Who is the NFL MVP?
Quarterbacks have been voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in nine of the last 10 seasons and 14 of the last 17. There have only been two defensive players voted league MVP, and there has never been a wide receiver. Is another quarterback worthy of that honor in 2017?
That’s the subject of our Talk of Fame Network poll this week – who was the NFL’s MVP? We’re offering up a few quarterbacks for your perusal – plus runners, receivers and defenders. Here are your options:
Tom Brady, QB, New England. The perennial candidate. Brady could be the MVP choice every season without any apologies. Even at 40, he was a top-shelf performer for the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Brady completed 66.3 percent of his passes for a league-leading 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns, with only eight interceptions. Brady passed for 447 yards in a game against New Orleans and added five other 300-yard games. He threw five TD passes in a game against Houston and four in a game with Miami. He finished fourth in the NFL with a passing efficiency rating of 102.8, steering the Patriots to 13 victories and the top seed in the AFC playoff bracket.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh. Even though Brown missed the final two games of the regular season with a calf injury, he still wound up with a league-leading 1,533 yards. He was leading the NFL with 101 receptions at the time of his injury but wound up fifth on that list. Brown posted a 213-yard receiving game against Baltimore and seven other 100-yard games. He caught nine touchdown passes, including a 51-yarder against Kansas City and a 41-yarder against Tennessee. Brown caught 120 or more passes in six games, helping the Steelers finish third in the NFL in passing and capture another AFC North title.
Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville. The Jaguars signed Campbell away from the Arizona Cardinals in free agency last offseason, giving him $60 million over four years. He proved to be worth every penny, finishing second in the NFL with 14 ½ sacks, forcing three fumbles and returning one 10 yards against Arizona for his first career touchdown. With Campbell coming off the edge, the Jaguars improved to second in the NFL in defense this season and first against the pass. Jacksonville rode that defense to the franchise’s first division title since 1999.
Todd Gurley, HB, LA Rams. After a disappointing season in 2016 when he averaged only 3.2 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns, Gurley seized elite status in 2017. He led the NFL with 19 touchdowns and led the NFC with 1,305 yards. He also led the Rams with 64 receptions, powering a dramatic seven-win improvement from 2016 to 2017 that delivered the Rams an NFC West title. Gurley scored 13 touchdowns rushing, including a 57-yarder against Seattle, and six more scores receiving, including an 80-yarder against Tennessee and a 53-yarder against Dallas. He also led the NFC with 98 first downs.
Kareem Hunt, HB, Kansas City. Because of a preseason injury to incumbent Spencer Ware, Hunt stepped in as the starting halfback and became only the 14th rookie ever to win an NFL rushing title with his 1,327 yards. He fumbled on his very first NFL carry in his debut game against New England but rebounded to rush for 148 yards and one touchdown and catch five passes for 98 yards and two more scores for a shocking upset of the defending Super Bowl champions. Hunt rushed for 100 yards in six games, sharing the league lead, and scored 11 touchdowns, eight rushing and three receiving. He also caught 53 passes for the AFC West champions.
Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota. The NFL has not seen a defense this dominant since the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, finishing in the Top 2 in all four of the major defensive statistical categories – run, pass, total and scoring defense. The Vikings finished first in the NFL in defense for the first time since 1993 and first in scoring defense for the first time since 1971, powering the Vikings to 13 victories and an NFC North title. Smith was the Swiss army knife of defensive guru Mike Zimmer, patching leaks on both sides of the line of scrimmage, against both the run and the pass. Smith finished third on the Vikings with 78 tackles for the NFL’s second-ranked run defense and intercepted a team-high five passes for the league’s second-ranked pass defense, breaking up a dozen others.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia. Arguably the NFL’s front-runner for this award through 13 weeks of the season. But he suffered a knee injury in the 14th game that ended his season. Still, Wentz engineered a turnaround from worst to first by the Eagles, posting an 11-2 record by throwing 33 touchdown passes. Even though he sat the next two weeks, it took a pair of TD passes by Russell Wilson on the final day of the season to overtake Wentz for the season lead with 34. Wentz finished with 101.9 passer efficiency rating to finish fifth in the league. He passed for 300 yards in four games and had four 4-TD pass games.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle. Wilson single-handedly kept the Seahawks in the playoff hunt into the final weekend of the season despite injuries that cost Seattle its starting running back and left tackle on offense and its best pass rusher (Cliff Avril), cover cornerback (Richard Sherman) and Pro Bowl safety (Kam Chancellor) on defense. That left Seahawks a mediocre team, finishing 15th in the NFL in offense and 11th on defense. But Wilson passed for 3,983 yards and a league-leading 34 touchdowns and also led the Seahawks in rushing with 586 yards and three more touchdowns in a 9-7 finish.