The votes have been tabulated (my ballot is the only one that counts, of course), and the winners have been determined for the Daily Herald's 2011 NFL Year-End Awards.
Most pompous windbag:
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New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. He may hail from the suburbs (Stevenson High School grad), but his act has grown tiresome.
Here's the deal: if you're going to spend so much time boasting and talking smack, then you have to occasionally come through on your brash predictions.
Ryan belittled the rival New York Giants all week leading up to Sunday's game, and then his team was trounced, 29-14. A couple weeks earlier Ryan warned all who would listen that they better watch out for the Jets if they make the playoffs because they'd be really dangerous.
The rest of the NFL playoff teams can now rest easy, since only a miracle will get Ryan's 8-7 team into the postseason. A loss to the Miami Dolphins this week leaves the Jets at .500, even though they have playoff-caliber talent.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs didn't hold back when he confronted Ryan after the game and reportedly said something like: "Now you can shut up, fatboy."
A lot of other people may feel the same way.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The dirtiest player in the NFL is also one of the most talented. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh is a difference maker when he can control his volatile emotions. When he doesn't play within the confines of the rulebook, he's just a petulant thug.
Suh could have also won an award for biggest phony. His much-hyped trip to New York for an audience with commissioner Roger Goodell was a cheap ploy meant to give the impression that he was sincerely interested in improving his tarnished image. Then he stomped on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Suh's soft-spoken and earnest demeanor off the field is a mask of his true character. He's a creep in sheep's clothing.
Most disappointing team:
Philadelphia Eagles. Dream Team my foot. The Eagles were more like a Nightmare on Elm Street.
In the free-agent flurry that followed the end of the work stoppage, it seemed as if the Eagles signed every big-name player available, but to no avail. They need to defeat the Washington Redskins on Sunday for a .500 season, which would actually be an accomplishment considering their 1-4 start.
Team Bipolar turned in dominant performances while beating the Jets (45-19) and Cowboys (34-7) but lost to the Giants (29-16), Patriots (38-20) and Seahawks (31-14).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers deserve an honorable mention here. Picked by many to be a playoff`team after a 10-6 2010, coach Raheem Morris' team fell flat on its collective face. After a 4-2 start, the Bucs have lost nine straight, and it's tough to see Morris surviving.
Some of the losses have been downright embarrassing, like 48-3 to the 49ers, 37-9 to the Texans, 38-19 and 48-16 to the six-win Panthers and 41-14 to the four-win Jaguars.
Most surprising team:
San Francisco 49ers. Coach Jim Harbaugh took over a team that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2002 and had averaged 6.5 victories over the past five seasons.
The 49ers had some quality players in place, but another former Bears player, former coach Mike Singletary, was incapable of getting them to play to their potential.
Harbaugh's greatest accomplishment has been getting quarterback Alex Smith to finally play like a first-round pick. A win Sunday over the wretched St. Louis Rams will send the Niners into the postseason with a 13-3 record.
Most surprising player:
Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos. His arm is substandard for a quarterback in the NFL, but it makes his success that much more unexpected. The former Heisman Trophy winner -- along with a great defense -- helped the Broncos to six straight wins before crashing to Earth the past two weeks with losses to the Patriots and Bills.
Before last week's 4-interception disaster, Tebow had 11 TD passes and just 2 picks.
Most disappointing player:
Sam Hurd, Bears. By all outward appearances, Hurd was a jovial, outgoing and friendly guy off the field and a hard-working, diligent and dedicated player on it. Appearances, apparently, can be deceiving, as he was cut by the Bears after getting arrested on drug charges.
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