The 1st Quarter Beatdown Awards: Baltimore Ravens

Rob Carr - Getty Images

Even though the Baltimore Ravens are already a game into the second quarter of the 2012 regular season, let's look back at the first quarter and hand out some awards through the first four games.

Even though the Baltimore Ravens are already a game into the second quarter of the 2012 regular season, let's look back at the first quarter and hand out some awards through the first four games. The Beatdown Awards are among the most cherished and little-known honors that can bestowed upon a player on the Baltimore Ravens. Just because you never heard of them doesn't mean they don't exist.

There are five categories to hand out the coveted Purple wing statues for: Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP, Outstanding Rookie, Unsung Hero and the reverse-psychology award, Time To Step Up. Let' get right to it.

Offensive MVP

The nominees are:

QB Joe Flacco - Flacco threw for over 1,260 yards in the first four games, which projects to over 5,000 for the season, which would easily be his best season ever. He averaged over 300 passing yards per game and seems to have a new confidence level not seen in his previous four seasons.

RB Ray Rice - Rice had 317 rushing yards and added 22 receptions for 174 yards in the first quarter of the season. He would be on pace for close to 2,000 all-purpose yards, similar to last year'stops in the NFL.

WR Torrey Smith - Smith might only be fourth on the team in receptions, but his 20 yards per catch average is the best in the league for anyone with at least 15 receptions. His 3 TD catches are the most on the team and project out to a dozen for the season.

And the winner is...Joe Flacco! This was a tough one, as the decision was between Flacco and Smith. However, someone had to get Torrey the ball and that means Joe has the edge.

Defensive MVP

The nominees are:

Ray Lewis - Duh, the guy keep racking up the stats, leading the team in tackles once again. He may not be much in pass coverage, but he still makes tackles as well as anyone.

Ed Reed - Another duh, but Reed once again leads the Ravens in interceptions and has to be in the mix for this award.

Dannell Ellerbe - Yes, this is nt a typo and a huge upset in the making. Ellerbe deserves to be nominated, as heis second on the team in tackles, first in sacks and also has a forced fumble. After seemingly in the doghouse last year, he has rebounded and is on track for a solid 2012 season.

And the winner is...Ray Lewis! Lewis is still the king on this team and I not only believes he deserves this, I well, just don't want to piss him off if he were to find out he was passed over for it. Which I know he would.

Outstanding Rookie

The nominees are:

Kelechi Osemele - Originally a surprise starter at right tackle, Osemele has look downright nasty-good at times, athletic and aggressive. However, he has also looked downright nasty-bad, getting schooled and whiffing on pass blocking assignments.

Courtney Upshaw - The injury to Terrell Suggs opened up the opportunity to start right off the bat and Upshaw has looked like a top-15 draft talent at times. He may be rounding into better shape byt appears to be on his way to being a star at outside linebacker.

Justin Tucker - The undrafted plcekicker beat out the veteran Billy Cundiff and has made the decision look brilliant so far, nailing 11 of 12 attempts including both at 50+ yards. His booming kickoffs usually end up deep or out of the end zone, limiting opponents attempts at a long return.

And the winner is...Justin Tucker! Tucker has been a pleasant surprise with a strong leg that has passed every test he's been given. A game-winner over the Patriots and two long kicks against the Eagles have him the run-away winner in this category.

Unsung Hero

And the nominees are...

Jacoby Jones - Jones was signed as a free agent and has performed a lot better than the two previous guys picked to the the team's #3 receivers, Donte Stallworth and Lee Evans. Jones is averaging close to 19 yards a catch and has averaged nine yards per punt return.

Bernard Pollard - Pollard simply plays "Like a Raven." There is not a harder hitting safety who drives fear into the hearts of anyone coming over the deep middle of the field. Combined with Ed Reed, this pair is arguably the best in the NFL interms of complementing each other with their different skills.

Dannell Ellerbe - see above

And the winner is...Dannell Ellerbe! His path to success this year was totally unexpected, as between Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain, the probability that Dannell would get the reps to even be considered for this honor were slim. If indeed this is Lewis' final season, then the combination of McClain and Ellerbe at inside linebacker is not one to be worried about.

Time To Step Up

The nominees are:

Paul Kruger - The outside linebacker was a second round draft pick and his timet o put up or shut up is now. Kruger has always been known to rush the passer, but now his responsibilities include setting the edge in run defense and also dropping into pass coverage.

Michael Oher - The starter at left tackle in the wake of the Bryant McKinnie disappointment needs to consistently protect Joe Flacco's blind side a lot better than he has so far. False start penalties are a common occurrence and need to disappear.

Cary Williams - Yeah, williams got his first career interception and it was also a pick-six, but he has been targeted and burned repeatedly so far this season. For a guy who turned down a 3-year, $15 million contract extension because he felt he was worth more, he needs to worry more about losing his starting job to Jimmy Smith than getting a new contract.

And the winner is...Paul Kruger! Remember, this award was given out based on the first four games, not including the one this past week against the Kansas City Chiefs.That said, perhaps Kruger is on his way to not being considered for this award in the future.

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