A delayed hello to everyone. The Corner is coming out a day later than usual to make space for the wonderful tributes to BAHS legend John Durham. Today’s column is a little different so I won’t waste time, let’s begin.
Final MVP rankings:
T5. Patrick Mahomes
T5. Tom Brady
Let’s talk about the MVP award.
The acronym stands for most valuable player. It’s a term that presents a unique challenge in modern football. Maybe 80 years ago it was a clearer term. Teams ran demonstrably more than they threw, defenses had free reign and players played in two if not all three phases of the game.
Real and creative arguments could be made for a variety of different positions to win the award.
A player who was truly outstanding could demonstrate his value, regardless of position. That can’t be said anymore. It hasn’t been said for the last 25 years really.
Quarterback is the most important position in football.
The value of a game-changing quarterback is unparalleled. I’d say it was priceless but that isn’t true. Kansas City put a half billion dollar price tag on such a QB and everyone in the NFL world went, “that makes sense,” without a trace of sarcasm.
Quarterbacks have essentially eliminated other positions from winning the award.
It’s easy to understand why, but the MVP award has lost its value for that reason. The last few seasons it seems as though the quarterback with the best statistical season wins the award, as opposed to the QB or player who truly mattered the most to their team.
Derek Carr in 2016, for instance, carried the Raiders to a 12-3 record but got hurt in week 16. The Raiders got crushed by Denver in week 17 and then were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Brock Osweiller-led Texans. Carr’s value was unmistakable but he lost out to Matt Ryan who had the best QB season, although the Falcons had a worse record.
There need to be guidelines of course.
A team needs to be in the playoffs and should preferably be a playoff contender. If someone plays poorly for the first six or seven games of the season, is solid for another four games and then goes on a tear to end the season, that shouldn’t put them in the MVP conversation. Like with Aaron Rodgers in 2016 or Mahomes this season.
Speaking of, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady look like front-runners for the award and from a statistical standpoint, it’s easy to see why.
Brady is first in the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns while Rodgers is ninth and tied for third, respectively. Brady has had three or four bad games this season while Rodgers has mostly been great since an ugly week one loss to the Saints.
Here’s the rub — both of their teams are elite.
The Packers and Buccaneers are among the most well-coached, talented and deep rosters in the entire league. Make no mistake, both greats are doing more with more, but their value to their teams is less than that of other MVP hopefuls because Green Bay and Tampa are less reliant on their QBs playing well.
On the other hand, the Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them.
Buffalo needs Allen to play at an elite level, and when he does, the Bills look like Super Bowl contenders. When he doesn’t, they look lucky to be in the postseason.
He’s performed at an elite level this whole year, but unlike Brady or Rodgers, if Allen plays poorly, he can’t rely upon an elite defense to bail him out. Devin Singletary has looked good in the last few games, but no one is scared of the Bills rushing attack. Unlike the respect afforded to Tampa Bay or the Packers’ two-headed monster of A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones.
The same can be said for Joe Burrow and Jonathan Taylor.
Burrow, who has thrown for 971 yards and eight TDs in his last two games, has given the Bengals their first AFC North crown since 2015. He’s been stellar for much of the season. He’s also had some awful games in Cincy losses. A similar story can be read for Mahomes, despite his return to elite status in the last eight weeks.
Jonathan Taylor has had a season for the ages, winning the rushing triple crown.
He’s been the best running back in the league and whoever is second, isn’t particularly close. But the Colts aren’t in the playoffs and (confusingly) they turned to Wentz, not Taylor, when the season was on the line. It’s easy to argue that an RB shouldn’t be faulted for his team’s failure. Except if this is an MVP discussion, that’s the point, he wasn’t able to put his team on his back, and into the playoffs.
So who do I think should be MVP?
It’s hard. No one has truly outshone the rest of the league this year.
Everyone above has an excellent argument as well as some legitimate faults. Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott and Matt Stafford aren’t even on the list. Neither is T.J. Watt, someone the Steelers assuredly wouldn’t be in the postseason without.
But, looking at the best balance of value to team and season-long excellence, I do think Josh Allen should be MVP. The final race will be close and I’m sure that if the Bills fare poorly, he’ll be blamed, deserved or not.
I’ve gone long here so my end-of-season award rankings will come out next week. Most of the players made it to the playoffs so that should provide some excellent matchups anyway.
The state of Georgia is having an electric run.
The Atlanta Hawks made it to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Braves are defending World Series winners. And of course, the University of Georgia Bulldogs have broken their 40 year-long football championship drought.
Congratulations, it was well earned.
Stetson Bennett IV will never buy another drink in Athens or Atlanta and for good reason. And unlike most years, the championship game was highly entertaining for the rest of us.
The offseason will be long for the college football faithful. That’s alright, if your team wants to dethrone Georgia, they have recruiting to do.