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NFL New York Jets

New York Jets Midseason Awards

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New York Jets Midseason Awards

smith
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

At the halfway point of the season, the New York Jets are 4-4 and playoff contenders in the AFC. They have exceeded almost every preseason expectation, and the future suddenly looks bright in New York. The Jets have been wildly inconsistent and still have a long way to go to become a playoff team, but they are still very pleased with where they stand.

The Jets have relied on their defense to get this far, led by Muhammad Wilkerson and David Harris. The Jets’ defense had a horrible game in their last outing against the Cincinnati Bengals, but overall this has been one of the better units in the league.

Offensively, rookie Geno Smith has been up and down, but he has proven that he is the quarterback of the future. He has looked like a potential star at times, and the Jets need him to smooth out the roller coaster ride he has been leading them on.

There have been several outstanding individual performances throughout this season, and several of the players here are candidates for the Pro Bowl and NFL awards at the end of the season. Each of these players has played a huge role for the Jets, and they would not be where they are without these contributions.

However, half of a season still leaves a lot of work to do, and each of these players needs to continue to improve. The best teams consistently get high level performances from their best players, and the Jets need these players to continue to perform at that level.

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MVP: Muhammad Wilkerson

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There could not be an easier pick than this. Wilkerson is hands down the best player on the team and in my opinion the second best 3-4 end in the NFL (to J.J. Watt), and he has been nothing short of outstanding this season. Wilkerson has 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception in the first half, and he has been dominant against the run all year.

Wilkerson 100% deserves to go the Pro Bowl this season, and he could even find his way onto a few Defensive Player of Year ballots. This season is the breakout year for a new star, and he should be a nearly unstoppable force on the Jets’ defensive line for the foreseeable future.

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Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith

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Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have struggled at times offensively this season, but Smith has been their most important player. There have been changes at wide receiver and running back, and the line has not played up to their ability at times. Smith has been very inconsistent, but he has led the Jets to some big wins.

Smith has thrown for 1,882 yards, 8 TDs and 13 INTs so far in his rookie season. Obviously, he needs to cut way back on the turnovers, but he is in his first season in a pro-style offense and still has a lot to learn. The Jets hope that he will make major strides in the second half of the season, and they could be a playoff team if he does.

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Defensive Player of the Year: David Harris

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Wilkerson winning MVP, DPOY goes to Harris, who has regained his form following a down season in 2012. Harris leads the team with 58 tackles, and he has 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble to go with them. Harris is the backbone of the defense and its leader, and he has been crucial for the Jets’ top ranked run defense.

Harris was an All-Pro in 2009, and although he is not quite at that level this year, he is still a Pro Bowl candidate. The Jets need him to continue performing at this level, as their defense will be the biggest reason for any success the rest of the season.

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Rookie of the Year: Sheldon Richardson

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Pretty easy one here too. The Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson with the pick they acquired for Darrelle Revis, and they hit an absolute home run. Richardson is a star in the making, and his 37 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble don’t tell the true story of his effectiveness.

Richardson has been dominant against the run, and he consistently controls the line of scrimmage and occupies multiple blockers. He is also explosive enough to get into the backfield frequently against both the run and pass. He is not just the Jets’ rookie of the year, he is among the leading candidates for the league wide award.

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Most Improved Player: Demario Davis

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

All offseason, Rex Ryan raved about Demario Davis and the player he could become. Davis has backed up his coach’s words, and he is second on the team with 56 tackles, while adding a sack and a fumble recovery.

Davis has also been very good in pass coverage this season, often drawing the responsibility of the opposition’s tight end or running back. He is by far the Jets’ fastest linebacker, and he has been very good pursuing ball carriers and preventing big plays. The Jets would like to see more from Davis as a pass rusher, but he should continue to grow in leaps and bounds as the season progresses.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google