With the start of another new year, it is time to reflect on the season that was. From index cards to Ezekiel Elliott to still not really knowing what a catch is, the 2017 NFL season had no shortage of memories
In the spirit of celebrating the standouts from this past season, Pony Keg Sports proudly brings to you the first-annual NFL Pony Awards. That’s right, folks…The Ponys!
Tom, Tim and Josh were joined by new Pony Keg contributor Shane Preston to hand out some imaginary hardware to these deserving candidates.
So without further ado…
MVP: Tom Brady, New England
Stats: 16 G, 385 for 581 (66.3% completion), 4577 yards (led NFL), 32 TD, 8 INT
There are a number of qualified candidates this season and this would be a REALLY interesting race if it happened about five years from now, but alas…this isn’t a discussion.
Forget the fact that he’s incredibly efficient, which he is (32 TD against 8 INT with a 66.3 completion percentage). Forget the fact that he’s winning in the volume metrics, which he is (led the NFL with 4577 yards at 286.1 yards per game).
He has quietly had to overcome the same kinds of obstacles that make the cases for other candidates and has done so more impressively. Issues with injuries? Check (Julian Edelman). Forced to compensate for a god awful defense? Check (New England’s was the worst for the first half of the season)…and he’s doing it all at the tender age of 40.
This has nothing to do with his legacy or the fact that he’s the GOAT. If you put this season in a vacuum…he’s still the MVP.
Runner-up: Todd Gurley, LA Rams
Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, LA Rams
Stats: 15 G, 279 car, 1305, 13 TD (led NFL), 4.7 YPC
64 rec, 788 yards, 6 TD
Gurley’s 2016 campaign plainly showed anyone with a pair of eyes that circumstances can sometimes outweigh talent. After spending his sophomore season beating his head against the wall – or more accurately, running headfirst into the backsides of his offensive linemen – Gurley’s talents were finally used to their full capacity under the tutelage of first-year head coach Sean McVay.
Not only was the former Bulldog used creatively and consistently in the running game compared to a year prior (2016: 278 carries, 885 yards, 6 TD; 2017: 279 carries, 1305 yards, 13 TD), but he has also doubled the total reception output of his first two seasons combined (2015/2016: 64 receptions, 445 yards, 0 TD; 2017: 64 receptions, 788 yards, 6 TD).
“The consensus everywhere was that Todd Gurley was done in this league. His ability to turn his play around helped the whole team gain confidence. Explosive, powerful, and agile. Finally the guy everyone hoped he would be coming out of Georgia.” - TT
Runner-up: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, LA Rams
Stats: 14 G, 32 solo, 9 ast, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Normally a position that fails to produce gaudy numbers, Donald excelled in the middle of a tough Rams defense with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles in only 14 games. The four-year pro is likely going to be named an All-Pro for the third-straight season and was an unstoppable force for opposing O-lines this season, despite missing two games.
“Donald has been having a great season on a great team. Campbell has a chance to unseat Donald as a top candidate for Defensive player of the year with his already 14.5 sacks, but I think Donald’s season speaks for itself and will keep the top spot.” - JS
Runner-up: Calais Campbell, Jacksonville
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
Stats: 16 G, 120 car, 728 yards, 8 TD, 6.1 YPC (led NFL)
81 rec, 826 yards, 5 TD
1 kick return touchdown
This has very little to do with the wall that Kareem Hunt seemed to hit after his white-hot start and much more to do with the impact Kamara has had on the resurgent Saints. The addition of Kamara has allowed Sean Payton to completely reshape the New Orleans offense from one that relies solely on the arm of an aging quarterback to one that features the most talented backfield tandem in football for one of the most balanced and efficient attacks in the game.
Even more impressive than his numbers (684 rushing yards, 75 receptions for 742 yards, 12 total touchdowns) is his ability to pass the “eye test.” This isn’t the pass-catching back we’re used to seeing in New Orleans (see: Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles) and that is shown when he gets big touches in big moments and seemingly ALWAYS converts.
Runner-up: Kareem Hunt, Kansas City
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans
Stats: 13 games, 43 solo, 9 ast, 5 INT (1 returned for TD), 18 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
You almost never see two rookies from the same team rank so high in the end-of-year award discussions, but Lattimore has been one of the standouts of a surprising New Orleans defense that has kept the Saints near the top of the NFC standings despite being in the toughest division in football. One of the top corners in football this year regardless of age, Lattimore paced the 2017 rookie class with five interceptions – including that time he picked off Matt Ryan with his ass. Sometimes…it’s just your year.
“Lattimore has been a force to be reckoned with that the saints resurgent defense. Lattimore led rookie CBs with 5 interceptions on the year and QBs do not want to throw to his side when he is on the field. A real difference maker.” - JS
Runner-up: Tra’Davious White, Buffalo
Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, LA Rams
11-5 – NFC West Champions
The resurgence of Todd Gurley is an example of what a new regime can do for a talented player and if that’s not enough to show the importance of McVay, consider the following:
“McVay is closer to the age he hit puberty than the age of some of his fellow coaches. In one year, he has helped put weapons around Goff, build his confidence and get the defense back to the level it was at two-to-three years ago. He probably just got two-to-three early 30-year-olds head coaching interviews with his success. No matter how much credit Jeff Fisher wants to take.” - TT
Runner-up: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota
Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, LA Chargers
Stats: 16 G, 102 rec, 1393 yards, 6 TD (2016: 6 rec for 63 yards before tearing ACL midway through season opener)
“Let's take a second and try to remember back to 2013. Keenan Allen was the clear cut top WR coming out from college, but fell in the draft due to health and injury concerns. In his rookie season, Keenan Allen proved his naysayers wrong. He played in 15 games and put up a 71 rec-1046 yards-8 TD stat line that got him labeled as the next big thing at the WR position. Fast forward to the beginning of the 2017 season. Keenan Allen is coming off a 3rd-straight disappointing season where injuries ended a year early. After a tough 3 year stretch, Keenan Allen put it all together and played a full 16 games. He set career highs in receptions (4th in NFL) and receiving yards (3rd in NFL). He finished 8th in the league in receptions over 20 yards and was also responsible for 74 first down receptions. He truly was the do it all WR for the Chargers in 2017 and is the clear cut winner of the Comeback Player of the Year award.” - TS
Runner-up: Tie – Jared Goff, LA Rams/Rob Gronkowski, New England
GTFO Player/Coach of the Year (Player or coach who needs to leave his current team – either for his own sake or for the fans’ sanity): John Fox, Chicago Bears (HE GONE)
Record with Chicago Bears – 2015: 6-10; 2016: 3-13; 2017: 5-11
Second worst winning percentage in Chicago Bears history
“As an easily agitated Bears fan, this was obvious. Fox lack of effort, idiotic statements, and questionable play calling makes me sick. Personnel has been suspect, but that is also partially on him. One year left on a deal that will obviously not be renewed. It's time to move on. BYE FELICIA!” - TT
Runner-up: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis (HE ALSO GONE)
1st – 10 points
2nd – 8 points
3rd – 6 points
4th – 4 points
5th – 2 points