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The MVP for the 2017 Los Angeles Rams isn’t Todd Gurley

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Picking RB Todd Gurley as the MVP is easy. It’s also unfair.

Los Angeles Rams LT Andrew Whitworth
Los Angeles Rams LT Andrew Whitworth
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams RB ”Just” Todd Gurley is quietly putting together a decent campaign for the 2017 NFL MVP. In fact in the SB Nation NFL midseason awards, Gurley received one vote for MVP. Mine.

Gurley’s currently third in all-purpose yards with 920 behind Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (1,070) and Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell (979). With the Rams at 5-2 if they can continue their winning ways, Gurley should stay in the mix for the NFL MVP vote.

So for this week’s NFL theme week, we’ve been asked to identify our MVP for our team for the season. The obvious answer is Gurley. It’s also the incorrect answer.

I get it. How can Gurley be a candidate for the league MVP and not even be his team’s MVP? Because there’s a player who just won’t get any real love for MVP at the league level who quite clearly has demonstrated his greater value to the Rams via Gurley himself:

LT Andrew Whitworth.

The proof? Gurley’s 2016 season.

Last year, Todd Gurley ran for just 885 yards in 16 starts, averaging just more than 55 yards per game. We know why. A combination of horrible offensive line play and horrible offensive system design limited Gurley’s ability to make the most out of his talents on the field.

A year later? That line play is much. That system design is much better. And where the latter rests clearly on the shoulders of Head Coach Sean McVay and Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur, the former is on the collection of five guys who have played nearly every snap up front. And none of them has been better than Whitworth.

It’s worth crediting the Rams’ front office for the signing. Inking a 35-year old to a fresh deal always carries risk. And in tabbing the Rams as the most surprising offensive line of 2017, former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz helped remind us why that risk has paid off:

So bravo to the Rams for snagging Whitworth. Along with his mates and McVay’s run schemes, the running game has taken off. Last season, the Rams averaged a poor 3.3 yards per carry and 78.2 yards a game. This season it’s 4.2 yards a carry and 127.6 yards a game. Also, they are on pace to cut their sacks by more than half. Last season, 49 sacks and this season, only 10 in eight weeks.

Bravo to the Rams indeed.

And bravo for Andrew Whitworth, who moreso than JTG is the Rams’ most valuable player of 2017.