2017 Talk of Fame Network awards: It’s year of the Rams


(Photo courtesy of L.A. Rams)

We just completed the 2017 NFL season and are about to fast-forward to the 2017 NFL playoffs. Which means … which means, the time is ideal to wheel out our 2017 NFL awards, rewarding the few, the proud, the L.A. Rams.

Our awards are decided by a three-person board, with Rick Gosselin and me joined by NFL historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal. John not only is a frequent contributor to our site but a frequent guest on the Talk of Fame Network, and we value his knowledge, experience and expertise.

And today? Well, today we appreciate his availability, too.

So here we go …

MVP

Rick Gosselin: TODD GURLEY, RB, L.A. RAMS. The only player with 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season — plus a league-leading 19 TDs for a division champion.

Runner-up: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia.

Clark Judge: TOM BRADY, QB, NEW ENGLAND. I don’t care what his numbers were, and they were pretty damned good at 40 — with Brady leading the league in passing yardage. I look at what he does for his team … and what Brady does for the Patriots is make them win. Year. After year. After year.

Runner-up: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle.

John Turney: TOM BRADY, QB, NEW ENGLAND. He always seemed to be able to engineer a key drive when he needed one. Plus, he’s 40. So he edges Gurley for MVP.

Runner-up: Todd Gurley, RB, L.A. Rams.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Rick Gosselin: SEAN McVAY, L.A. RAMS. McVay turned the Rams into a dominant team overnight.

Runner-up: Sean McDermott, Buffalo.

Clark Judge: SEAN MCVAY, L.A. RAMS. He not only put the Rams back on the map, winning the the NFC West for the first time since 2003; he returned “Showtime” to L.A., with the Rams outscoring everyone in the NFL, winning seven of eight on the road and hammering defending division champion Seattle by 35 … in Seattle. Furthermore, at 31, he’s the youngest coach ever to lead a team into the playoffs.

Runner-up: Doug Marrone, Jacksonville.

John Turney: SEAN MCVAY, L.A. RAMS. McVay is special. He not only turned a team around but seemed to have defenses spinning with nasty splits in his wide-receiver formations.

Runner-up: Doug Marrone, Jacksonville.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Rick Gosselin: TODD GURLEY, L.A. RAMS. See above.

Runner-up: Tom Brady, QB, New England.

Clark Judge: TODD GURLEY, RB, L.A. RAMS. There was productivity galore — with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, an average of 87 yards rushing per game and an NFL-best 19 touchdowns. And all that in 15 starts (he sat out the finale).

Runner-up: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh.

John Turney: ANTONIO BROWN, WR, PITTSBURGH.  He was on pace for 1,800 yards and who knows how many touchdowns before he was hurt. He seemed uncoverable to me.

Runner-up: Todd Gurley, RB, L.A. Rams.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Rick Gosselin: CALAIS CAMPBELL, DE, JACKSONVILLE. The Jaguars shelled out $60 million for Campbell in free agency, and he was worth every penny — finishing second in the league in sacks and helping Jacksonville become the best defense in the AFC.

Runner-up: Aaron Donald, DT, L.A. Rams.

Clark Judge: CHANDLER JONES, LB, ARIZONA. Nobody talks about the guy, yet all he did was lead the league in sacks (17) and TFLs (28) … and he did it with a team that sometimes looked as if it was about to circle the drain.

Runner-up: Aaron Donald, DT, L.A. Rams.

John Turney: CHANDLER JONES, LB, ARIZONA. He’s not a physical freak … like, say, a Jadeveous Clowney or Von Miller, who might be compared to a Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. But this is the year where a Frank Robinson-type was the star. Jones made the plays in the backfield (he had 11 run stuffs) and led the league with 17 sacks. He just got it done.

Runner-up: Aaron Donald, DT, L.A. Rams.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rick Gosselin: KAREEM HUNT, RB, KANSAS CITY. He’s only the 14th rookie in NFL history to lead the league in rushing.

Runner-up: ALVIN KAMARA, RB, NEW ORLEANS.

Clark Judge: ALVIN KAMARA, RB, NEW ORLEANS. He could do it all — run, catch and return kicks. And he could score from anywhere on the field. He had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, all the more impressive because the Saints’ other back — Mark Ingram — did, too.

Runner-up: Kareem Hunt, Kansas City.

John Turney: KAREEM HUNT, RB, KANSAS CITY. Hunt gets it on the basis of being an every-down player. Kamara was great as a role player and far superior in the passing game. But Hunt was a grinder and won the rushing title.

Runner-up: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rick Gosselin: MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB, NEW ORLEANS. Five interceptions and a Pro Bowl invite as a rookie.

Runner-up: Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo.

Clark Judge: MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB, NEW ORLEANS. Twice he was named Defensive Rookie of the Month, including December, and that’s significant. Reason: It’s the first time anyone won it twice in one season since the NFL started the award in 1996.

Runner-up: Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo.

John Turney: MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB, NEW ORLEANS. Lattimore is sensational. The big thing is his smarts. He knew all the coverages and played them well. He also had great hands (and butt) when it came to ball skills, and when the ball was in the air he went into receiver mode. He also showed ability not to make rookie mistakes, with only one pass-interference penalty all season. Rare for a rookie.

Runner-up: Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Rick Gosselin: BUFFALO BILLS. They make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Runner-up: Rams.

Clark Judge: L.A. RAMS. Where did that come from? Jared Goff wasn’t supposed to be this good this soon. Todd Gurley was coming off a down season. Sean McVay had never been a head coach before. And yet … yet they won the NFC West for the first time since 2003, or the last time they had a winning season, signaling a changing of the guard in that division.

Runner-up: Bills making the playoffs when all seemed lost.

John Turney: CALAIS CAMPBELL, DE, JACKSONVILLE. He played the 4-3 end for the first time in his career, but he was a “sink end” —  a defensive end in base but a defensive tackle in nickel. He never had double digits in sacks before but ends up with a career-best 14-1/2 — with almost two-thirds of them as a defensive tackle. Nevertheless, it’s a milestone for him to reach double-digit sacks.

Runner-up: L.A. Rams.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Rick Gosselin: N.Y. GIANTS. We knew a New York team would be bad this season. We just didn’t know it would be the Giants.

Runner-up: Tampa Bay Bucs.

Clark Judge: THE CATCH RULE. Nobody understands it. You. Me. Coaches. Players. Alberto Riveron and his officials. So overhaul it. Or get rid of it.  It’s a bad rule. Period.

Runner-up: Everything and everyone associated with the N.Y. Giants.

John Turney: AARON RODGERS’ INJURY. I thought Rodgers was poised for an MVP run, but then — with one tackle — it’s over, and the domino effect leads to big changes in the Packers’ front office and staff.

Runner-up: J.J. Watt injury.

 

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1 Comment

  1. […] Clark Judge: “I don’t care what his numbers were, and they were pretty damned good at 40 — with Brady leading the league in passing yardage. I look at what he does for his team … and what Brady does for the Patriots is make them win. Year. After year. After year.” […]

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