The Offensive (MVP) Most Valuable Player on any NFL team is historically the one with the most yards, receptions, and/or touchdowns. The prestigious award goes to an athlete that displays grace, speed, agility, and is a playmaker. A player who demands the spotlight on the field and can break a game wide open in a matter of seconds by scoring on an acrobatic reception, a precise pass with touch and accuracy, or a mind-blowing cut and dash for six points. The award typically goes to the likes of Tom Brady for the Patriots, Julio Jones in Atlanta, Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas, or perhaps David Johnson in Arizona. However the 2018 Offensive MVP in Jacksonville will most likely not score a touchdown, complete a pass, or have positive rushing yards because he is an enforcer in the trenches.
Despite leading the league in rushing, the Jaguars rushing attack sputtered several times throughout the year in key situations against the Jets, Cardinals, Titans, and Patriots. In the waning moments of the AFC Championship Game, running back Leonard Fournette’s last four carries in New England netted just three yards. That’s right, three yards and no first downs.
The focus of the off-season was to bring in a mauler, a proven veteran, enter Pro Bowl Guard Andrew Norwell (6′ 6″325 lbs). Norwell was lured away from Carolina with a 5yr-$66.5 million contract to bring size, grit, leadership, and power to an offensive line that was noticeably lacking at the end of 2017. Norwell plays with a huge chip on his shoulder after entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2014. Norwell is a huge upgrade at left guard and will solidify Blake Bortles’ blind side along with second year starter Cam Robinson.
Norwell has displayed his durability over the last few seasons and has started 42 straight games as an NFL offensive lineman, a streak many NFL players can only dream of. Norwell is a technically sound lineman who has the strength to maul the opposition as well as the athletic ability to pull block on stretch running plays in order for the Jaguars running back to gain extra yardage and move the chains. The last four years, Norwell played next to one of the top centers in the league at Carolina, Pro-Bowler Ryan Kalil and will now be teamed up on the other side with talented, young Brandon Linder for Jacksonville. The Norwell-Linder duo possess the ability to emphasize at the point of attack and continue to second level blocking schemes increasing the potential for Jaguars backs like Fournette , T.J. Yeldon, and Corey Grant to have running lanes in between the tackles in addition to bouncing outside to pick up yardage. Thus, focusing on the coaching staff’s desire to run the ball heavily and control tempo throughout the game.
While at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer was quoted as saying, “you need to beat your man for 8 seconds each play”. That’s it. 8 seconds per play. Andrew Norwell will win the 8 second battle more often than not, and his addition to the Jaguars will swing the battle in the trenches towards the offensive side of the ball in 2018. Once the dust settles, Norwell will be the Jaguars Offensive MVP, possibly without ever touching the ball or crossing the endzone.