To say that 2017 was a big year for the NFL would be…. an adjective. That’s truly the best word to describe it. It wasn’t a great year for ratings, no records were chased after, and no future Hall of Famers played in their farewell season. Injuries, penalties, suspensions, and some of the worst officiating in sports history plagued the year. None the less, two teams are left standing and neither one is ready to back down.
While many saw New England as a perennial favorite to win the NFC, more people bet on the Browns to make the Super Bowl than the Falcons. But, as the great philospher Kevin Malone once said:
So while we wait patiently for the final showdown of the season, I will make my predictions for the NFL Honors that will be awarded February 4th, the day before the Super Bowl, and a few awards all of my own.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliot (RB/Dallas Cowboys)
The rookie man-beast in a half shirt tore threw defenses this season, posting over 1600 yards. Dallas rode Big Zeke all season as he led running backs in nearly every rushing category (including fumbles and dropped passes). As long as he is behind that line, I expect him to make a difference for years to come.
Honorable Mentions: Dak Prescott, Jordan Howard, Tyreek Hill
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Joey Bosa (DE/San Diego Chargers)
Bosa is the Boz, but more talented and NFL ready. He is in the right town, he has the right look, and he certainly has the confidence. Despite missing four games due to injury he still led all rookies with 10.5 sacks. If the Chargers are willing to put up with his larger than life personality and are willing to build around him, he could be the cornerstone for their defense for a long time.
Honorable Mentions: DeForest Buckner, Leonard Floyd
Best Value Pick: WR Tyreek Hill (WR/Kansas Chiefs)
The 5th round pick and 168th overall had a huge season. The slashy player had nearly 600 yards receiving, over 250 rushing, had three returns for touchdowns and 12 scores overall. There is no way Kansas City would have made the playoffs without this guy. Andy Reid could turn him into DeSean Jackson at half the cost.
Honorable Mentions: Dak Prescott, Jordan Howard, Robert Kelley
Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys)
Losing Tony Romo is less of a strain and more of an inevitability these days, but when you’re prepared it becomes a wash. Whether Garrett knew what he had in the rookie, or if it was just dumb luck, Dallas strolled into the playoffs with the number one seed. He adapted the offense to a more west coast style to take pressure off Dak, and beat everyone not named Eli. A great year for a coach who entered on the hot seat.
Honorable Mentions: Bill Belieck, Mike McCarthy
Worst Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly (San Fransisco 49ers)
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
When Kelly came in from Oregon back in 2013, people were wowed by his innovative offense. Then they realized, its just fast play calling. Defenses figured it out quickly, though he was able to compete back in Philly until he traded all of his talent. He entered San Fran with no talent thanks to early retirements, and couldn’t make it work. I am never a fan of firing coaches after one season, but he was never going to win over that locker room and he may never win it over.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Malarkey, Rex Ryan, Jay Gruden
Best Free Agent Signing: LB Zach Brown (Buffalo Bills)
Brown was a monster this season in Buffalo. His 149 tackles were tops in the AFC and second overall. Originally signed to be a backup, Brown came in on a 1-year deal and will most definitely get a nice pay day this off-season.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Wallace, Josh Norman, Lamar Miller
Worst Free Agent Signing: Brock Osweiler (QB/Houston Texans)
Who didn’t see that coming? Houston’s GM? Brock’s mom? It was bad. I mean, not awful, but when you get paid like an MVP you better play like a Pro Bowler. Getting benched for the rookie as your team approaches the playoffs speaks volumes. He really made a negative difference for the NFL going forward too. His insane salary will drive up the price of good quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr.
Honorable Mentions: RGIII, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eric Weddel
Offensive Player of the Year: David Johnson (RB/Arizona Cardinals)
What this guy did with practically no line is amazing. If he had Zeke’s line, he would look like Barry Freakin Sanders (Sanders however, didn’t have a line either). The NFL leader in touchdowns has quickly developed into a dual threat. He could be the NFC’s LeVeon Bell or the next Marshall Faulk. Hands down the breakout player of the year, he could have done much more. He was held to 12 carries or less in four games or he could have posted some even bigger numbers.
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Brown, Ezekil Elliot, Julio Jones
Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller (OLB/Denver Broncos)
He is becoming the linebacker of his time. Denver paid him a kings ransom following the Super Bowl and he is earning every penny of it. The AFC leader in sacks also deflected three passes, and forced three fumbles. He is a force to be reckoned with and will continue to dominate the conference for the foreseeable future.
Honorable Mentions: Vic Beasley Jr, Khalil Mack, Bobby Wagner
Defensive MVP: Von Miller (OLB/Denver Broncos)
See above. Still not enough. Except for rushing stats, Denver finished in the top four of nearly every defensive category including yards per game and points. Tell me that has nothing to do with the big set of glasses sizing up the quarterback. Miller has earned this title, and should see a few more in his career before its over.
NFL MVP: Matt Ryan (QB/Atlanta Falcons)
Up until this season, he was pretty boring. Nothing to write home about. That is rather odd, because since he has been in the league, he has had two different NFL rushing leaders and two different receiving leaders. He has always had the pieces around him, but this season he stepped into the echelon of elite players. His career high of 38 Touchdowns and yards at 4,944 are nothing compared to his career low of 7 interceptions. Ryan is finally where some thought he would never be, and he deserves every ounce of credit.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ezekil Elliot