Will’s Totally Original Quarterpole Awards
It’s not a totally original idea, many other writers around the NFL are doing the exact same thing. Its also a fun little exercise to stir some discussion about what’s going on in the NFL. I’m going to stick to the big awards players and coaches are likely to receive at the end of the season.
Defensive Rookie MVP – Brian Burns
There was a plethora of defensive talent in this year’s draft, so to be the best rookie at this point of the season is quite an achievement. Brian Burns has been the standout through the first four games of the season. I totally buy into the idea that ‘disruption is production’ when it comes to evaluating defensive lineman and Burns has been very disruptive to opposition offenses. 2.5 sacks, 9 QB hits and 2 tackles for loss are very commendable stats for a player still getting used to the speed of the NFL. Burns has also ‘effected’ two kicks (although these haven’t registered as straight blocks, he has managed to get his hand on the ball after it left the kickers foot). Hopefully the injury he picked up against Houston will not have him sidelined for too long.
Offensive Rookie MVP – DK Metcalf
David Jones has had a great start to his career, however one swallow does not a summer make. Kyler Murray has had a great start to the season and looks like he’ll be a decent quarterback for the future, however he still has his growing pains to go through. For me the two best performing rookies on offense are DK Metcalf and Josh Jacobs. Josh Jacobs has done a solid job running the ball for the much-maligned Raiders this season and he should be commended. However, for me, DK Metcalf has done similar things to David Jones. The draftnik community was very down on Metcalf coming into the draft, however he’s becoming just the deep threat the Seahawks need for their Schottenheimer -ball offense to work. Showing his immense athletic talents, he has long receptions of 54 and 42 yards. Must be nice to catch balls from one of the best quarterbacks in the league as well.
Defensive MVP – Shaquile Barrett
Cynical people might think I’ve done this entire exercise to wax lyrical about Sack-ile Barrett. However, it’s not just his pass rushing ability which means he appears on this list. Alongside the 9 sacks he’s already racked up this season, Barrett has 9 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended and an interception. For a guy who was picked up as a free agent those stats would be thoroughly decent for a whole season. To amass those stats over the first four games of the season is absolutely outstanding. On top of the impressive stats is the times these impressive splash plays are coming. Against the Rams, Barrett forced a fumble from Jared Goff as the Rams were driving to tie the game up. The Bucs recovered that for the game sealing touchdown. Also, against the Giants 2 of his three sacks came in the 4th quarter and resulted in punts on those drives. Barrett has been showing up when it really matters. Tampa bay
haven’t had a disruptive force like this on their defense since the heady days of Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. Long may it continue.
Offensive MVP – Dalvin Cook
In general terms this award is usually given to a player who’s had a great season but isn’t a quarterback. As we’re not really breaking with tradition then I shall do just the same. This award came down to two players for me, either Dalvin Cook or Cooper Kupp. Both of these players have carried the team on their backs all season with multiple 100-yard games. Both have been instrumental in their team’s success; however, I’m going to go with Dalvin Cook for this award. Unlike Kupp, where the Rams have played well around him, Cook is on a team currently bereft of offense. A combination of a coach’s stubborn approach to modern offense and a quarterback who flatters to deceive, the Vikings have to be thankful that Dalvin Cook has finally come good on all the potential he has shown up until his third season.
MVP – Lamarr Jackson
If the previous award was for the best offensive player who isn’t a quarterback, then this award is for the best quarterback. The obvious choice here is to give the award to Patrick Mahomes as the QB has continued where he left off at the end of last season. However, I have been thoroughly impressed with the amount of improvements that Lamarr Jackson has made to his game since last season. He’s increased his completion percentage from last season’s 58.2% to 64.9% this season. Perhaps more impressively he’s increased his yards per attempt from 7.1 to 8.3 yards. The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best offenses in the league, just behind the Chiefs, and without Jackson to unlock them I doubt they’d be as high-flying as they are. If Jackson can keep this up for the whole of the season then he should have an MVP caliber year.
Coach – Kyle Shanahan
In all of the Sean McVey hype of the last couple of years, I’ve always felt Kyle Shanahan was overlooked. So far this season he’s proving not only that he is one of the best play callers and designers in the entire league. In week two he broke out sweet play action pass play after sweet play action pass play. The thought de jour in the NFL analytics community is that offenses need to run a whole lot more play action. Analytics site five-thirty-eight says that play action passes gain an extra 1.39 yards on average compared to regular passes. Shanahans ability to scheme up wide open receivers with play action is incredible. He sets up his play actions with great precision and more often than not players streak wide open, unmarked by confused defenders. Unlike McVey, Shanahan uses variety to disguise his plays. Watching the 49ers offense hum is a beautiful thing to behold and the fact that the niners remain undefeated is a credit to Kyle Shanahan.