent to contribute fully both on offense and special teams.
Biggest Disappointment: Chris Chambers
Chambers was one of last year’s biggest surprises after the Chiefs claimed him on waivers in the middle of the season and he stepped right into the starting lineup and to the top of the stat sheet. He caught everything thrown his way, making big plays along the way to help Kansas City’s offense turn into a formidable unit down the stretch.
The Chiefs re-signed Chambers to a 3 year deal in the offseason and planned for him to continue leading the way for the receiving corps while Dwayne Bowe (hopefully) matured.
Instead the opposite has happened.
While Bowe is making strides to fulfill his potential, Chambers has found himself featured on gossip sites for his, um, unconventional marriage and more recently on the Chiefs inactive list despite being healthy. If the Chiefs are going to rely on the passing game at all, Chambers is going to need to play a much bigger role in the second half of the season.
Coach of the Year: Romeo Crennel
Todd Haley has been mentioned as a possible Coach of the Year candidate with the Chiefs sitting atop the AFC West. One of the biggest reasons why the head coach and team are in that position is thanks to the amazing work Crennel has done with the defense.
A year after the Chiefs looked lost running the 3-4, the unit is flying all over the field as one of the toughest defenses to run the ball against. They still have work to do in the passing game, but the improvements Kansas City has made this season on the defensive side of the ball are unbelievable.
Team MVP: Thomas Jones
If there is one player that has completely embodied “Chiefs Will” this season, it’s Jones.
When he was signed in the offseason, coming off a 1,400 yard season, I wondered if he would be taking too many carries away from Charles and thus causing the young back to regress. As we’ve seen, the two have been the perfect complement to each other both on and off the field.
In the locker room, Jones has shown Charles under his wing and shown him how to be a professional athlete and not just an athlete. And of course on the field he helps keep Charles fresh without the offense needing to change how it operates.
Beyond helping Charles and the offense, Jones has brought a level of leadership that cannot properly be measured and one I feel is a huge reason for the Chiefs quick turnaround.
He might not have the flashiest of stats or highlight reel on SportsCenter, but Jones is easily the midseason MVP for the Kansas City Chiefs.