Roderick McClean | Staff Writer
The NFL season is coming to an end, and awards are up for grabs. There have been many surprises this season. Teams that were expected to be lackluster proved doubters wrong by making the playoffs and eliminating teams thought to be on top.
The Coach of the Year Award is completely up for grabs, with the top candidates Sean McVay (L.A. Rams), Doug Pederson (Philadelphia), Mike Zimmer (Minnesota), Doug Marrone (Jacksonville) and Sean Payton (New Orleans). Each coach has something different to offer.
McVay completely turned the Rams around. Last year, under Jeff Fisher, they finished 4-12. However, this year has been completely different. The first-year head coach has brought in a new culture for the team and it is clearly showing, as the Rams finished 11-5.
Marrone is another coach deserving of the award. The Jaguars finished a flat 3-13 in 2016. This year, they not only went 10-6 but also won their division and went to the AFC Championship Game.
McVay and Marrone are most likely the frontrunners for the award.
However, there are some underdogs. You can’t count out Bill Belichick (New England), Payton and Zimmer.
When it comes to the Offensive Player of Year, it comes down to three main players, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have two of them. Antonio Brown was just incredible this year. The Steelers’ wideout led the league in receiving yards all while missing the last two games of the season.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will be another contender for the award. He ended the season in third for total rushing yards and racked up 655 receiving yards as well.
The Rams’ Todd Gurley caught the attention of fans, too. Gurley had 279 carries, 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Notable nominees for Defensive Player of the Year are Calais Campbell (Jacksonville), Demarcus Lawrence (Dallas), Aaron Donald (L.A. Rams), Everson Griffen (Minnesota) and Jalen Ramsey (Jacksonville). Despite the numerous nominees, it appears that Campbell should get this award. After all, Campbell finished the season with 67 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
Many players have had an MVP type of season, including Carson Wentz (Philadelphia), Tom Brady (New England), Drew Brees (New Orleans), Russell Wilson (Seattle), Brown and Gurley.
The MVP race for the 2017 season changed multiple times as injuries haunted the NFL’s top players. Players like Wilson and Brown were clearly leading the pack, but injuries hurt their chances. Wentz looked to be the easy pick, but he was injured as well, tearing his ACL in week 14.
Now, it looks as if the fallback guy will be who many consider the greatest player of all time, Brady. The Patriots quarterback had another stellar season, leading the league in passing yards while throwing 32 touchdowns.
Voters will decide the winners for each award Feb. 3.