Yes, that's Vinny Testaverde up there at the top of the NFL passing leaders.

Which means:a, It's a long season.

b, Testaverde has finally become what he was expected to be.

Assuming there's a little bit of truth to both, as the NFL season reaches the quarter pole, it's time to reward some guys whose season-long play might not merit any awards.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Art Shell, Los Angeles Raiders. Contrary to public belief, Al Davis does not coach this team as was proven when Mike Shanahan was there. Shell beat the Chicago Bears Sunday despite the absence of six starters, incluing Howie Long, Bruce Wilkerson and Mike Dyal. Plus, Bo Jackson, who'll arrive shortly.

Add: Marty Schottenheimer, Kansas City Chiefs, who quietly wins everywhere he goes; Mike Ditka, who has WILLED the Bears to 3-1, and Ray Perkins, who actually smiled when his Tampa Bay Bucs beat the Minnesota Vikings in overtime.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Testaverde, who actually is beginning to prove himself, bringing the Bucs back two weeks in a row, including a Joe Montana-like two-minute drive to tie the Vikings in a game that Tampa Bay finally won in overtime. Beyond that, the guy who set an NFC record with 35 interceptions two years ago has just two this year.

And Denver's Bobby Humphrey, who has rushed for 100 yards or more three times in four games.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Yes, he'll probably win it for the entire season, but how do you ignore Lawrence Taylor, who won't let himself be taken out of games even with the New York Giants comfortably ahead? And that with no training camp. So he might not last the season, and he may precipitate a brawl between Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, but he's still the game's most dominating force.

If you don't like Taylor, you have to love another couple of golden oldies, Ronnie Lott of the 49ers, who single-handedly (OK, Montana helped) won San Francisco's opener with New Orleans. Or Mike Singletary of the Bears, the hub of their revived defense.

Some good younger guys: Derrick Thomas, Chiefs; Rufus Porter, Seattle Seahawks; Trace Armstrong, Bears; Pepper Johnson, Giants; Jeff Cross, Miami Dolphins.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE: Far too early, but Johnny Johnson, a seventh-round pick, is the one bright spot in what looks like a dismal season to come for the Phoenix Cards. After four weeks, he leads the NFC in rushing with 303 yards.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE: They all laughed when the Bears took Mark Carrier with the sixth pick of the draft because he came cheap. No one's laughing now, although he'd have even more notoriety if he hadn't dropped an interception he could have turned into a touchdown against the Raiders.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS: There's no such official award, and if there were, it would be like All-Pro center - hereditary.

But the winner by acclamation after four weeks is Albert Lewis of the Chiefs, a late-signing Pro bowl cornerback, who has only blocked punts in his last three games.

Honorable mention: Reyna Thompson of the Giants, who has a knack for getting a hand on a punt returner's ankle before he can move.

COMEBACK PLAYERS: Gary Anderson of the Bucs, who's managed to gain a step while sitting out a year and is third in the NFC in rushing and second in total yards from scrimmage.