Our choices for Jaguars offensive, defensive MVPs and rookie of the year

Playoff season has featured several stars

By Cole Pepper - Sports anchor/reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the Jaguars prepare for the playoffs, its time to look back at the 10-6 regular season that ended a decadelong postseason drought. The News4Jax sports department--Sam Kouvaris, Brian Jackson, producers Kevin Talley and Matt Kingston, analyst Mark Brunell and I--voted for three annual awards: offensive most valuable player, defensive most valuable player and rookie of the year. Here are the results of the 2017 News4Jax Jaguars team awards:

Offensive MVP

Keeping in mind that this is an MVP award, not a "most outstanding player" or "player of the year" award, so the interpretation of value can become very personal. That being said, the overwhelming choice for offensive MVP went to quarterback Blake Bortles.

Bortles remarkable season almost ended before it began when Doug Marrone opened up the quarterback competition late in the preseason. Neither Bortles nor Chad Henne really took the opportunity to grab the position by the throat, so Marrone made the decision, based largely on Bortles' mobility, to stick with the former first-round pick. As the season wore on, Bortles made that choice look like the right one. In a season that saw the Jaguars lose seven offensive starters to injuries for multiple games, Bortles threw all but four passes that the Jaguars attempted (Henne attempted two, wide receiver Marqise Lee and punter Brad Nortman each attempted one).

While his 60.2 percent completion percentage was just a hair over his career average, he did reduce interception, throwing a career-low 13 picks, five of them in the final two weeks of the regular season. While his yardage and touchdowns were down from the last two seasons, his decision making was better. He also benefited from the fewest number of sacks taken in his career, 24, down from 34 last year and well off his rookie season, when he was sacked 55 times, over 10 percent of the times he dropped to throw.

Also considered: Keelan Cole, Leonard Fournette

Defensive MVP

When he was signed as a free agent on March 9, nobody could have predicted that Calais Campbell would have a career year for the Jaguars. Campbell had been to a pair of Pro Bowls as an Arizona Cardinal, but he never experienced a season like 2017. Campbell almost immediately became a vocal, veteran leader in the locker room, as he had been in Arizona, but it was his play on the field that stood out.

Always good for more than a handful of sacks in his days in Arizona, Campbell found the move to Jacksonville to be a revelation. He finished the season with 14.5 sacks--second best in the NFL behind a former teammate of his in Arizona Chandler Jones. Campbell also earned his third Pro Bowl nod in his first year with the Jaguars. 

Also considered: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye

Rookie of the Year

When Tom Coughlin made the choice to draft Leonard Fournette in April, he told the running back that he was coming to Jacksonville to score touchdowns. In his rookie season in the NFL, the former LSU star scored 10 times: nine rushing touchdowns and one receiving score.

Fournette joined Fred Taylor as the only Jaguars rookies to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season as he passed the plateau in Nashville during the final week of the season. Fournette finished eighth in the NFL with 1040 rushing yards, despite missing three games with injuries. He also had the longest touchdown run of the season for the Jaguars, a 90-yard sprint in the pivotal win in Pittsburgh in October that capped his 181-yard rushing day, the best day of his rookie campaign. Fournette finished the season with five 100-yard rushing games but only one in the second half of the season. 

Also considered: Cam Robinson

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