CB McKelvin an electrifying rookie (Associated Press)
The Buffalo Bills have officially ended their 2008 regular season with a 7-9 record. We've experienced some great thrills (a 5-1 start with unbridled optimism) and the lowest of lows (two wins in the final ten games to miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season). We here at Buffalo Rumblings are ready to cut the losses we incurred this past season and launch immediately into off-season mode, but those plans can wait at least one more day. First, we need closure on the incredibly disappointing 2008 season.
How best to get said closure? Simple: hand out some awards. Therefore, welcome, Rumblers, to the Buffalo Rumblings Unceremoniously Puts 2008 Behind Us ASAP Awards Show, where the few bright spots of this past season are acknowledged and everything else is summed up into one big word: mediocrity.
Note: Buffalo Rumblings is not responsible for the fact that it took all of 20 minutes to put this "glory" list together. I mean, we're not the ones playing craptastic football or making ginormous coaching blunders on various professional football fields. This one's on you, Bills organization.
The Reason We're Still Sane Award goes to... RB Marshawn Lynch
- I am not completely certain where I would be as a Bills fan without Marshawn Lynch. No matter how poorly his teammates or playing or how badly his team is getting pummeled, Lynch shows up and produces week in and week out. He's rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his two professional seasons and has scored 16 touchdowns in that time frame. Kid's good.
The Reason We'll Come Back Next Year Award goes to... QB Trent Edwards
- Sure, his career passer rating is just 79.1. Yes, he's thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (18 each) in his brief career. Absolutely, he's injury prone and still green as an NFL signal-caller. But the Bills haven't had a quarterback this good since Drew Bledsoe, but Edwards isn't nearly as spectacular at costing his team games as Bledsoe was. Trent Edwards has a future, and it's a bright one in this league. Until that bright future is dimmed by more inconsistent play, I'll cling to the ray of hope that Trent provides us with great fervor.
The Most Valuable Player (Proportionally Speaking) Award goes to... RB Fred Jackson
- It would have been very easy to throw Lynch's name in here, and it's likely the Bills wouldn't have won half the games they did without Lynch in the lineup. He's very good. But Fred Jackson deserves this award. He's played second fiddle to Lynch his entire career; he's become a vital part of this offense, but he's still underutilized. He never complains. He returns kicks and punts. He's an excellent receiver and a solid blocker. Jackson is the embodiment of "do whatever is asked of you" - and he does it all brilliantly. Freddie has earned himself a contract extension, and his versatility and overall awesomeness makes him this year's Most Valuable Bill.
The Rookie of the Year (by default) Award goes to... CB Leodis McKelvin
- That's not to say McKelvin isn't a bright spot for this team. Already one of the NFL's elite kick returners, McKelvin improved dramatically throughout the season at cornerback. He looks like a lock to be a starter next season, and is one of the team's few playmakers.
The Coach of the Year (by default) Award goes to... Bobby April
- Because, well, when he or his unit sucked, he fixed it. One of the best special teams coordinators in the entire league.
The 'Wow, SO Glad You're Leaving' Award goes to... QB J.P. Losman
- The unrestricted (at least in theory) free agent has gaffed away his last Bills victory. Nothing more needs to be said. Good luck in the future, Mr. Losman.
The Most Hated Bill Award goes to... OT Jason Peters
- Holdout, sucky play upon return, gets it together for a couple of games, gives up a big sack to cost us a divisional win, gets hurt, still makes Pro Bowl, has more negotiating leverage than ever, another holdout possibly looming. Peters had a great season, but he's certainly not popular by any stretch of the imagination. But hey, have fun in Hawaii, Jason.
The Where's Waldo? Award goes to... DE Aaron Schobel
- Dealing with a foot injury, Schobel appeared in just five games this season, registering one sack. He'll be 32 years old when the 2009 season kicks off. Is he officially "over the hill"? If he's not, he's dangerously close to it.
The 'Do You Know Where You'll Be Working Next Week?' Award goes to... Dick Jauron
- What else is there to say that y'all haven't covered ad nauseam already? Jauron is a great man and is well-respected in the league, but the man has struggled to win in his eight-year head coaching career. He's 56-72 in those 8 years, meaning that in an average year, his team is 7-9 (good stat, twoeightnine). He's been 7-9 in each of his first three seasons. Good guy or not, Ralph Wilson likely isn't satisfied with that production. We're officially on Jauron Job Watch.
The 'Should You Re-Think That Extension?' Award goes to... WR Lee Evans
- Evans signed a four-year, $37.25 million extension with $18.25 million guaranteed on October 2. Evans didn't have a bad season, catching 63 passes for 1,017 yards - his second career 1,000-yard season - and scored three touchdowns. But this is a player in his prime that's still dealing with questions at head coach and quarterback. Should you maybe have thought longer on this new deal, Lee?
The 'Wouldn't It Be Sweet If He Came To Buffalo?' Award goes to... Bill Cowher
- Only problem is, Cowher is winning this award in about a dozen other NFL cities, too.
The Easiest Player to Replace Award goes to... TE Robert Royal
- His contract is modest, his blocking is subpar and his hands are chiseled from granite. The Bills have two solid young reserve-type tight ends; now it's time to get themselves an actual starter.
The Most Popular College Player in Buffalo Award goes to... Cal C Alex Mack
- Y'all are crazy about this guy, and for good reason. Duke Preston sealed his reputation as a moron by costing his team three points yesterday, and while Melvin Fowler isn't a moron, he's also not a very good center. You're going to hear Mack's name a lot over the next five months.
The Welcome to Ralph's 'Inner Circle' Award goes to... Tom Modrak
- It's going to be a long off-season, and Mr. Modrak will now be charged with more personnel power in Buffalo. Time will tell if the idea pays off.
If you've got awards you'd like to hand out as well, feel free. Consider this your last 2008-centric post; it's almost relieving to say that. From here, we'll begin positional reviews as we build toward putting together our Community Needs list. Welcome to the off-season, folks.