Are we bored?
Do we not have enough to write about and talk about in regard to the NFL? Because there shouldn’t be a debate when it comes to the 2011 NFL MVP, yet we’re discussing the “MVP race” with growing intensity. The Tim Tebow argument has been made, and widely disputed. But now, someone has come forward with a claim that Tom Brady should be the MVP.
At this point, Aaron Rodgers is like the Mitt Romney of the MVP race.
ESPN’s James Walker thinks Brady is the MVP right now, but I think his argument takes the whole “most valuable player to his team” explanation a little too far:
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.
Rodgers has been lights out and putting up great numbers for undefeated Green Bay (12-0). But what happens if you take Rodgers off the Packers? They won’t be 16-0, but the defending Super Bowl champs would still keep the ball rolling with highly touted backup Matt Flynn and make it to the playoffs.
I understand giving a guy an MVP because he’s succeeded despite a bad defense or a bad running game or a bad offensive line. But aren’t we taking things a little too far when we start punishing or rewarding MVP candidates for having good or bad backups?
Yes, Matt Flynn would probably be more successful with Green Bay’s high-powered offense than Bryan Hoyer or Ryan Mallett would be in New England, but that has more to do with the fact that Flynn is considered to be one of the most capable backups in the league, while Hoyer and Mallett are unproven.
The Patriots survived without Brady in 2008, winning 11 games despite having Matt Cassel at quarterback for 98 percent of the season. I realize that this defense isn’t as good as that one was, but Bill Belichick is still the head coach and this team would still find ways to put up points and win games sans Brady. They just would.
And you have to consider how much better the Packers have been than the Patriots. If New England were also 12-0, I’d understand Walker’s case. But Brady has lost three games, while Rodgers is running the table. And Rodgers’ numbers are significantly better than Brady’s. Better numbers + better record = edge in the MVP race.
Walker talks about the full cupboard in Green Bay, but who’s sneezing at Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? Is Green Bay’s offensive line significantly better than New England’s? Nope. What about the running games? The Patriots are averaging 4.0 yards per carry, while the Packers are at 3.8. Brady’s received more support from his backs than Rodgers has.
And as far as the defenses go, both teams have been flawed. The Patriots rank dead-last in the league, but the Packers rank second-last. And Green Bay has actually surrendered more points than New England has (262 to 247).
So are those ancillary factors really enough to move Brady ahead of Rodgers? No chance. This isn’t a debate, regardless of how badly people want it to become one.