This year has been an odd one for the NFL. There have been pleasant surprises like the Dallas Cowboys, and the not so pleasant like Adrian Peterson’s suspension and Ray Rice’s suspension as well as everything in between. Although, when it is all said and done someone has to be MVP. The only question is, who is that someone? Well let’s take a look.
This all starts with how you view the term, MVP or Most Valuable Player… what does that really mean? Is it the player who means the most to his team? Or is it the player who posted the best stats all year? Ever since Lawrence Taylor won the award in 1986, every single winner has been either a Quarterback or a Running Back. I don’t think this is a coincidence either. Typically, the Quarterbacks are the guys who get most of the limelight. Games are won and lost on their shoulders and if a Quarterback has a spectacular season, the award is pretty much theirs to take home.
This season has been a little different. The typical QB studs like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady haven’t had such incredible seasons to put them over the top. In fact, Brees is on pace to throw for his fewest yards and touchdowns since 2010. Peyton Manning has been struggling mightily as of late, as he currently has thrown more interceptions than his brother/reining INT leader Eli. Brady got hot in the middle of the year, but got off to an incredibly slow start that caused a lot of people to write the entire Patriots team off. Brady still has a case though, as he has lead his Pats to the number 1 seed in the AFC. If Brady doesn’t win it, it will be only the 5th time in the past 12 seasons that either Brady or Manning hasn’t won the award. So, if it isn’t one of those 2, who should it be?
JJ Watt: Watt’s season has been nothing short of incredible. To start, he has scored 5 touchdowns in total, whether he is returning interception, fumbles or catching touchdowns this man has done it all. Watt’s 5 touchdowns have him tied with guys like Jason Witten, LeSean McCoy, Desean Jackson, Julian Edelman and Frank Gore. Watt also has 17.5 sacks (2nd in the league), 3 forced fumbles (3rd in the league) and 10 passes defended (2nd amongst non-defensive backs). His sacks have lost opponents 120 total yards and his impact on every game he plays is crazy. Watt’s ability to play every spot on the defensive line is uncanny and he definitely deserves to be part of the discussion for this years MVP.
Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is an elite quarterback who has an exceptional ability to extend plays and get the ball down field with the flick of the wrist. At home, Rodgers has been unstoppable. Rodgers has thrown for 23 TD’s and 0 INT’s at Lambeau Field and has lead the Pack to a 7-0 record. He will look to add to those totals this Sunday afternoon. Rodgers is on pace to finish in the top 10 in Total Passing Yards, Passing Yards per game, Touchdowns, Completion Percentage, and will have thrown the least interceptions of those qualified. If the Packers defeat the Lions this Sunday, the Packers will be division champions once again. The edge Rodgers has on a guy like Watt is that the Packers are much better than the Texans, and once again the Quarterback is usually the guy who gets the credit.
Rob Gronkowski: No Tight End has ever won the award in NFL history, but this season, Gronk has a serious case. For Gronk to take home the award, people really have to buy into the value of players. Gronk returned this season, fresh off elbow surgery and a torn ACL, and there is no doubt he was rusty at the beginning of the year. Through the first 4 games, the Patriots were 2-2, and Tom Brady had only thrown for 791 yards and people were thinking that Brady’s days as a Patriot were over…Whaaaat?? But then, the Patriots reeled off 11 wins in 12 games, as Brady threw for about 3,500 yards with almost half of those going to Gronk. Rob currently has the 12th most receiving yards and receptions in the league with a chance to crack the top 10 in each category. Yes Tom Brady receives some credit, for guiding a team without much talent, but none of this would be possible without the resurgence of Gronk. Almost 90% of Gronk’s yards have come since the start of October, so it is clear that he is definitely back. Gronk is a total matchup nightmare that is virtually impossible to stop, his size and speed makes a deadly combination that not many players can stop. Without Gronk, the Patriots would be stuck in a pool of mediocrity, and might not even be in the playoffs this season.
No team appears to be invincible this year, and nobody has really emerged as a front-runner for the MVP award. Many players have serious cases besides these 3 and it will be interesting to see who the voters decide on as the 2014-2015 NFL MVP.