Quite honestly, I didn't think I'd be writing this story this soon. But the New York Jets made sure that the NFL offseason was brought to Foxboro much sooner than anyone was expecting. Nevertheless, the 2010-11 Patriots had a superb regular season, with some top-notch performances from several players.
Now that the season has come to a close, we can present the Patriots with their exclusive and highly coveted SB Nation Boston postseason awards.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB Tom Brady (obviously) - Even though the Brady and company was bounced from the playoffs in their first game (again), one thing was clear: Tom Brady was the best player in football this year. Brady finished the 2010-11 campaign with 3,900 yards, 36 passing touchdowns, a remarkably-low four interceptions and a 111.0 QB rating.
Brady and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick were seen as the two leading candidates for the league's MVP awards, but Tom Terrific pulled away in the latter half of the season, due in part to his NFL record-setting 339 passes thrown without an interception. Brady will most likely be the NFL's MVP this season, and he was certainly the Patriots'.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LB Jerod Mayo - Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been criticized for making mistakes in the NFL Draft, but no one is criticizing him for the selection of Jerod Mayo. In three seasons in New England, Mayo has amassed 405 tackles (283 solo) and 3.5 sacks. In 2010, Mayo had a career year, making a career-high 174 tackles (113 solo) and a career-high two sacks. Mayo was one of the Patriots' anchors on the defensive end of the ball, and his career year resulted in a Pro Bowl selection. It also resulted in him being named the SB Nation Boston Defensive Player of the Year.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: CB Devin McCourty - Another draft pick that you can't fault Belichick for is McCourty. In fact, Belichick deserves a lot of praise for selecting McCourty with the 27th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. McCourty was selected to the Pro Bowl in just his first season in the league. In 16 games, McCourty recorded 82 tackles (69 solo), one sack and seven interceptions, tied for second most in the league. McCourty quickly became a shutdown corner and gained the respect of opposing teams with his breakout performance this year.
MOST SURPRISING: RB Danny Woodhead - Danny Woodhead started the season with one goal: make it onto the Jets' roster. Well, we suppose a nice consolation was becoming a fan favorite while playing a central figure in the offense. Woodhead was cut by the Jets in September and promptly picked up by the Patriots. In 14 games with New England, Woodhead racked up 547 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns as well as 379 receiving yards and one score. Woodhead took the place of veteran running back Kevin Faulk, who suffered a season-ending injury in late September, and shocked NFL fans nationwide with his strong performance. Based on 2010, Woodhead has a bright future ahead, hopefully with the Patriots.
MOST DISAPPOINTING: WR Randy Moss - Randy Moss was one of the most talented players ever to put on a Patriots uniform. Unfortunately, he may have also been one of the most controversial. And he certainly was the loudest. Moss went on a rant requesting a new contract (well, demanding a new one, really), after the Patriots' Week One win against the Bengals.
Belichick decided that he wasn't going to give Moss that contract, and ultimately shipped him to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round pick. The Vikings apparently didn't want to pay him or put up with his antics either, eventually waiving him after a reported outburst over catering in the locker room. Moss was claimed by Tennessee, and subsequently faded into the shadows. For the season, Moss had a mere 393 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. With the Patriots, he only had 139 receiving yards and three touchdowns in four games. Moss was by far the Patriots' most disappointing player, considering his talent level. Moss could have helped the Patriots down the stretch, and maybe even could have helped New England beat the Jets in the playoffs. I guess we'll never know.
The Patriots' season didn't end the way we all expected, but on the whole, it was a successful season, considering that most didn't even consider New England as a title contender at the start of the season.