Overtime Ireland – Alternative Awards
Last week the Overtime Ireland writers posted an excellent article on their choices for the NFL Honours in 2017, (which you can read here http://overtimeireland.com/overtime-ireland-awards/). In order to get you over your post-Divisional Weekend hangover, I have come up with the “Overtime Ireland – Alternative Awards”. I work shopped a few names but that was the best I could come up with unfortunately.
MUC Award (Most Useless Coach) – Hue Jackson/Marvin Lewis
It would have been really easy to give this to Hue Jackson. When your team goes 0-16 it’s hard to look past him, especially when his record is a staggering 1-31 in Cleveland. Just think, in order for him to get to a .500 record, he would need to have eight 10-6 or better seasons in a row. In some respects the Browns have been competitive in most of their games in for what is a very talent-poor roster. Alternatively, how hard is it to win just one game?
Marvin Lewis. Another season of ineptitude. Whilst I respect the job he has done in his time in Cincinnati, he is past his sell-by-date. This season, the Bengals had playoff caliber talent but that talent did not translate to the field and that has to be down to the coaching. Fans rejoiced when the reports came out that Lewis was leaving at the end of the year, but now it looks like he will sign a new 2-year deal.
Both Jackson and Lewis’ incompetence has made the AFC North a cake-walk for the Steelers this year. Both look like they will be back again to set up their teams as the proverbial tomato cans, which as much an indictment on their front-office as it is their own abilities.
Most Likely to Be Traded – Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford had a typical Sam Bradford season – teasing early promise, then a season-ending injury. With his contract for 2017 being an $18m salary cap hit, it is unlikely Bradford returns this year after the impressive and unexpected play of Case Keenum. Bradford is good enough to a starter when healthy, but his health will always be a question.Minnesota will not want to keep him or hand him a new contract and will most likely draft a young Quarterback this year to develop behind Keenum.
MVMP (Most Valuable Missing Player) – Aaron Rodgers/DeShaun Watson
DeShaun Watson breathed new air into the Texans Offence. That air was then cruelly sucked out of them when Watson went down injured. The Texans then stumbled through the rest of the season with Tom Savage and TJ Yates until Week 17 when their season mercifully ended. Watson’s dynamism and playmaking ability turned the Texans into contenders. It was just a fleeting moment, but one the Texans and NFL fans alike will be looking forward to next year.
Aaron Rodgers – no analysis required.
Breakout Player of the Year – Kevin Byard
Just to put a caveat in here, in this award, you cannot be a breakout as a rookie (that’s what the rookie awards are for). With that being said, I don’t think anyone saw Kevin Byard of the Titans having the season he had. The former 3rd round pick from Middle Tennessee, had zero interceptions and four pass break ups in his rookie year in 2016. In 2017, he shot into the limelight with a league leading eight interceptions and he also had fourteen PBU’s. Three of his interceptions came against Cleveland in Week 7 in a close 12-9 affair. Byard achieved Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods this season and it will be interesting to see if he was just a one year wonder, or have we seen an elite level Safety truly “breakout”?
Surprising Statistic of the Year – Joe Webb 8 tackles
For those in the know, Joe Webb has been a jack-of-all-trades for quite a while now. He is primarily a Quarterback, but in order to stay on rosters as the third option, he has taken to playing other positions too. He has lined up at receiver and kick returner in recent times as well as rushing out of the Wildcat formation. This year however he upped his Special Teams production as part of the coverage teams in Buffalo with eight tackles. Quite impressive for a player that would have had little practice tackling having been a Quarterback for most of his career. With his skill-set and versatility he is increasing the longevity of his career considering he has only completed two passes since 2011.
Inside the 20 Award – Chris Jones
Brett Kern and Johnny Hekker might have wowed the crowds on their way to the Pro Bowl but in the quiet backwaters of Dallas, Chris Jones had a great season. Kern and Hekker had the highest net average with 44.6 and 44.3 yards respectively but when it came to landing his punts inside the twenty-yard line – Chris Jones was elite. Jones managed to keep 52% of his punts within the 20-yard line, which was 4% higher than anyone else. It might not seem significant, but it gives your defence a much better chance having to defend a long field instead of a short one. Net yards are a decent metric for measuring how good a punter is, but it should always be combined with the Inside the 20 statistic. At the very least it would give the Cowboys something to shout about.
Disappointing Player of the Year – Terrelle Pryor
There were some doubts when Pryor converted from Quarterback to Receiver in 2016 with Cleveland, but 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns later he proved his doubters wrong. Pryor even became a high priority free agent this offseason where he was snapped up by the Redskins on a one-year $8m deal. With Kirk Cousins under centre, Pryor looked set to improve further. What resulted was a paltry twenty-catch 240-yard season where he struggled to fit in with the Offence.
Worst 1st Round Draft Pick – John Ross
It’s John Ross. It was always going to be John Ross. The 9th overall pick in the 2017 draft had less receiving yards in the whole season than his draft position. In fact the 40-yard dash record holder only recorded one rush for 12 yards before landing himself on injured reserve. Wide Receiver is always a tough position to assimilate into, but the Bengals were surely counting on some production from their investment. He has scary speed, but will he be another Darrius Heyward-Bey?
This OTI piece was written by Luke O’Brien. Luke has played and coached American Football for 10 years in Ireland as part of the Cork Admirals. He also writes Patriots related content for musketfire.com and everything NFL on his own blog thelateralviewblog.wordpress.com. You can follow Luke on twitter @lukeobrien21