Tis' the Season for this year's Aros Awards. Now admittedly the first and only Aros Awards was long before NET was on the Scout network, the entire interface was blue (with white font!) and the retro jerseys weren't even retro yet. So without further delay, it's time to get down to it.
SEAHAWK OF THE YEAR: Olindo Mare
Who knew at the start of 2008 that the veteran kicker and Josh Brown replacement would be the most reliable and clutch player on the team? Mare's stats are better than Josh Brown's this season and makes President Tim Ruskell's decision to carry an extra kicker - at the cost of a premium roster spot - look all the more absurd and foolish.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Carlson
Carlson has already broken the franchise record by a tight end for most receptions (51) and yards (601) with two games to play. Sure he's made rookie mistakes along the way but that is expected out of any rookie in the much faster-paced NFL. With each game Carlson showcases the solid play and excellent position skills that will have Seahawks fans smiling for years to come.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Trufant
Every great player has a game where he plays poorly. Don't let Trufant's game against Miami fool you. Marcus is playing at a high level coming off his pro bowl season. Teams show their respect for his talent by how many times they don't throw his way. He'll miss the trip across the pond in February but that is more a reflection of the Seahawks poor season than anything Trufant has - or hasn't done - all year.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: John Carlson
(See: Offensive Player of the Year.)
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING AWARD: Julius Jones
This award is not a reflection on Jones' abilities, but more a reflection of the organization bringing Jones in only to have him largely relegated merely as backup duty for Maurice Morris. Now giving Morris his due, he's had some fine games for the Seahawks in 2008 but Mike Holmgren's running back by committee approach doesn't seem to be the best thing for Jones nor the Seahawks.
Julius Jones is a better running back than Maurice Morris. Like most backs, he needs his reps to get into the flow of the game. By taking the ball out of his hands except for sprinkled moments here and there, it's doing nobody any favors and it is just one in a list of examples that suggest a power play and differences in philosophy in the front office and coaching staff in 2008.
DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YA ON THE WAY OUT AWARD: John Marshall
Perhaps no other person in the Seahawks organization has a target on their back for a long overdue pink slip by the fans other than defensive coordinator John Marshall. His inability to scheme a defense loaded with talent effectively has been a primary reason for the collective rise in fan's blood pressure over the past two years.
Weaver has done nothing since taking over for the great Mack Strong other than help fans forget about Mack Strong. Not that the fans will ever forget Strong and all he meant to this franchise but he has certainly eased the pain during the transition.
Weaver has become such a dominant blocker with a penchant for making plays that one almost forgets the brief period of time he struggled to learn the position. The Seahawks would be best served to get him signed to a long term contract so there is no need to worry about using the franchise tag on him.
Leroy Hill has suffered through some injuries but any diehard Seahawks fan knows this guy's worth. A vicious hitter and blitzer (when utilized properly), Hill could very well be - as perennial pro bowlers Peterson and Tatupu insist - the best linebacker on the team.
Now that's really saying something.
PLEASE LET THIS GUY GO AWARD: Courtney Taylor
All talk and no action comes to mind here. Courtney possesses the over confidence that seems to be a prerequisite for NFL wideouts these days but little else. While perhaps not a complete waste of a spot on the practice squad, Taylor may better be served finding a new career.
Jennings has flat out been a disappointment since being drafted. Sure he shows flashes of why Ruskell drafted him but his lack of size - a maddening fetish of Ruskell's for his cornerbacks - is a detriment pure and simple. Jennings needs to start producing or find someone who can.
Russell has regressed from last year. Perhaps he never was that great of a safety from an athletic and talent perspective but he had the smarts that the team lacked in 2006. He helped fill a position that was in serious need of overhaul and exceeded in 2007. In 2008 he has been the poster boy for a defense that was supposed to be great, and instead just a big disappointment.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Lofa Tatupu
From his DUI arrest and conviction to his injured hand and disappearing act in most games, no other high profile, talented player on the Seahawks has been more of a disappointment than Lofa Tatupu. I have a good feeling Lofa will come back in 2009 with a vengeance.
BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR AWARD: Deion Branch's 63-yard scamper.
Against the Patriots, Deion Branch looked every bit the player we hoped for when we traded our first round draft pick. Branch took a short pass by Seneca Wallace and turned it into a 63-yard play - thanks to textbook blocking by Koren Robinson, John Carlson and others - by far the most exciting play of 2008. On the same drive, Branch finished with a truly exceptional one-handed grab for a touchdown.
THE TRUE LEADER AWARD: Seneca Wallace
On the road against the Rams, the Seahawks - and especially Seneca - were getting pummeled in the first half. After taking an especially brutal hit, Seneca got up and started screaming at his teammates, pumping his fists and really letting them have it. He did it in a way that showed everyone that the sleepwalking was inexcusable and it was time to wake up. In the second half, the team responded coming back to win the game.
THE SAD TO SEE YOU GO AWARD: Mike Holmgren
Nobody wanted to see Mike Holmgren go out this way. However, not even a lost season will tarnish the history of Holmgren and what he meant to this franchise. While some fans may be quick to want new, less conservative blood, most fans will miss this man and what he brought to this team. I know I will miss him tremendously.