Last week, we asked you to help us narrow down a list of candidates for the Turf Show Times' MVP award to a final three. The voting was very close, but in the end, Steven Jackson, Chris Long and Sam Bradford are the final three with Janoris Jenkins missing out by less than 10 votes.
All three are deserving, and now it is up to you to decide who wins.
The case for each.
Steven Jackson by Douglas M
NFL teams each have their legendary players. Written with the ink of hard fought yards and leadership, these players will remain imprinted forever in the mind of their fans. The St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have a long history of great football men leaving a hero's mark on the NFL. In 2012, Steven Jackson proved beyond any doubt why his name will be listed, not with just former Rams stars, but with the best ever in the NFL...
Big, strong and fast, Jackson embodies everything you could possibly want in an NFL running back. Drafted in 2004, with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft, the former Oregon State star became the heir apparent to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. In his career with the Rams, he's rushed for over 1000 yards in eight straight seasons. His 10,135 rushing, and 3,324 receiving yards - plus the 64 touchdowns he's scored - put Jackson in the rarefied air of past NFL greats.
Noticed by his peers as one of the best, Jackson hasn't been able to cap any of his NFL seasons with a trip to the Super Bowl. A team player through and through, he's displayed class seldom seen in this "me-me-me" age we live in. Coaching staffs, team owners and players have come and gone for the Rams, but Jackson has stayed. Nine season's into a future Hall of Fame career, Jackson plays with the same heart and leadership he's always shown.
In 2012, his team failed to make the post season again, but at no time during the year did Jackson ever give anything but his best for his team on the field, or in the locker room. His 1,363 combined yards this season featured a fiery player who never gave up, never flinched. As the senior statesman on the youngest team in the NFL this year, his example to teammates and coaches has been priceless. He's a warrior on the field, and a circumspect, intelligent person away from it.
I think Steven Jackson has earned the Rams MVP award this year, and I submit this single play as my bona fides.
Chris Long from Eddie P
The oldest starter on the defensive line (27) was also the biggest reason behind the lines success. He led the team in sacks (11.5). Even when he didn't get to the quarterback, Long constantly created pressure and drew double coverage. The havoc Chris created also made things easier for his line-mate Robert Quinn, who also had double digit sack numbers (10.5). Simply put, without Chris Long, the defense does not work.
He also talks a good game.
Sam Bradford from Eric Nagel
Sam Bradford has had quite a whirlwind year at TST (I don't think we need a recap). Still, if a quarterback receives the lion's share of criticism, the same should be true on the other side of things. Chris Long and Steven Jackson may be favorites of mine, but look at the facts:
- Sam Bradford had four game winning (or tying) drives this year. In those four games, Chris Long had 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Long had eight games where he didn't record a sack. Bradford had 1992 yards (64.53% completion percentage), 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions for a QB Rating of 91.58 during that time span.
- For every touchdown Steven Jackson ran, Bradford threw for five plus. There is no doubt Steven had an impact in the success of 2012, but Bradford was the catalyst. His lead receiver, oft-injured, was an undrafted free agent. His second target? A 4th round rookie. Bradford had the most passing yards since 2006, a team that featured Torry Holt (1,118 yards, 10TDs) and Isaac Bruce (1,098 yards, 3 TDs). Can anyone do more with less?
Sam Bradford won more games by himself on game-ending drives than the team won in 2011. Case closed.