Happy New Year everybody! I apologize for no blog yesterday but I was downing IPA’s like they were Miller Lites and was in no position to begin my NFL postseason series blogs. I won’t be doing a playoff predictions segment as that would defeat the purpose of doing NFL picks, which I’ve decided to continue doing for the postseason, the first of which will be posted on Saturday instead of the usual Sunday. Haven’t decided yet if I’m going to do the entire Wild Card Round for the Saturday blog or if I’m going to do Saturday’s games on Saturday and Sunday’s games on Sunday. Stay tuned. But with the NFL regular season wrapped up, I’d like to start handing out some awards. Some of these will be real NFL awards, a few will be made up. But all of them mean something and each player will have to make room in their trophy case for what I’m handing out. So with that, on to the awards.
NFL MVP: Todd Gurley-RB-Los Angeles Rams
I’m going to get an earful from my friends and family for not choosing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for this, but looking at the overall stats, I didn’t feel like there was any other option. Not only has Gurley been a major part of the Rams sudden turnaround, but his stats are insane. He’s second in the NFL in rushing with 1305 yards and led the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns. He also was second amongst runningbacks with 788 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. So that’s 2093 yards from scrimmage with 19 touchdowns. The one knock I have against Gurley’s candidacy is his fumbling, which he led NFL runningbacks with 5. However, the fact that he carried the ball 279 times could be an explanation. I’m not sure where Gurley ranks in terms of fumble rate, as I lack the willpower to do all the math for every player, but I don’t think he’d be at the top of that list. As for Tom Brady, I was all in on his MVP candidacy until his streak of 5 straight games with an interception late in the season. Plus, his numbers started trending downwards by the end. Gurley only got better.
Others receiving consideration: Tom Brady-QB-New England Patriots
*Disclaimer* I’m not putting down an Offensive Player of the Year because Gurley would also win that. The argument would be repetitive.
Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell-DL-Jacksonville Jaguars
I won’t go too much into this, as I had Campbell as my midseason DPOTY in my midseason awards blog. Basically check out my segment on Campbell and reapply it to here. He kept at his rate from midseason. He finished tied for second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks and that came despite his playing primarily on the interior of the defensive line, where by nature he would take on double teams. You just don’t see that from guys outside of JJ Watt. Plus, Campbell’s presence helped this Jaguars defense take a gigantic leap from last year, as they went from a decent unit to arguably the best in the league. Guys like Dante Fowler Jr finally broke out and Yannick Ngakoue quietly became one of the league’s top pass rushers.
Others receiving consideration: Aaron Donald-DT-Los Angeles Rams, Chandler Jones-EDGE-Arizona Cardinals
Coach of the Year: Sean McVay-Los Angeles Rams
There were a few candidates for this spot, as there were a lot of breakout teams in 2017. But I’ve got to go with Rams rookie head coach Sean McVay for a couple reasons. Number 1 being the Rams had been totally stagnant for about a decade, never seeming to be able to rise above being 8-8 and coming off a disastrous first year in Los Angeles, as Jeff Fisher was fired midseason on the Amazon Prime series “All or Nothing.” They were the worst offense in the NFL in 2016 as well. Enter McVay. The Rams completely flipped and went from the worst scoring offense in 2016 (14.0 PPG) to the highest scoring offense in 2017 (29.9 PPG). Not bad from a guy who was younger than a large chunk of quarterbacks in the league (he was 31 when he was hired). But the biggest deciding factor for me for McVay being COTY is the development of Jared Goff. Goff was the #1 pick of the 2016 NFL Draft and he had a disastrous rookie year, as he went 0-7 as a starter and was already looking like a bust. Under McVay, however, Goff became one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, going 11-5 as a starter, finishing 10th in the NFL in passing yards at 3804, 3rd in yards per attempt at 7.98, tied for 5th in passing touchdowns with 28, and only threw 7 interceptions, which was fewer than the totals of Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and even Tom Brady. That’s the difference a good coach can make.
Others receiving consideration: Sean McDermott-Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone-Jacksonville Jaguars, Doug Pederson-Philadelphia Eagles, Bill Belichick-New England Patriots
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara-RB-New Orleans Saints
Kamara did it all for the Saints this year. He ran, he caught, and he returned kicks on occasion. He was third amongst rookies in rushing yards with 728 on only 120 carries for an average of 6.1 YPC, which led all NFL runningbacks. This came despite the fact that he was sharing a backfield with Mark Ingram, who was having a great season in his own right. Kamara also was a great pass catcher for the Saints, as he had 81 catches out of the backfield for 826 yards, trailing only Steelers standout Juju Smith-Schuster and Rams stud Cooper Kupp for rookie receiving yards. And he’s a runningback. He also took a kick to the house against the Buccaneers in Week 17 and averaged 31.5 yards per kick return (granted he only returned 11 kicks, but still, that’s a terrific rate). Alvin Kamara is my clear favorite for OROTY. Now if only he’d get rid of that damn septum ring. God I hate those things. I don’t know how people can think they look good.
Others receiving consideration: Kareem Hunt-RB-Kansas City Chiefs, Juju Smith-Schuster-WR-Pittsburgh Steelers, Leonard Fournette-RB-Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore-CB-New Orleans Saints
The Saints have ROTYs on both sides of the ball, it seems. Lattimore ranked among the best cornerbacks in the NFL, leading what has actually been a really good class for rookie cornerbacks, as Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White and Dallas’ Jourdan Lewis also had strong seasons. Lattimore was consistently put on the opposing team’s best receiver and had 5 interceptions this season, including a streak of 3 games in a row with a pick towards the end of the season, including one he caught with his ass.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lattimore was graded as the 5th best corner in the NFL and graded amongst the game’s elites. He looks like he has a long, successful career ahead of him.
Others receiving consideration: Tre’Davious White-CB-Buffalo Bills, Carl Lawson-EDGE-Cincinnati Bengals
Comeback Player of the Year: Rob Gronkowski-TE-New England Patriots
2016 was a lost season for Gronk. He was always injured and missed out on the Patriots’ amazing run to their victory in Super Bowl LI. I even read articles that suggested that Gronk is now expendable for the Patriots and could be the next in their high-profile cuts. How did he respond? Only with 69 catches (which I swear he did on purpose) and led all NFL tight ends with 1084 yards (which was 10th in the entire league) to go along with 8 touchdowns. At 28 years old, Gronk continues to show the league why he is the absolute best.
Others receiving consideration: Keenan Allen-WR-Los Angeles Chargers
Breakout Player of the Year: Jared Goff-QB-Los Angeles Rams
As I highlighted in my defense of Sean McVay being COTY, Goff was a borderline bust heading into his second NFL season. The Rams gave up a fortune to the Titans to pick him as they were looking to make a splash with their return to Los Angeles. Well that move was looking like a disaster as Goff was absolutely dreadful in 2016, going 0-7 as a starter, completing only 54% of his passes, while throwing only 5 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. But he did a complete 180 in 2017, where he was about as efficient as any quarterback in the NFL.
Others receiving consideration: Adam Thielen-WR-Minnesota Vikings, Marquise Goodwin-WR-San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo-QB-San Francisco 49ers
Play of the Year: DeAndre Hopkins Touchdown Catch on Christmas Day vs Steelers
Others receiving consideration: Maurice Harris one-handed touchdown vs Vikings, Tarik Cohen punt return TD vs 49ers
My Favorite Player of 2017: Tarik Cohen-RB-Chicago Bears
Tarik Cohen’s nickname “The Human Joystick” perfectly sums up the type of player he is. He’s only 5’6, but he’s nearly impossible to catch in the open field. Just look at this punt return against the 49ers, which nearly won for my play of the year.
He also likes to do things like this in his spare time.
This kid’s an electric factory.
Others receiving consideration: Carson Wentz-QB-Philadelphia Eagles, Tyreek Hill-WR-Kansas City Chiefs
That’s it for my NFL Awards segment. Check back in tomorrow when I rank each NFL player by position, followed by my Top 100 players. Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.