Overtime Ireland Awards
It’s done. The NFL regular season has come to a close, and as we ready ourselves for the playoffs, it is time for reflection. We, the Overtime Ireland writers, have gone around the table to share our top talents in various award categories for the 2017 season.
Your OTI MVP – Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Eric: Try as I might, I cannot look past Tom Brady here. 40 years old and still lighting up defences for over 4,500 yards and over 30 TD’s. He has led the Patriots once again to the No.1 seed in the AFC. He’s managed to do this without his go to guy, Julian Edelman, being on the field all season and also Chris Hogan for a big chunk of it, but it just doesn’t matter to Brady, he keeps finding the next man up. The Madden curse might yet get him in the postseason but for the regular season he has debunked the myth.
James: I think most people will choose Brady as MVP for the season, as he did have another great season. However, I feel that he is only 2nd best this year: Gurley was phenomenal as he finished the 2017 season with 1,305 rushing yards (4.7 yards per carry) with 13 touchdowns in addition to 788 receiving yards and six receiving TD’s. He was the centrepiece of a rejuvenated Rams team and is a true MVP.
Jimmy: This maybe a bit of team bias but number 12 (Brady) should be the league MVP. They’re many contenders over the season, Carson Wentz, Antonio Brown and Todd Gurley but I believe this season should be Brady. People can argue that Wentz has been playing better but Brady has the most passing yards over the season and has been in the top five in all the majority of the top statistics and at age 40. Where most QB’s aged over 40 have been slowing down Brady seems to be improving. With the sub-par defence that the Patriots had over the season Brady had to improve.
Mark: In a season when MVP-hopeful after MVP-hopeful went down almost weekly, it has been a strange, and slightly underwhelming, MVP race. Carson Wentz – and briefly Antonio Brown – were the nailed-on favourites before they joined the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr, JJ Watt and David Johnson in potential-MVP-winner purgatory. In the end, and with a heavy heart, I have cast my ballot for Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. I wanted so badly to opt for Todd Gurley and his 19 TD’s and 2093 yards from scrimmage, but just couldn’t avoid the season that Brady has put together. He led the league with 4,577 passing yards, finished 3rd in the league with 32 touchdowns and led the Patriots to the AFC’s Number 1 Seed with a league leading 394.2 yards of total offence per game. The most impressive stat of all? He did it all age 40
Matt: I was really pulling for Antonio Brown for some time, until the Pats travelled to Pittsburgh and he got injured. The Pats went on to claim the number one seed, and as such, I think Tom Brady will take the crown. He’s posted up some outstanding numbers and has been consistently brilliant throughout the season. There’s something mundane and predictable about this pick, but it’s the right choice. Maybe if this season wasn’t marred by injury, it’d be someone else.
Your OTI Offensive Player of the Year – Todd Gurley II (LA Rams)
Eric: Todd Gurley showed this year that he’s a do all RB. Free from the shackles of the Jeff Fisher era, Gurley has flourished in Sean McVay’s new look Rams offence. Gurley touched the ball almost 350 times this season and that includes sitting out Week 17, accounted for over 40% of his team’s touches and over 35% of their yards. He has propelled them to the playoffs and who knows how far they can go?
James: For OPOY, I have gone for Kareem Hunt as he deserves a lot of recognition for the season that he had. This year’s rushing leader with 1327 yards, Hunt started and finished the season strong. He gained almost 1800 total yards from scrimmage and scored 11 TD’s. He slowed down a little at the mid-point of the season when the Chiefs strangely abandoned the run game. However, the Chiefs had their biggest success when leaning on Hunt and this shows that he deserves to be the offensive player of the year.
Jimmy: Todd Gurley’s effectiveness throughout the whole season has been one of the reasons why the Rams have made their first playoff game since 2003. With his 1303 rushing yards and 788 receiving yards and led the league in rushing touchdowns with 13. Over the season Gurley was named NFC offensive player of the month twice. The second one was in December where he was rested for the final game! He has been productive against all types of opponents. Considering last year all the critics had written the young running back off. But Gurley came back and hushed any doubters with his outstanding talent.
Mark: I have to give this to Todd Gurley. He might have just missed out on my MVP vote, but he has been my favourite player to watch this season. He finally displayed his undoubted talent across an entire season and has cemented his place among the league’s elite Running Backs. It hasn’t been a perfect season for Gurley though. He fumbled the ball 5 times this year, losing 2, which is something he will need to clean up going forward. But, the Rams are in good hands with my Coach of the Year vote, Sean McVay (spoiler alert?), and I expect Gurley to go from strength to strength next season.
Matt: I saw the Rams play in London in 2016, under the delusional guidance of Jeff Fisher. Oh, how things have changed. McVay should take credit for this of course, but there’s no denying that Gurley has been front and centre of the renaissance in LA. Gurley always had this kind of season in his locker, but some of his highlights this year trump that of most offensive players. He’s just behind Kareem Hunt in terms of total yards (with 1,305), but he’s been a game winner as a receiver too, and could run the Rams all the way to the Superbowl if he continues. (Brown, if not for his injury might have taken this accolade, by the way)
Your OTI Defensive Player of the Year – Calais Campbell/ Aaron Donald
Eric: Once again, a number of candidates stand out here and no one would begrudge Calais Campbell for finally getting that defensive line in Jacksonville doing what it has been billed to do, the Jags have destroyed offensive lines all year. Jalen Ramsey and Cam Jordan also spring to mind but for me, it’s got to be Aaron Donald. His domination in the middle is nothing new you might say, but it just puts the whole team on the front foot and this year they have been able to convert offensively. He has produced like an edge rusher on the interior and has single handily wreaked havoc more than anyone else in the league. Put someone in front of him for this award, I dare you!!! He’ll crush them into the ground as he gets to the award.
James: For me this comes down to 2 players – Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell as both had great season for their teams. However when forced to choose I would side with Donald as he had 11 sacks and 5 FF making him unblockable for most offences. He helped to transform a Rams team and propel them to the playoffs.
Jimmy: The Jaguars defence has been dominant over the 2017 season. One of those defences that comes around once every few years. Although as a unit the defence has been dominant but Ramsey has stood out. He makes the corner back position look easy. With four interceptions and one of the top pass blockers in the NFL. Whether he covered other players on his team mistakes or protected his own position he was a force to be reckoned with. He was rewarded with this by a vote to his first ever pro bowl, and he is only in his second year.
Mark: Aaron Donald has had a great season – especially considering he held out for most of the pre-season looking for a better contract – but, for me, it has to be Calais Campbell. As a Cardinals fan, I was worried this might happen when he left Arizona, and he we are, 14.5 Sacks, 3 Forced Fumbles and 3 Passes Defended later. It has been a career best season in which he has been the linchpin of the leagues most vaunted defense. Beyond that, Campbell’s contribution to the Jags defense, – in forcing the opposition to sell out to stop him – has allowed the likes of Yannick Ngakoue (12 Sacks and 6 Forced Fumbles) and Malik Jackson (8 Sacks, 6 Forced Fumbles and 3 Passes Defended) to flourish. If there was a signing of the season award, he would surely be the frontrunner for that too.
Matt: Calais Campbell. For his name, if nothing else. The Jags turnaround has been truly remarkable in 2017, and in the same way the Rams’ offense has improved, so has the Jags’ defense. Campbell leads the team for sacks with 14.5 total. AJ Bouye and Ramsey have been on fire in the back too, but the Jags are getting after the quarterback like few other teams and Campbell is doing that the best. My concern for the Jags as a whole is their last two weeks of the regular season – hopefully they turn it back on for Wildcard weekend.
Your OTI Rookie of the Year – Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
Eric: There can be a case made for quite a few of the rookie class, on both sides of the ball. Myles Garrett showed up once he hit the field and Reuben Foster is a monster in the 49ers linebacking corps. Saying that, it’s hard to get away from the sexy picks in the offence. Deshaun Watson would no doubt have been in discussion but for his season ending injury, but it all boils down to Hunt or Kamara. My vote goes to Kamara, who may not be the workhorse back that Hunt has shown to be, but his dynamic play out of the backfield has been breath taking. He has had to battle a top, top RB in Mark Ingram for touches and what he’s done with those touches has been remarkable, 13 TD’s and over 1,500 yds on just over 200 touches.
James: I almost went for Hunt again here, however I feel that Kamara also deserves recognition for what he achieved this season. Kamara was exceptional in all aspects of his game this season scoring on the ground, through the air and in the return game. He combined with Ingram to create a brilliant 1-2 punch in NO’s backfield, and had defences scrambling to try and stop him. He finished the season with 1,554 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 201 touches, which was extremely efficient.
*If DeShaun Watson had stayed healthy he would have taken ROY as he was having a fantastic season before his injury.
Jimmy: This was a difficult decision to make between Kamara and Kareem Hunt, but I think Kamara edges it. Kamara seemed to be effective in all season long. He has the highest yards per attempt with 6.1 and the highest amount of receiving yards among running backs. Kamara’s production with Ingram at RB has been one of the best the NFL has ever seen. With over 3000 yards between them and making the Saints a force in the NFL. Should we mention ousting Peterson out of the pecking order?
Mark: his one was a no-brainer, for me. Alvin Kamara has just been so much fun to watch this season. Be-it returning punts, barreling down hill and breaking tackles to move the sticks or moving the chains catching passes out of the backfield – the 22-year old can do it all! His 1554 yards from scrimmage may have been eclipsed by the 1782 yards from scrimmage put forward by Kareem Hunt – his haul of 13 TD’s did, however, better that of his Chiefs compatriot (11) – who was the primary back for his side, while Kamara was part of a two-headed attack devised by Sean Payton and the Saints, with Mark Ingram handling a seemingly large portion of the goal-line running plays for much of the season.
Matt: Alvin Kamara. He just got better and better as the season went on. In a season where Brees was able to throw a bit less, Kamara was able to take a lot of the work off of him. Ingram was certainly paramount to this too, but Kamara played a big part in the passing game too. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of New Orleans this season either. I think if they hold off Carolina (for a third time this season) at home, then they’re capable of winning in Philly. And it’ll be because of their run game too.
Your OTI Coach of the Year – Sean McVay (LA Rams)
Eric: Sean McVay is most likely the popular choice here given the turnaround from seasons gone by under Jeff Fisher and I admit that I’m a fan but my vote goes to Mike Zimmer here. The Vikings have managed to win the NFC North impressively with a record of 13-3, with Case Keenum under centre. I like Keenum, he seems like a nice guy from what I caught in Hard Knocks last season, but he’s nobody’s idea of a franchise QB. They have done so, not because Aaron Rodgers went down or that Jim Caldwell couldn’t deliver, it’s because of Zimmer and the team he has surrounded himself with on and off the field, with Norv Turner and a defence lead by Harrison Smith.
James: I really think there can be only one winner of this as McVay has transformed a Rams team that was atrocious last season. They have evolved from being one of the worst team in the NFL to making the playoffs, and they have a genuine chance at winning the Superbowl. McVay helped to bring Gurley back to his best and to develop Goff into a top QB in just 1 year. He really deserves this award.
Jimmy: I do not think there is any argument against McVay. The improvement the Rams have made from 2016 to 2017 has been incredible. What makes this so incredible is that the team hasn’t made a lot of changes personnel wise. The core of the team is the same that went 4-12 in 2016. With McVay’s guidance in 2017 the team went 11-5 and are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and 20 years in Los Angeles. He is becoming one of the new exciting waves of coaches to the NFL and at the age of 31 let’s hope it lasts a while.
Mark: This was the category that I struggled with the most and in the end it was Sean McVay who triumphed over Mike Zimmer. Zimmer has developed into a fantastic coach. Actually, scratch that, he’s been a great coach for a few seasons now, and has dealt with the adversity – both personally and that thrown at this team brilliantly – but it is just impossible to overlook the improvement of the Rams under their rookie head coach. McVay has rejuvenated Todd Gurley after a lacklustre sophomore season and has turned Jared Goff into one of the better signal callers in the league – a feat I did not think was possible at any stage during his rookie campaign. The Rams have gone from unwatchable to one of the NFL’s most exciting teams. Hell, even Tavon Austin looks somewhat exciting. That alone should win McVay the award.
Matt: Sean McVay has to get this. The job he has done has made Jeff Fisher look like a fool and McVay look like a genius. The Rams are great to watch too, putting up big numbers frequently. I think Zimmer has done an incredible job in Minnesota too – having to adjust at QB as often as they have, and still get to 13-3 is remarkable. That being said, I think McVay will take it. Great first season under media spotlight.
Your OTI Fantasy Player of the Year – Todd Gurley II (LA Rams)
Eric: I think most people will go Gurley here again as he most likely propelled teams to Fantasy championships. Others of note would include Hopkins and Antonio Brown. Personally, I look at who gave the best value for where you likely picked them and for me I’m saying Alex Smith, who did the most un Alex Smith type things this season, averaging over 20ppg. The push was applied in the 1st round of the NFL draft, when the Chiefs took Mahomes and the introduction of Hunt to the offence, spurred Smith to push the ball further down field, where the likes of Tyreek Hill run riot. Good on you Alex….now move over and let Mahomes in (I have him in quite a few leagues)
James: Hunt, Bell, Hopkins and Kamara/Ingram all would have to be in the running for this award, but really there can only be one winner and that is Todd Gurley. He was fantastic all season, and if you reached the fantasy playoffs and had Gurley, he almost singlehandedly won championships for his owners. In fact he scored almost 100 fantasy points over the 2 final weeks of the fantasy playoffs. If you had him on your team this season there is a good chance you won your title or at least got to the playoffs.
Jimmy: I’ll be honest; I am not great at fantasy football, but I won my league this year, so I must be doing something right! So for me, Carson Wentz has been my MVP in fantasy. I picked him up on waivers and he performed the best for me until he was injured. 33 TDs in 13 games made him one of the best points scorers in fantasy. Yes, I could’ve chose Gurley or Hunt who were big points scorers, but Wentz helped me the most. Honourable mentions to Keenan Allen and Minnesota D who helped me out a lot too.
Mark: Let me preface this by saying that, across 5 leagues, I drafted the following players this season; Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr, David Johnson, Mike Evans and Jordy Nelson. So you’d think my 2017 fantasy football experience would be sullied somewhat. Alas, you would be right – for the most part – that is, until we come across the team I drafted last – just two days prior to the start of the season. Step forward Todd Gurley II, the lead Running Back of my underachieving ‘Breesus King of the Drews’ franchise. Gurley was sensational. As I mentioned above, Gurley has been my favourite player to watch this season and his 319.30 points were definitely helped with that.
Matt: Gurley for me. I didn’t have a great year in fantasy myself, due to OBJ, Rodgers and a few others dropping like flies, so I could only look on in envy as our league leader went 14-0 with Todd at the helm. Goddam injuries.
And Finally, Your OTI Superbowl Picks
Colm: Minnesota Vikings 30 – 23 Chiefs
Eric: New England Patriots 31 – 34 New Orleans Saints
James: Los Angeles Rams 34 – 31 Kansas City Chiefs
Jimmy: New Orleans Saints 27 – 24 Pittsburgh Steelers
Mark: Pittsburgh Steelers 31-34 New Orleans Saints
Matt: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – 26 Minnesota Vikings
Be sure to get involved in the conversation by letting us know who your MVPs were on Twitter at @OvertimeIreland. You can follow the team on Twitter too: @TheColmKelly, @KillianBowe91, @Matdinho, @MarkGordon_, @JamesMaguire21 and @EricJohnFlynn – Happy Playoffs, folks
This OTI piece was compiled by Matt Carolan. Matt is a New York Football Giants fan from Co Wicklow, and is currently working in marketing. Matt can be found on twitter at