Week 9 of the 2017 NFL season is in the books which means we are halfway through the season. There have been tons of injuries ending many star player’s seasons but the season has been bright for the healthy players. Here are my halfway season projections for the NFL honors awards.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1: T.J. Watt OLB: Pittsburgh Steelers
There has been a ton of pressure on T.J. Watt’s shoulders due to all the hype that followed him out of Wisconsin. As the brother of J.J. Watt, you naturally have critics comparing T.J. to J.J. and so far, the hype has proven itself. T.J.’s stat line is breathtaking. He’s started in the 7 games he’s played, tallying 28 total tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, and 1 interception. If he continues his remarkable rookie season, he will undoubtedly win defensive rookie of the year.
2: Zach Cunningham ILB: Houston Texans
Zach Cunningham has shined at the Inside Linebacker position since stepping into the starting role when Brian Cushing was suspended. He had a good amount of snaps in the first two games before he landed the starting role. Cunningham has recorded 38 tackles and 2 passes defensed. Cunningham has molded into the Texans defense and he has a bright future as the Texans’ linebacker of the future.
3: Malik Hooker FS: Indianapolis Colts
Malik hooker has been a huge boost to a long time, dismantled Colts defense. He has been a bright spot in a secondary that has needed a lot of help despite having Vontae Davis. Hooker has recorded 16 tackles, 4 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions. He has a bright future in the Colt’s secondary and on this rate, he will be a safety superhero for the Colts.
Honorable Mention: Dylan Cole ILB: Houston Texans
Dylan Cole has been a dark horse in the talk for defensive rookie of the year. The Missouri State product has played in 6 games, starting 1, and has tallied 19 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions with 1 including a 25 yard pick 6. When not injured, he’s a pivotal role on a Texans defense that lacks J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, among others. When healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with and elevates the Texans defense.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1: Kareem Hunt RB: Kansas City Chiefs
We all remember Hunt’s first snap of his NFL career, a fumble against a pretty lousy Patriots defense. But what did Hunt do after? He bursted out for a record setting game tallying 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. His current stats are 4 Touchdowns on 800 rushing yards and 2 receiving touchdowns on 331 receptions. If he continues his break-out season, he will unanimously win offensive rookie of the year.
2: Evan Engram TE: New York Giants
I know what everyone is thinking. Why is there a New York Giants player on this list? Well here is why. Evan Engram is the only legitimate receiver on Eli Manning’s horrendous offense. He’s scored 4 touchdowns on 412 receiving yards. It is relatively rare to tight end’s to be the number 1, go to receiver on an offense but with all your starting wide receivers out for the season with injury and the whole receiver corps in shambles, you call on your tight end and in the Giant’s case, it’s Engram.
3: Leonard Fournette RB: Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette is another running back having a huge rookie season. He is a bright spot on a Jaguars’ offense that has a history of being awful. He is making Blake Bortles look good and that’s a feat that can’t be taken away. Fournette has 6 rushing touchdowns on 596 rushing yards, and a single receiving touchdown on 136 receiving yards. Fournette will help the Jaguars win the AFC South and achieve the Jaguars’ first playoff berth in 10 years.
Honorable Mention: Deshaun Watson QB: Houston Texans
Ya’ll all know why he’s on this list.
Offensive Player of the Year
1: Antonio Brown WR: Pittsburgh Steelers
Look everyone! An offensive player that isn’t a quarterback is on top of this list! Trust me on this one, AB deserve it. It is well known that Roethlisberger is losing his game and starting to diminish in skill but AB is still producing. He is tallying 835 receiving yards for 3 touchdowns and at his rate, he should achieve 1,600 yards despite the decline of Roethlisberger.
2: Carson Wentz QB: Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz doesn’t need an explanation except for why he’s #2. Despite being the most improved player and completely turning around the Eagle’s franchise in his second year in the league, he has tons of weapons whereas Antonio Brown has a declining quarterback but is still producing. It will be a close race between them two but Brown will jump ahead of Wentz.
3: Russell Wilson QB: Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson continues to soar despite a struggling offensive line. He played a phenomenal game against the Houston Texans in Week 8 throwing touchdowns left and right. A few days later, more touchdowns were going to be guaranteed as the Seahawks traded for Star left tackle, Duane Brown from the Houston Texans. With the added protection, Wilson will have no issue airing out touchdowns and producing explosive runs.
Honorable Mention: Deshaun Watson QB: Houston Texans
Does he really need an explanation here?
Defensive Player of the Year
1: Calais Campbell DE: Jacksonville Jaguars
Calais Campbell is having a huge break-out season on his first season with the Jaguars. He has 11 sacks so far this season which is the most sacks he’s ever had in a single season in his career with the Arizona Cardinals. He also has 34 tackles, 1 pass defensed, and 2 forced fumbles. If he continues his break-out season with the Jaguars, he will win defensive player of the year. No doubt about it.
2: Cameron Jordan DE: New Orleans Saints
Cameron Jordan is another player having a huge season. He has 25 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 1 pick six, and 2 forced fumbles. He is a half sack away from tying his sack total from last season and at this rate, he will break his personal career record of 12.5 sacks in a season.
3: Jadeveon Clowney OLB: Houston Texans
The only pivotal defensive player on the Texans that isn’t injured or suspended is Clowney. Texans fans are biting their fingernails and hoping that the previously injury riddled linebacker can stay healthy this season and continue leading the Texans’ defense. He has started all 8 of the Texans games this season and has recorded 22 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles. Clowney is persevering despite a Texans defense in shambles and deserves to be in contention for defensive player of the year.
Honorable Mention: Joey Bosa DE: Los Angeles Chargers
Joey Bosa is another 2nd year player having a record breaking season. He has 38 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, and 2 forced fumbles and he is not slowing down. He is very close to topping his rookie season stats and at his rate, he will be a star but maybe not enough to get defensive player of the year this year, but definitely within the next few years.
Coach of the Year
1: Doug Pederson: Philadelphia Eagles
The 2nd year Eagles coach has turned a weak franchise into a team to fear. Last season, Pederson and the Eagles went 7-9 and were last place in the NFC East. This year, the Eagles have completely turned it around and are leading the NFC East with a record of 8-1. If the Eagles continue on their break-out season, Pederson will win coach of the year with ease.
2: Sean McVay: Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay has managed to turn a laughable Rams franchise into a 6-3 franchise leading the NFC West in his first season as LAR’s head coach. The Rams have been able to compete with the Seahawks, a team that has been a NFC West powerhouse since Wilson took the reigns on offense. The Rams were 3rd in the NFC West with a 4-12 record. Now the Rams have the opportunity to get into the playoffs as NFC West champions which a huge turnaround from last year’s awful season.
3: Andy Reid: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been one of the biggest surprises this season so far. No one expected them to beat the Patriots in Week 1 and start the season with a 5-0 record. Their current record is now 6-3 as the Chiefs have gone a slight skid but if Reid can pull the team back together, he will have no problem being a high contender for coach of the year.
Honorable Mention: Sean McDermott: Buffalo Bills
Sean McDermott, another first year head coach, has surprised NFL fans by leading the Bills to a 5-3 start. Though that record isn’t the best, he is helping Tyrod Taylor see his potential and I have no doubt that McDermott will be in contention next season, as long as the Bills succeed.
Most Valuable Player
1: Carson Wentz QB: Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz will be the 2017 NFL MVP. Wentz is guaranteed to top his rookie season and continue on his break-out season, leading the Eagles to a potential Super Bowl appearance. People expected Wentz to be good, but no one expected him to be this good. Through 9 games, Wentz has thrown for 2,262 yards and 23 touchdowns on 5 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 71.6. On this rate, Wentz has the capability of throwing for nearly 5000 yards and bringing the Eagles a much anticipated deep playoff run.
2: Alex Smith QB: Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith has been another huge surprise this season. After beating the Patriots, Smith has been dynamic. He is leading the Chiefs to a wonderful season that has fans bragging. Smith has thrown for 2,444 yards and 18 touchdowns on 1 interception! That’s right! 1 interception! His quarterback rating is not the best, with a rating of 62.7 but his leadership in a Chiefs offense and extreme ball security has capped off his remarkable season.
3: Tom Brady QB: New England Patriots
Okay Brady lovers, you have permission to come at me but I’d like for you to hear me out first. Tom Brady has had a great season and the 40 year old, 18 year veteran is showing no signs of slowing down but he hasn’t been as explosive as he normally has been in the past, including last season. Almost losing to the Josh McCown lead New York Jets is very embarrassing considering a normal Tom Brady would blow the Jets out of the universe. Brady is tallying 2,541 yards and 16 touchdowns on 2 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 67 which is remarkable but it is time for some new blood to win MVP.
Honorable Mention: Deshaun Watson QB: Houston Texans
Here’s the explanation you have all been waiting for. Deshaun Watson deserves to be MVP. If you don’t believe it, look at his stat lines and look at how he has transformed a Tom Savage run offensive into an offense that produces dynamic plays and beats up opposing teams secondaries. Watson is the perfect fit in a Bill O’Brien offense that succeeds with a mobile quarterback. Trading up with the Browns and drafting Watson was the best selection the Texans have made since drafting J.J. Watt in 2011. Watson was the best quarterback in the draft and was passed up by so many teams who are probably wondering why they chose the quarterback they chose over Watson. Watson threw for 1,699 yards producing 19 touchdowns on 8 interceptions as well as rushing for 269 yards and scoring 2 rushing touchdowns and a NFL quarterback rating of 81.5 which is still leading the league. Unfortunately, Watson tore his ACL on a non-contact play in practice, thus tearing the hope in the hearts of all Texans fans especially knowing that Tom Savage was about to rip this offense apart and put us dead last in the AFC South. If the awards system worked in an overall production rate, ignoring injuries, Watson would win MVP but unfortunately, he can only be an honorable mention. But don’t worry Texans fans. Watson will be back next season with more power than ever.