There is talk that a player who has not taken a snap is the MVP, because his team is so terrible with him out. A few weeks ago, I poked fun at Gregg Doyel for saying Tebow should be a MVP candidate, but he was just ahead of the curve. Writers in search of the next Tebow topic, like sharks to chum, are coming out of the water to name Tim Tebow as the MVP. Just look at where the Broncos would be without him, says Greg Couch of Fox Sports. He should be MVP because not only has he saved the Broncos’ season, “he’s saved the entire NFL,” says Dan Wolken. (Oh. . . brother).
Then there’s James Walker, the AFC East ESPN blogger, who claims that Tom Brady, not Aaron Rodgers, is the MVP.
This is not to discredit Rodgers, who is having a tremendous season. But sometimes numbers and hype get in the way of what the Most Valuable Player award, by definition, actually means.
The award is meant for the player who is the most important to their team. Let that sink in, because this is a key element to this debate.
Numbers and hype. Any time we want to diminish someone’s accomplishment, I guess we can go to numbers and hype. The hype that comes with being undefeated. The numbers that come with actually making plays on the field. I’m pretty sure those 70% completions, the touchdowns that are on pace to challenge the most TD’s in a single season, the yards per attempt that joins Peyton Manning (2004) as the only quarterback to exceed 9 yards every time he attempts a pass, reflect what we are actually seeing on the field.
Aaron Rodgers is simply having perhaps the best quarterback season, and if not, definitely in the top five, in the last fifty years in the NFL. Just before the halfway point, I wrote that Aaron Rodgers was on pace for an all-time great season, and all he has done since then is continue his torrid pace. He still hasn’t had a single game all year with a passer rating below 100. I mentioned that he was near the lead in all four categories used in the passer rating formula. Well, now, he is leading the Quadruple Crown. He has the highest completion percentage in the league, has the highest touchdown percentage, the lowest interception rate, and the highest yards per pass. That folks, is historical dominance.
So here we have a basic entrance exam to being able to talk about the NFL, “if you have a quarterback having one of the greatest seasons of all-time, who is the MVP”, and so many are failing so miserably.
Tom Brady is having a great season, as is Drew Brees. In a typical year, they would both be serious MVP candidates. We’ve had 28 seasons since 1970 when a quarterback was named MVP, and if Tom Brady actually did win it over Rodgers, it would be the largest difference between the ultimate winner and the league leader in measures of performance like passer rating and adjusted net yards. (The largest difference right now: Joe Montana winning in 1990 instead of Jim Kelly).
Using the league environment adjusted numbers, and comparing Rodgers to the 28 other seasons that resulted in MVP’s for quarterbacks since 1970, Rodgers would be right at the top, with Manning in 2004. Brady this year would be just below the average for a league MVP (better than 11, worse than 14, and even with 3, including himself last year).
What I don’t get is this unsupported statement that Brady is more valuable to his team. It’s vague, it’s moxie and momentum and gumption. Gronkowski is a pretty dang good tight end, and Welker is one of the best for what he does. It’s not like Rodgers has Jerry Rice and Brady is playing with the ’76 Bucs. With LT Chad Clifton out, Rodgers has probably the weaker line.
But people use “valuable” to come up with some excuse to make unsupportable points for their guy. Joe Posnanski wrote about the baseball MVP, and mentioned something from Tom Tango, where he would select the MVP based on who should be selected first overall if the real teams did a draft based on this season. Is there any doubt that GM’s would select Aaron Rodgers in 2011?
But instead, we try to search for beyond the obvious. Walker says the Patriots would be a worse team, probably out of the playoffs, without Brady, because of the defense. Well, there is this team out there who ranks 29th in rushing yards allowed per carry, ranks 29th in rushing yards gained per carry, and 28th in passing yards allowed per attempt. And they are undefeated.
Let that sink in again. The Packers defense may have some playmakers, but they are also giving up yards in chunks every bit as large as New England. The running backs, with James Starks and Ryan Grant, couldn’t be more pedestrian if they had a “Don’t Walk” sign hanging in their locker. The Packers are undefeated for one reason–the passing offense, with Aaron Rodgers orchestrating every move, is having a historically great season.
Yet, writers are bending over backwards to try to give the award to someone else. Amazing. But get ready for the Cutler for MVP article coming soon, and the article championing a kicker for MVP when he wins some late important games.
At least Vegas knows what is up, and the people that actually have to put their money where their mouth is think it is such a runaway that they have pulled further action on winning the MVP off the board. They are instead now taking action on who will finish runner up, with Brady the favorite.
My faith in humanity, destroyed by the degenerate writers, has been restored by the degenerate gamblers.
[photo via Getty]