Photo by Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through the 2013 NFL season. After eight weeks, the Colts are 5-2, and, having just come off their bye week, they’ll head to Houston with a fresh group of players ready to take on the 2-5 Texans.
I bet quite a few football gurus had the records reversed for the two teams I just mentioned above prior to the season starting. I remember watching an ESPN preseason segment in which every analyst but one pegged Houston to win the AFC South this year. The Colts have vastly outplayed expectations, having already beaten NFL powerhouses San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver, and the future looks bright for the team, for only two of their remaining nine opponents currently have winning records. The Colts have a tough task ahead in “replacing” (It’ll be impossible to replace him, but another man must step up in his absence) Reggie Wayne, but they have already adjusted after losing other starters to injury like Dwayne Allen, Donald Thomas, Vick Ballard, and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Who have been the difference-makers? They’re listed below, as recipients of my Indianapolis Colts midseason awards.
Midseason Rookie of the Year: Hugh Thornton
Thornton, the Colts’ most recent third round draft pick, is the only rookie starter on this year’s Colts team. Thorton was thrust into the starting left guard position in Week 3 after Donald Thomas tore his quad and was placed on Injured Reserve. Thorton stepped up and has played quite admirably, especially considering the fact that not only is it his first year in the league, but he also did not get much action in the preseason or training camp while nursing his own injury. Gill Brandt of NFL media listed Thornton as one of his “overachievers” when evaluating the 2013 NFL rookie class, and I’d agree. Protecting Andrew Luck is one of the most important jobs on this Indianapolis Colts team, and Thorton does not seem daunted.
Midseason Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck
This is a pretty obvious choice here, but who would argue it? Luck is in the running for MVP of the entire league. He clearly, then, is a runaway on his own team. Luck is currently ranked fifth in the NFL with a 71.9 Total QBR, trailing Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and Drew Brees. Luck’s sheer presence on the field makes the Colts a threat in every game they contest, because Luck’s poise always seems to allow him to put his team in the best position to win. He already has led nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his young, 24-game career. The sky’s the limit.
Midseason Offensive Player of the Year Not Named Andrew Luck: T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton is going to be the top receiver on the Colts in Reggie Wayne’s absence. He had a breakout performance in Week 5 against Seattle, catching five passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard score. Hilton is a dynamic player who is exciting to watch. Consistency and getting open without Wayne’s help to draw defenders away will be they keys to his success going forward.
Midseason Defensive Colt of the Year: Robert Mathis
Robert Mathis currently leads the NFL in sacks with 11.5 through seven games. He’s having one of the best seasons of his career, which is pretty remarkable considering he’s 11 years in and has only been playing at the linebacker position for a season and a half. Mathis recorded his 100th sack this season, making him part of an elite group of only 30 players who have reached that milestone.
Midseason Special Teams Player of the Year: Adam Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri may be the most clutch player out there. He’s good ‘ol reliable; fans are stunned when he actually misses. Vinatieri has only missed two of his 17 field goal attempts so far this season, good enough for 7th in the NFL, and those misses were both at attempts longer than 50 yards. He’s a perfect 6-for-6 on kicks between 40 and 49 yards in his 18th season. That’s unbelievably impressive.
Midseason Play of the Year: Pat McAfee’s hit on Trindon Holliday
Someone please remind me: Is Pat McAfee a punter or a linebacker? McAfee’s massive tackle of return specialist Trindon Holliday in Week 7 had fans gasping in disbelief and computer nerds everywhere making animated GIFs of the hit. It’s a play that won’t soon be forgotten this season and in the seasons ahead, I assure you.
Who will step up in the weeks ahead? If the first half of the season is any indication, somebody will in a big way. There’s a lot of football left to be played, but the Colts sit in a very desirable position as the current leaders of the AFC South. Here’s to a second half of exciting, memorable football.