It’s NFL Award season. See our NFL team’s picks for each of the awards.
With another NFL season nearly in the books, it’s time to hand out the annual NFL awards. Before they are given out officially, our SQ team voted on who we believe is the most deserving of each award.
MVP: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Voting Results: Tom Brady (7 votes), Todd Gurley (4)
Brady just put together what might have been his most impressive season yet. At the age of 40, there were talks about a potential step back for the two-time MVP, but the 2017 season was far from that. He finished the year with nearly 4,600 yards and 32 touchdowns while leading the Patriots to yet another AFC East title.
It is tough to give this award to anyone else simply because there weren’t any other clear-cut candidates. Carson Wentz was in line to win this award until he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 14. Considering he still finished the season as the passing touchdown leader with 33, it’s fairly safe to say he could have reached 40 touchdowns and ran away with this award had he stayed healthy and finished with the number-one seed in the NFC.
Then there’s Gurley, who came on as the hot candidate late in the season when he had back-to-back games with over 200 total yards and a combined six touchdowns. Although he had a great season, at the running back position, he simply didn’t do enough to win the MVP.
In the last 15 NFL seasons there have been only three running backs to win MVP: Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson. In 2005 when Alexander won the award, he tied the record for NFL rushing touchdowns in a season with 27. The year after, Tomlinson claimed that record when he won the award with 28 rushing touchdowns. Then in 2012 when Peterson won the award, he rushed for over 2000 yards. For a running back to win in today’s NFL, he needs to have historical numbers, and while Gurley’s season was impressive, it isn’t enough to win what has been a quarterback-dominated award.
Brady was clearly above the rest of the pack.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Voting Results: Todd Gurley (8 votes), Antonio Brown (2), Carson Wentz (1)
While Gurley didn’t have a good enough season to win the MVP, he did more than enough to deserve the OPOY award. He was the featured back in the NFL’s highest scoring offense. In 15 games, Gurley racked up 1,305 yards rushing and 788 yards receiving, with a league-leading combined 19 touchdowns. He was dominant down the stretch, including in a game in Seattle, which at that point was for the NFC West lead.
In the final three games Gurley played (Weeks 14-16), he averaged nearly 200 total yards per game and had eight touchdowns. His value to the Rams’ success this season was undeniable, as all five of their losses were in games where Gurley had less than 100 rushing yards.
Brown and Wentz were the other two players who received votes from our team, but both missed games down the stretch that crippled their resumes. Despite missing two and a half games, Brown led the league in receiving yards with 1,533 on 101 catches with nine touchdowns. Had he finished the season healthy, and more importantly finished the New England game healthy, it’s quite probable that he could’ve helped Pittsburgh win that game and finished with the first seed in the AFC. Had that happened, we probably would be talking about Brown as a potential MVP.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Voting Results: Aaron Donald (8 votes), Calais Campbell (1), Chandler Jones (1), Cameron Jordan (1)
After holding out all of training camp and missing Week 1’s game against the Colts, Donald returned and was just as disruptive on defense as he has been his whole career. Since joining the league in 2014, Donald has been a four-time Pro Bowler and has made first team All-Pro three times. This season he led the Rams’ defense with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles, helping them rank top five in takeaways. The 2017 season might have been Donald’s best as a professional, which should lead to his wish for a big payday being granted.
Although our voting has this award as a pretty lop-sided victory for Donald, it is much closer than it appears. Campbell, Jones, and Jordan were all very deserving of receiving this award. Campbell led the Jaguars’ defense in sacks with 14.5, and they finished second in the league with 55. What will probably prevent Campbell from winning our DPOY award is that the Jaguars’ defense is so good at almost every position, so it is tough to single one player out.
Jones had a league-leading 17 sacks, but when your team misses the playoffs it is very difficult to win this type of an award. Since 2000, only four players have won DPOY when their team missed the playoffs. The last to do so was J.J. Watt in 2014 when he had 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception.
Lastly, there’s Jordan, who had an impressive year with 13 sacks and led the Saints’ defense to a resurgent year. However, he didn’t do enough to beat out these other candidates. He had less sacks than Campbell and Jones, and while he did have more sacks than Donald, that’s only because he played two more games.
Donald made such a profound impact in his 14 games of action that he should win this award.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Voting Results: Alvin Kamara (8 votes), Kareem Hunt (3)
After starting the season 0-2, New Orleans burst onto the scene with Kamara in the lead and went on to an 11-3 record the rest of the way. He was the third rookie running back in NFL history to finish the season with greater than 600 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards, and that was only in the first 13 games. He ended the season with 728 rushing yards and 826 receiving yards, with a combined 13 touchdowns.
Kamara had an outstanding season, but the injury bug once again played a huge role in who won this award. Deshaun Watson had 19 touchdown passes before going down with an ACL injury in Week 8. At that pace he would’ve run away with this award, especially considering he didn’t even start Week 1.
Additionally, Hunt had an amazing year out of the gates, but the mediocre middle of the season is what ultimately gave this award to Kamara. Hunt went nine weeks without having a touchdown (Week 4 through Week 12). During this stretch, he finished five games with fewer than 50 yards rushing. Had Hunt been more consistent the entire year, he would’ve had a very realistic shot of winning rookie of the year.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
Voting Results: Marshon Lattimore (7 votes), Tre’Davious White (3), TJ Watt (1)
New Orleans had by far the most productive 2017 NFL draft class in the league. Their other first-round pick Ryan Ramczyk started all 16 games for one of the best offensive lines in the league, Kamara was the rookie of the year on offense, and then Lattimore had arguably the best season by a rookie corner ever.
In 13 games he forced six turnovers, including five interceptions, one of which went back for a touchdown. He forced offenses to throw away from his side of the field because of his ability to play man coverage. He allowed the third lowest passer rating when opposing teams targeted him and only allowed one wide receiver to have more than 38 yards against him. He was a game-changing player on the Saints’ defense and was a clear choice for this award.
White and Watt both had solid seasons as well. White finished the year with four interceptions and helped the Buffalo Bills end their 17-year playoff drought. Watt came into the season trying to make a name for himself, as he wanted to eliminate the “he’s J.J. Watt’s brother” narrative. He definitely had a good start to that in Week 1 when he came out of the gates with two sacks and an interception. He finished the year with seven sacks and the lone interception. While both players were very good this year, this was Lattimore’s award to lose all season long.
Comeback Player Of The Year: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Voting Results: Keenan Allen (6 votes) Jared Goff (2), Todd Gurley (2), Justin Houston (1)
Allen’s is such a good story because he has had so many obstacles to overcome in his career. He essentially had missed the previous two seasons with injuries before returning this year to play 16 games and finish top five in receptions. He collected a career-high 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. Unfortunately for Allen, these incredible stats didn’t translate into a playoff appearance for the Chargers, but his individual accolades are more than enough to warrant winning this award.
Goff, Gurley, and Houston were all terrific candidates to win this award as well. After going 0-7 in his rookie year as a starter, Goff led the Rams to a 11-4 record and their first NFC West title since 2004. Gurley’s success this season is already pretty well documented, but after a down year in 2016 where he didn’t even crack 900 yards rushing, he definitely is worthy of consideration for comeback player of the year. Houston had a career-low four sacks in 2016 and came back this season to more than double that with nine and a half sacks. However, all three of these candidates simply don’t have the comeback story Allen does, so his personal success gave him the nod in our results.
Coach Of The Year: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Voting Results: Sean McVay (7 votes), Doug Pederson (1), Bill Belichick (1), Sean Payton (1), Doug Marrone (1)
McVay winning coach of the year to wrap up the Rams’ excellent award season is to no one’s surprise. He turned Jeff Fisher’s atrocity of a 4-12 team into an 11-5 division winner who had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations before being upset in the Wild Card round by Atlanta. Mcway took the 32nd ranked scoring offense and transformed them into the highest scoring team in the NFL, which is just an amazing feat in its own right.
McVay was the clear-cut frontrunner to win this award. No other coach received more than one vote, so while other coaches had good seasons, none were on the level of McVay.
Edited by Jazmyn Brown.
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