When discussing this year’s NFL MVP Race, a few names come to mind. The Dallas Cowboys throw two names into the mix, the Patriots have their usual candidate, as do the Packers – while the Raiders and Falcons – get involved in the conversation this year as well.
First, let’s trim out who won’t get the award.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and . . . Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot. This isn’t a bias thing either. I actually have nothing against the Cowboys, or their fans – I think both get a bad rap, to be honest. . . either way, these two – won’t be in consideration and here’s why. Dak Prescott, stepped into some big shoes to fill this season and handled all of the pressure of being the Cowboys starting quarterback with the poise and consistency teams want in their franchise QB. He threw for 23 touchdowns and ran for 6, had a completion percentage of 67.8% and threw for over 3600 yards. Impressive – for a rookie. Those numbers are great, and by comparison, his stats looked a whole-lot-better than reigning MVP Cam Newton’s. The issue with Dak is those are good QB numbers, but not MVP-caliber quarterback numbers AND. . . the powers that be won’t give this award to a rookie. . . Zeke Elliot was one of the most exciting players to watch this season, and his success running the ball could very well have been the main reason for Dak’s success this year. . .Elliot finished as the league’s top rusher with 1631 yards, 15 touchdowns and at an average of 5.1 yards a carry. He made the NFL’s All-Pro First team as a rookie and showed not only his ability to run but to catch and block at the position. The issue here is that Demarco Murray played behind this same offensive line in 2014, ran for about 200 more yards than Elliot and did not win the award AND. . .the powers that be won’t give this award to a rookie. . .
Now, let’s look at who shouldn’t get the award.
Let me preface this by saying: “I love Tom Brady.” There is not a thing to like about this man as a football player. The professionalism, the consistency, the mastery of his system and that super-hero like chin – it’s all there. The issue here is, as dominant as Brady was this season, and as much as one must love his “revenge tour” this year – he missed 25% of the season due to a suspension. Yes, the suspension was petty and pathetic, but that’s not the issue here. When looking at the numbers, he actually had a better season than the previously mentioned Dak Prescott (who started every game for the Cowboys this season). Brady is a marvel to watch, a future Hall of Famer – and if he played a full 16 games this year, it wouldn’t even be close. . . Someone else who didn’t play a full 16 games, albeit in the most “unfortunate of fashions” is the Raiders’ QB, Derek Carr. Although impressive at 63% completion percentage, it falls short of Brady and Dak – and he finished with 28 touchdowns to his six interceptions. He was surely on his way to throwing for over 4000 yards, but his season was cut short due to a leg injury received in his week 15 contest against the Colts. The Raiders, without Carr, ultimately dropped from a bye-week to a wild card in the playoffs and got booted out in the wild-card round by the Houston Texans. Sure, his value was evident, as his absence made his team subsequently collapse but an MVP should be able to finish out the season – not be on the sidelines when the team desperately needs him. It’s a tough break, but this is real life. . . This brings me to Aaron Rodgers. My bias is a bit full blown here (BearDown for life) but Rodgers threw for over 4400 yards and a league leading 40 touchdown passes. His heroics have been drooled over and over by commentators every week and his smug smile on this eight-game winning streak is the prominent image the NFL has going for itself right now. Let’s not forget though this is a team we wrote off somewhere in that four-game losing streak, where Rodgers looked either “off” or generally “uninterested.” Folks love to live in the present, but this is an award based on a whole season – not the last few weeks. When it’s all said and done, it will come down to the numbers and because of that –
. .. The winner is. . .
Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, Rodgers has two more touchdown passes than Ryan, but where else does Rodgers edge out Ryan? Not in yards per game, yards per attempt, not in completion percentage, rating or even yards (where Rodgers falls short by about 500 yards although he attempted almost 80 more passes than Ryan). “Matty Ice” has been the leader of the NFL’s strongest offense this season and has earned the respect to be in that group of “next level” quarterbacks in the league (I refuse to use the word “Eli—” ah, you almost got me!). In his ninth NFL season, Ryan has put together his best season to date. At 31 years old, he could be at his “veteran savvy” stage, which means we should expect this level of consistency for years to come. There is no doubt, Matt Ryan should win the MVP this year, and maybe another in the future.