My awards for the 2011 season
There have been many seasons in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where handing out annual awards is a bit like rewarding the Weight Watchers Slimmer of the year when they've put on three stone!
This season was as bad as any on record for the men in either pewter or creamsicle, the way that the team basically gave up and let very average NFL teams run up a cricket score on them home and away. The staff knew they were about to be on the breadline and the players knew it too and let them take the bullet with some very mediocre effort in the late season.
So all in the all the franchise lays in ruins on the floor and the list of Head Coach suitors couldn't be more unexciting if it included Mr Boring who is Major of Boringtown. Anyway onward to this year's awards...
Offensive Player of Year - Davin Joseph
This was a hard one. Williams, Blount and Freeman all didn't get anywhere near the level they achieved in 2010 and so weren't really a consideration. Kellen Winslow made a lot of catches but very few scores and in comparison to other top NFL tight ends wasn't in the same league.
The only area of the team that even deserved consideration was the offensive line. Even within this group it came down to the Bucs two Pro Bowlers, Donald Penn and Davin Joseph. Early in the season Penn took on and handled the NFL's best Defensive Ends but his play, like so many others, dropped off considerably towards the latter part of the season. The only man who played at a consistently high level was Davin Joseph. For that reason Davin takes home the gong.
Defensive Player of Year - Adrian Clayborn
Like the offensive player this one didn't have a large number of candidates. Gerald McCoy spent another season as Head Cheerleader and the Buccaneers secondary had worse coverage than a phone on the 3 Network.
The only three players who played all year at a top level were two rookies and an old man. If that season proves to be Ronde Barber's last then he can honestly say that throughout his NFL career he never let his standards drop. Mason Foster had a great first year, especially when you consider he was playcalling for the defense all year too.
My vote however goes to the beast that is Adrian Clayborn. The Buccaneers have not had a sack machine at defensive end since Simeon Rice left for Planet Simeon. This guy looks the real deal and could be one of the NFL's top rushers in years to come.
Special Teams Player of Year - Connor Barth
Michael Koenen came in on BIG money this year and did well as our new punter and kickoff man but when you have the success rate that Connor Barth had this season this one was easy. Barth has been like clockwork for the Bucs this year and has regularly looked like our best, and probably only, chance to score in recent games. I was tempted to go for fumble machine returner Preston Parker obviously...
Rookie of the Year - Adrian Clayborn
For all the reasons above and many more Clayborn comes back to the stage to collect his second award of the evening. Mason Foster gets an honourable mention here for taking on so much in his rookie year and was a big upgrade on Barrett "tackle for a 12 yard gain" Ruud.
NFL Player of the Year - Drew Brees
I really like Aaron Rodgers and I think lots of other players have had great seasons but when you not just break, but smash, possibly the greatest Quarterback ever to play the game's records then you deserve to be called the best player in the NFL. I should say at this point that if Tom Brady had done this he would not be receiving this award, as I find him thoroughly annoying in just about every way.
Brees has been a phenom in recent years and my biggest regret of 2011's Fantasy competition was not somehow finding a way to have him on my team. I was too busy spending big bucks on people who were either inactive or just crap.
Favourite Current Buccaneer - Adrian Clayborn
Adrian is back up again for his third trophy of the night. It's about time the Buccaneers had a nasty edge to them. Sapp gave us it in the early 2000's and we've not had it since. This man gives us just that. He is an animal and anyone who saw the hit he put on Matt Ryan earlier this season will agree with me.
Having had the pleasure of meeting him (while wearing my Clayborn jersey) he is a really nice, softly spoken guy but put a helmet and pads on him and he can run through walls. I can't wait to see what this guy becomes in the next few seasons.
Bob Timoney Award for the Buccaneer of the Year - Brian Ford
Anyone who attended any of the fantastic Wembley events in October (a thank you to the wife for allowing me to do so with a four week old baby at the time) will surely agree with this award. Brian Ford has done so much for the Bucs UK this year, including two trips to Tampa with tours etc and all the Wembley events. The man is a true friend of the club and I am really looking forward to taking the family over to Tampa to meet Brian again and buy him a beer to say thanks...after he's given me a guided tour.
Allan Lees Award for the Writer of the Year - Martin Fennelly
Year after year I find Martin's coverage of the Buccaneers funny, insightful and honest. He does tell it like it is and I like that. He isn't critical for the sake of it but makes his point, even if it is slightly controversial. As I've said before he is the man I based my writing style on and I continue to read his work before any other when catching up on the press coverage of the latest Buccaneer hammering.
Nick Halling Award for the Dickhead of the Year - Greg Olson
And finally...with the memory of Nick Halling on NFL related programming now a distant memory (although he now ruins my enjoyment of boxing on Sky!) his memory lives on with our next award.
Many in the NFL qualify for this such as Ndamukong Suh for getting all stampy. Many Buccaneers qualify simply due to their performance this season but this vote for me came down to two men, Raheem Morris and Greg Olson. Both were behind the biggest example of the wheels falling off since AC Milan got out the pipe and slippers at half time in the 2005 Champions League Final.
Raheem's defense was bad...really bad, and of course he was (supposed to be) steering the ship too, but I think the biggest problem for the Buccaneers this year was the Offense and for that reason your winner...Greg Olson.
In a single year he managed to destroy all confidence in Josh Freeman, call the most baffling set of plays you'll ever see and apparently make up his game plan on the fly. Our offense being so bad meant our defense was on the field too much and other teams had too much of the ball. Both men are now, thankfully, gone and whoever takes over the offensive playcalling can't be any worse than olson. Dickhead.
Thank you all for watching and if you turn over to ITV 13+1 now you can see THE 2012 BUCPOWER AWARDS Xtra hosted by Dave Cambridge and Ian Papworth.