There are a lot of differing opinions on what makes a player the “most valuable” and how that should be ascertained, but first thing’s first: a career-year is not the same thing as an MVP season.
There have been a lot of pieces floating around the internet as of late that are touting Matt Ryan as the 2016 MVP, which is utterly absurd because he’s not even the best quarterback in his own division this year.
I typically believe that value should be determined by a multitude of factors, not the least of which is whether or not a player’s performance contributes to an overall successful season for their team. Being an incredible player on a below average team should rarely – if ever – get someone considered for the MVP .
That may be unfair, but that’s life. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the greatest wide receivers of all time and he’s almost surely going to retire without a Super Bowl ring. Sometimes extraordinary players get screwed.
With that being said, this is a weird year. The leading contenders for MVP all come with some kind of caveat. Tom Brady didn’t start a game until Week 5. Ezekiel Elliot is a rookie on the best top-to-bottom offensive rosters in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers’ Packers are 8-6 after a disastrous start to the season and have a good chance of missing the playoffs. Derek Carr has had a great season but doesn’t have the stats of an MVP and Matt Ryan’s 9-5 Falcons haven’t exactly been world changers. At 9-5, their one-game lead over the Buccaneers is tenuous.
So no matter what, the award is going to someone who may not have won it in a more competitive year; which means it it should go to a player who is perennially successful and whose season is not a career anomaly. That obviously narrows it down to Brady and Rodgers, and it for damn sure eliminates Ryan.
You know what else eliminates Ryan? Drew Brees.
As one of the greatest passers of all time, Brees holds a myriad of NFL records. His durability at his position and his ability to perform impressively in both up and down seasons has made him one of the most respected players in the NFL. This year is no different.
New Orleans (6-8) is currently the league-leader with 423.3 yards per game, ahead of Atlanta, Washington, New England and Dallas. That’s a total supported largely by Brees’ astounding 326 passing yards per game, the most in the NFL. Brees is completing 71.1 percent of his passes, leads the league in passing touchdowns with 34 and has also completed 419 passes this season, which is exactly 100 more completions that Ryan.
The only major individual statistic in which Ryan is better than Brees is interceptions; he has thrown just 7 compared to Brees’ 14.
This is all not to mention the fact that the Saints yet again have one of the worst defenses in the league, leaving Brees and his offense to battle even harder for every win. New Orleans has allowed 28.0 points per game this season. Only Cleveland and San Francisco have allowed more.
Atlanta and New Orleans have allowed almost exactly the same number of yards per game: 368.9 and 370.9 respectively.
Looking through the numbers on every side of the ball and among all the quarterbacks, it’s obvious that both Ryan and Brees have had to overcome very similar setbacks and have put up even similarly remarkable numbers. The only difference is that Brees does it year in and year out, no matter who is catching the ball or who he is handing it off to.
In a season like this one where the details really matter, the fact that Brees has out-dueled Ryan in the same mediocre division should be reason enough to disqualify the Falcons QB from MVP consideration.