2017 SwartzSports NFL Quarter Season Awards

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You can never predict football, but you really couldn’t predict 2017 football. The New York Jets, picked by many to be a candidate for an 0-16 season, have the same record as the New England Patriots. The worst quarterback a year ago (Jared Goff) is now one of the best. And the NFC race is as wide open as we’ve ever seen.

Then again, maybe you can predict football. Look at my MVP pick, and it won’t surprise anyone if I had told you it would be this guy before the season started. In keeping with the tradition of my favorite sportswriter, Jayson Stark, I’ll include an ‘apologies to’ section in which I name the runner-ups for the different awards.

 

NFL MVP: Tom Brady

At 40 years old, Tom Brady is playing quarterback as well as it’s ever been played. He’s tossed 10 touchdown passes without an interception, compiling a 9.0 yards per attempt and a 116.6 passer rating. Brady is on pace for nearly 5,600 passing yards, and he’s done this without his most trusted receiver, Julian Edelman (lost for the season with a torn ACL). New England is surprisingly just 2-2, but don’t blame Brady for that; in fact, if not for a last-second comeback he led against Houston, this team would be 1-3. Blame that on a porous defense that ranks 32nd in the league in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed. Apologies to: Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Jared Goff

 

Offensive Player of Year: Kareem Hunt

The Offensive Player of the Year award is traditionally handed out to the best non-MVP offensive player, but in this case, I think Kareem Hunt deserves it either way. A third-round rookie who wasn’t even slated to start until Spencer Ware got hurt in preseason, Hunt has dominated the league since he stepped on the field in Week 1. Actually, he’s dominated the league on every play since his first play – a lost fumble. Since then, Hunt has rushed for 502 yards and four touchdowns at a 7.4 yards-per-carry clip. He’s proven to be prolific as a receiver too, and he’s currently on pace for 2,636 scrimmage yards and 24 total touchdowns. The scrimmage yards would set a new league record if Hunt can maintain his pace. Apologies to: Todd Gurley, Stefon Diggs, Antonio Brown

 

Defensive Player of Year: Demarcus Lawrence

No one on the defensive side of the ball has been as dominant as Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas’ fourth-year pass rusher who is parlaying a career year into what should be a massive free-agent deal. Lawrence has registered 7.5 sacks in just four games, putting up game totals of 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, and 1.0. He hasn’t faced a murderer’s row of left tackles, but still, a 30-game sack pace is more than impressive, and Lawrence has added a pair of forced fumbles and 17 tackles to go with his quarterback takedowns. Apologies to: Xavier Rhodes, DeForest Buckner, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey

 

Coach of Year: Sean McVay

You could make a strong case for Andy Reid, who has his Kansas Chiefs at 4-0 and looking like the frontrunners for a Super Bowl championship. But what surprises you more, the Chiefs being 4-0 or the Los Angeles Rams being 3-1 and a legitimate force in the NFC West? Sean McVay, the youngest coach in league history, has been a godsend for an offense that was dragged down by Jeff Fisher for years and years. McVay has resurrected Todd Gurley. He’s turned last year’s No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff into a likely franchise quarterback. Through four games, the Rams are first in the league in scoring with as many 40-point games (2) as they had in the entirety of the Fisher tenure. Apologies to: Reid, Sean McDermott

 

Offensive Rookie of Year: Kareem Hunt

By virtue of winning the quarter season Offensive Player of the Year award, Hunt is the obvious top rookie. Just to further highlight his dominance thus far, Hunt is the first running back with at least 650 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns in his first four NFL games since Billy Sims in 1980. Sims was a No.1  overall pick; Hunt is doing this as a third-rounder. Hunt’s worst game so far was probably Week 4 against Washington, when he still put up a 21-101 rushing line and caught four passes for 20 yards. Hunt is even more valuable to the offense because of how well he catches passes; Alex Smith has targeted him 13 times as a receiver this season. Hunt has caught them all for 157 yards and two scores. Apologies to: Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette

 

Defensive Rookie of Year: TreDavious White

It’s a close call between TreDavious White and Malik Hooker, both first-round defensive backs. White has the tougher job of immediately replacing a former Pro Bowler in Stephon Gilmore, and he’s playing a more difficult defensive position for a rookie, so he gets the nod. White recorded his first career interception in Week 3 against Denver, then returned a fumble for a touchdown in a Week 4 upset win over Atlanta. He’s already registered eight passes defensed, and he’s fueling a pass defense that has allowed just one touchdown pass – against six interceptions – through four games. Apologies to: Hooker, Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore

 

Comeback Player of Year: Todd Gurley

It’s easy to simply pick a player who was injured the year before as your Comeback Player of the Year. That makes Eric Berry and Julian Edelman easy candidates for the 2018 award. I like to pick a player who was actually on the field but so ineffective. That’s what makes Todd Gurley an ideal selection. He went the entire 2016 season without a 100-yard rushing game. He finished at just 885 rushing yards on 3.2 yards per carry, and he didn’t add any receiving touchdowns. This year, whether you credit new coach Sean McVay, emerging quarterback Jared Goff, or new left tackle Andrew Whitworth, Gurley has already topped 100 yards twice. He’s on pace for a 1,500-yard rushing campaign, and he’s already caught three scores through the air. Apologies to: J.J. Watt, Keenan Allen, Desmond Trufant

 

Breakout Player of Year: Jared Goff

This isn’t an official NFL award, but it should be. There’s no more obvious candidate for this award than Jared Goff, who was absolutely horrific in a seven-game sample as a rookie. In 2017, Goff has truly gone from worst to first – after finishing dead-last in the NFL in ANY/A (2.82) as a rookie, Goff now leads the league in that statistic with a crisp 9.39 mark. Goff is averaging over nine yards per attempt. He’s thrown just one interception in four games. He’s not even taking sacks (just a 3.3 sack percent). Apologies to: Chris Thompson, Demarcus Lawrence, Trent Brown

Posted by Cody Swartz

The oldest and wisest twin. Seven-year Eagles writer. Former Phillies writer. Half-marathoner in training. Sabermetrics lover. First-time dynasty fantasy football league participant. Follow Cody Swartz on Twitter (@cbswartz5).

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