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The First Quarter NFL Awards

The “Moses in the Wilderness” Award: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars may be 0-4 right now, but there are plenty of positive signs for fans of the franchise that has made itself quite comfortable at the bottom of the division. Blake Bortles looks like he could be the cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade, fixing a quarterback problem that has plagued them for years.

But maybe the most exciting moment of the Jaguars’ season so far was a one-yard touchdown run by Toby Gerhart. Why was it so exciting? Because it was the first rushing touchdown the Jaguars scored since NOVEMBER 2013! Theoretically, that means there are babies that learned to walk and speak a few words in between the time it took for the Jags to run the ball into the endzone. Welcome back to the Promised Land, Jacksonville.

The “Memento” Award: Andy Dalton
They say you have to have a short memory as a quarterback. If that’s the case, then Andy Dalton should star in Memento. After an abysmal playoff performance, the Cincinnati quarterback got a large contract extension, a new offensive coordinator, and the pressure of the world on his back. After the Bengal’s 3-0 start, he’s looked like a top tier quarterback.

Dalton’s throws have been much more precise and he’s been avoiding forcing throws into tight spots. He finally seems comfortable in the pocket. Plus, he’s the only quarterback in the league that also has a touchdown reception, thanks to this “wow, that could have ended horribly” play against the Titans:

The “Michael Buble ‘Let Me Go Home’” Award: Matt Ryan
The Falcons were one of the biggest disappointments last season, but things seemed much different after a big win over the New Orleans Saints in week one. But then they looked awful in onslaught the Bengals put on them in week two. Don’t worry though, they were back to stellar against the Bucs in week 3, as they put up 56 points on Tampa Bay. Oh wait, then the Falcons went back to trash mode, allowing 41 points by the Minnesota Vikings. What’s the difference? The Falcons can only seem to win at home in the comfort of their dome. As a matter of fact, the Falcons haven’t won an outdoor game since November 25, 2012.

Maybe it’s time for Matt Ryan to start taking a few practice reps out in the elements.

The “Awkwardly Running Into Your Ex Who’s Engaged To Someone Way More Successful” Award: Carolina Panthers
When the Panthers cut ties with Steve Smith in the offseason, it seemed odd. Smith had been the face of the franchise for 13 years and was always a major contributor to the offense. Plus, the Panthers didn’t really have the strongest set of receivers, so it really seemed peculiar. Smith signed with the Ravens and has been putting up Steve Smith 2005 numbers, but no game has been bigger than his week four matchup against his former team, where he tallied 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile the Panthers seem to be falling apart at the seams. Steve Smith just turned into that girl that you broke up with and then you run into her months later and she looks amazing and is engaged to a doctor. Meanwhile you’re covered in Fritos with a Boondocks Saints poster on your living room wall.

The “Michael Bay Box Office” Award: Martellus Bennett
Every week fantasy “experts” — aka, people who claim to have the ability to predict the future — keep saying to get rid of Martellus Bennett because he can’t keep having the same amount of success. Yet every week he keeps putting up monster numbers and is looking more and more like Jay Cutler’s favorite target. In his last game against the Packers, ESPN projected him to get 46 yards. Despite Jay Cutler playing like a blindfolded Mark Sanchez in the second half, Bennett still finished the game with 134 yards.

Just like Michael Bay, all the experts keep telling you to stay away, but you can’t argue with the numbers. It may not be pretty, but he gets the job done every time. Am I really defending Michael Bay?

The “Sorry, I Didn’t Know I Couldn’t Do That” Award: Johnny Manziel
Who would have thought that the most memorable things Johnny Manziel did after the first month of the regular season would be the most ridiculously illegal trick plays you’ll see in professional football.

Manziel caught a nice pass from Brian Hoyer in week three after pretending to be standing on the sidelines talking to his coach. The problem is that, according to NFL rules, you have to be facing forward with your shoulders in line with the line of scrimmage while standing at least five yards from the sidelines. Nice try Johnny. Back to the sidelines.

The “Madden Cheat Code” Award: The Oakland Raiders
It’s not even fun to make jokes about the Raiders anymore. They’re such a broken and defeated franchise, it’s almost sad. They’ve now had eight coaches over the last 12 years. Jennifer Aniston does better with boyfriends than the Raiders do with coaches. Every game looks like the opposing team used a cheat code against them or, even worse, your friend died while playing you in Madden and, instead of calling an ambulance right away, you decided to finish the game first. If you had any doubts about how terrible the Raiders would be this year, this pretty much sums it up:

The “One Man’s Trash” Award: London
The effort to make the NFL a global community seems promising, so playing games overseas seems like a great idea. The problem is that we sent them a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders. I guess the NFL figured the fans in Europe would be so excited to see an NFL game, why not give them a thrilling matchup between Ryan Tannehill and Derek Carr? The Raiders finished the game with more turnovers than a pastry chef with OCD, so hopefully the Falcons and Lions game in Week 8 will be a bit more exciting.

The “Jack Johnson Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” Award: DeMarco Murray
Hey remember in your fantasy football draft when LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin, and Arian Foster were going in the first round? Meanwhile DeMarco Murray just sat down there patiently waiting. Going into Murray’s Week 4 game against the Saints, he was still the leading rusher in the NFL. He had done more in three games than any other runningback had done in four. After another monster performance it’s clear he’s the most productive back in the league right now. Meanwhile LeSean McCoy only had 17 more yards rushing than I did in week four and Lacy still hasn’t broken 50 yards in a game.

The “Tubthumping” Award: Minnesota Vikings
After losing the only piece of consistent offense they’d had for the last few years and, arguably the best runningback in the league, it appeared the Vikings would be a glorified bye week for the rest of the season. Apparently no one told that to the Vikings. Teddy Bridgewater, who will make every team regret passing on him, has ignited a much needed spark in the Vikings and turned them into a very entertaining team to watch. If coaching can find a way to consistently use Cordarrelle Patterson, they may not quite be playoff contenders, but they’ll give Vikings’ fan something to talk about and a reason to show up every week. Bridgewater could very well be the future of the franchise. They got knocked down, but they got up again. You’re never gonna keep them down. Adrian who?


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