The good people at Pro Football Focus spend enormous amounts of time breaking down every player’s performance on every individual play throughout the season. In the end, players can then be given a final rating somewhere between zero (poor) and 100 (elite). If you want to learn more about their methodology, you can read PFF’s Player Grade overview.
What I have always appreciated about PFF is that while no player evaluation system is perfect, at least PFF is consistent. Players are graded by the same criteria which enables them to be given one of six grades based on their rating and position rank:
- High Quality
- Above Average
- Below Average
Based on free, public information available at PFF’s Carolina Panthers page, here are the final 2017 ratings, grades, and position rankings for each of the Panthers regular contributors on offense. Note that players who did not play enough snaps during the season were not given a position rank, hence the “NA” designation in the chart:
2017 PFF final grades - offense
|Christian McCaffrey||HB||83.6||Above Average||12|
|Fozzy Whittaker||HB||60.3||Below Average||NA|
|Tyler Larsen||C||67.8||Below Average||17|
|Andrew Norwell||G||88.7||High Quality||3|
|Daryl Williams||T||86.2||High Quality||5|
|Taylor Moton||T||62.9||Below Average||NA|
Offensive MVPs (played enough snaps for overall position ranking)
- Andrew Norwell – 88.7 rating, #3 guard. While Norwell didn’t make the Pro Bowl squad, he was named to PFF’s All-Pro team at his position. PFF noted Norwell finished second among guards in pass-blocking efficiency after he didn’t allow a sack or a hit on the quarterback all season long.
- Daryl Williams – 86.2 rating, #4 offensive tackle. Williams followed the same path as Norwell – snubbed by the Pro Bowl but named to PFF’s All-Pro Team. PFF reported this was a breakout season for Williams as his 86.2 rating was 16 points higher than his previous career high.
- Christian McCaffrey – 83.6 rating, #12 halfback. Most of the love PFF gave McCaffrey had to do with his receiving skills, though they noted after Week 15 he was improving as a runner. Through Weeks 1-8 he did not have a rushing grade exceeding 70, but he exceeded that mark as a rusher in 5-of-6 games between Weeks 10-15.
Offensive LVPs (played enough snaps for overall position ranking)
- Russell Shepard – 42.6 rating, #112 wide receiver. It was a rough year for Carolina’s new free agent addition. Shepard finished the season with just 17 receptions for 202 yards despite the Panthers being desperate for depth at the receiver position.
- Ryan Kalil – 49.8 rating, #26 center. This season was a tough one for the five-time Pro Bowler. A lingering neck injury limited Kalil to just six games this season and he was clearly limited when he did take the field. His 49.8 rating was well below that of his backup, Tyler Larsen, whom PFF rated at 67.8.
- Matt Kalil – 50.4 rating, #60 offensive tackle. Kalil joins Russell Shepard as a new 2017 free agent signee who struggled this year. Kalil was ranked as the No. 60 tackle by PFF, which is not great when considering there are 64 starting tackles in the NFL.
Other notable observations
Can’t catch a cold?: PFF shines a major spotlight on the lack of receiving options Cam Newton has been surrounded with. Among Carolina’s top six wide receivers, two were graded as “Average” and four as “Poor.”
No. 1 is #26?: Yes, it took some time for Cam Newton to knock off the early-season rust. Yes, Cam has accuracy issues. Yes, Greg Olsen missed most of the season and his wide receiving corps is below average. Yes, the offensive line was inconsistent. But are there really 25 quarterbacks who are better than 2015’s MVP? I highly doubt that.
Expired Stew?: Jonathan Stewart received a “Poor” grade after being ranked as the No. 52 halfback in the league. This isn’t all together surprising given his career-low 3.4 yards per carry, but he seemed to be running hard and at least occasionally breaking tackles behind an offensive line that struggled to open up holes.
Turner got burned?: Trai Turner’s “Average” grade feels low and the 14-point gap between Turner (74.8) and Norwell (88.7) seems exaggerated. I’d like to meet the 21 guards beside Norwell who are better than Turner.
Olsen’s bumpy ride: A healthy Greg Olsen is much, much better than the No. 20 tight end, but Olsen has been far from healthy this season.
Again, what I appreciate about PFF is that so much of what happens in football cannot be measured by simple stats like receptions, yards, and touchdowns. There are no perfect methodologies to measure subjective plays like blocking, a running back hitting the right hole, or a receiver running a crisp route. PFF’s system isn’t perfect (none are), but at least it’s consistent.
With that, props to Andrew Norwell, Daryl Williams, and Christian McCaffrey – the Carolina Panthers 2017 PFF Offensive MVPs.
Who is your 2017 offensive MVP?
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