Taylor McCloud — Pats Milita
I woke up this morning feeling great. I’m on break, I don’t have to work, everything was awesome. Then, Max Kellerman opened his mouth. I was sitting here, watching ESPN’s First Take, and this man had the gaul to say that Tom Brady cannot be the NFL’s MVP because he missed the first four games of the season.
In the words of Stephen A. Smith,
To put it simply, Max, you’re wrong. In fact, you’re so wrong it hurts. I know you’re paid to take the unpopular angle, and I know you’ve been outspokenly against Brady, but he absolutely can win the MVP award this year.
And would you like to know why, Max? Of course you would. First, there’s just no rule that says he can’t, and second, Tom Brady can win the MVP because he’s arguably been the best player in the NFL since Week 5.
That’s why, Max.
Since Tom Brady first stepped on the field in Cleveland, Ohio on September 9th, 2016, he’s been as close to perfect as quarterbacks get. Sure, he missed those four games (they were robbed from him), and his collective numbers suffered because of it, but if we’re talking comparable numbers, Brady is as deserving of this award as anyone else.
Right now, with the regular season completed, I believe there are three legitimate MVP candidates: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers. And if we want to talk about their numbers, there are seven to eight categories that can fairly be compared: completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per game, touchdowns per game, interception percentage, passer rating, and QBR. There’s certainly the chance that I’m missing one or two stats, however, for the casual football fan, the one I am talking to, these categories are the most important. So, here are Brady, Ryan, and Rodgers side-by-side.
|Tom Brady||Matt Ryan||Aaron Rodgers|
|Yards Per Attempt||8.23||9.26||7.26|
|Yards Per Game||296||309||277|
|Touchdowns Per Game||2.33||2.375||2.5|
Along with claiming the top spot in a few categories (including QBR, which takes into account specific plays by a quarterback & their importance in winning football games), he’s better than Rodgers in every category except one, and finished just behind Matt Ryan in most of them. Plus, he just set the record for the best touchdown to interception ratio, and before they do, let me stop anyone from jumping down my throat. The previous record holder, Nick Foles, attempted 115 less passes in 2013 (his record breaking season) than Tom Brady did this season. That right there should be enough for the whole ‘four less games’ argument to be kicked to the curb. But if it’s not, let’s talk about the most important category in football statistics — wins. When you put these guys side by side, you get this:
Brady – 11 Wins/Ryan – 11 Wins/Rodgers – 10 Wins
Tom Brady lead his team to just as many wins as any other MVP candidate quarterback in the league this year, and he had four less chances to do it. That’s incredible. I know this award is not a team award, and should not be given to the player solely because they have the best record, but how many wins you get for your team has to be taken into account.
Brady’s season was obviously shorter, and this same argument can be used in the opposite way, but in the twelve opportunities he was given to lead the Patriots to victory, he did it eleven times. And in those twelve games, not once did he put the Pats in a position to lose. The same cannot be said for either Ryan or Rodgers. They’ve both laid eggs. They’ve both put their respective teams in position to lose, and they both lost multiple times. Tom Brady did not. The near-perfection with which Brady played this season kept the Patriots out of danger, and propelled them to victory after victory after victory. Again, this isn’t a team award, but that cannot be looked over.
And don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying Tom Brady should be the unanimous MVP or anything like that. In fact, there’s a big part of me that believes Matt Ryan is the most deserving player. But to say that there’s no way Brady should/could win because he missed four games is ridiculous. In his twelve games, he’s arguably been the best player in the league. That definitely sounds like an opinion, and a biased one at that, but if you look at the numbers, it’s impossible to argue against it.
So, to circle back to the beginning of this, Tom Brady is MVP-worthy, and Max Kellerman is wrong. Simple as that.
P.S. I should have a more complete MVP analysis piece coming soon. The entire point of this was just to prove Max Kellerman wrong.
P.S.S. This just in: Pro Football Focus agrees.
Top-graded NFL QBs this season:
1. Tom Brady, 99.3
2. Matt Ryan, 93.1
3. Aaron Rodgers, 92.6
4. Andrew Luck, 92.4
5. Russell Wilson, 88.4 pic.twitter.com/gtRiPIS1qW
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 3, 2017