Peyton Manning is going to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award this season. I’m not debating that. He’s going to win in a landslide.
The honor of being named the NFL’s MVP generally goes to the offensive skill position player who puts up the biggest numbers in a given season. However, in the true spirit of a Most Valuable Player award, Tom Brady should be this year’s winner hands down. Let me explain why.
The offseason losses
If you’re not an avid follower of New England, you probably haven’t thought about just how depleted this Patriots team is. First off, we can look at just how many players the Patriots’ offense lost in the offseason. We’re all familiar with the Aaron Hernandez saga, and while I don’t think anyone condones the actions of that psycho killer, it doesn’t change the fact that 483 yards and 5 touchdowns of production was lost when Hernandez was booted from the team.
Brady’s right hand man, Wes Welker, wasn’t re-signed in the offseason and instead is playing for the guy who will win the MVP this year. So how much production did the Patriots lose when Welker walked? Try 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brandon Lloyd, last year’s second best receiver statistically (911 yards and 4 touchdowns) did not return as well. So far our running total of production loss stands at 2,748 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Danny Woodhead is a guy that most casual fans don’t consider to be a significant loss, but when you look at the numbers it’s hard to that he wasn’t productive. Last season Woodhead accounted for 446 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, which really isn’t that far behind Hernandez. With the loss of these four players, the Pats lost 3,194 receiving yards (66% of last year’s total receiving yards) and 18 touchdowns (53% of last year’s receiving touchdowns). Needless to say, the offseason hits were beyond significant. Before the season even started, Brady found himself lacking some of his biggest weapons.
Now, you could have easily grouped Rob Gronkowski into the list of offseason casualties, as he missed the first six games of the season while recovering from his 58th surgery (I kid!). He was then reinjured midway through the 13th game of the season and will miss the rest of the year. That is 9 ½ games without last year’s top 5 receivers. Shane Vereen, one of Brady’s biggest weapons this year, also missed weeks 2-8. Danny Amendola, the guy who was “supposed” to replace the loss of Welker, has been hobbled all season. The three rookie receivers (Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce) have also all missed time.
Now that we’ve covered the losses and injuries of the offensive skilled position players, we have to mention the loss of some of the other key players. Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, and Tommy Kelly have all been placed on injured reserve. After all of these players were lost in the offseason or lost due to injury, it’s amazing that the Patriots could even muster a winning record, let alone earn a first round bye in the playoffs.
Fun Fact: Now that Gronkowski is out for the season, when combining last year’s production in the receiving game of every currently active Patriots skilled position player, you get the following stat line: 1,409 yards and 10 touchdowns. The same calculation for the Broncos yields the following: 5,073 yards and 36 touchdowns. Note that this doesn’t include Julius Thomas since he missed last season with an injury.
Tom Brady’s season
So what exactly has Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense done with this rag-tag group of skill-position players? Well, when you look at the cold hard stats, it’s pretty damn impressive. He has passed for 4,343 yards which puts him at 6th in the league overall. His 25 touchdowns aren’t going to turn any heads, but when you look a little closer, the statistics tell the story.
The Patriots have 15 rushing touchdowns when 6 yards or closer to the end zone, compared to just 12 passing touchdowns in the same situation. The Broncos, on the other hand, have 26 passing touchdowns from within 6 yards of the endzone. The heavier emphasis on running when deep in the redzone can account for the less-than-spectacular number of passing touchdowns Tom has this year.
I think one of the more important stats when judging QBs (I’m not an overly huge statistics guy when it comes to judging the quartberack position) is the number of points an offense puts up. The New England offense puts up an average of 27.8 points per game, making them 3rd in the entire NFL. While this pales in comparison to the whopping 37.9 points a game the Broncos put up, it is especially impressive that Tom Brady has managed to do this with the group of players he has around him. A lot of the naysayers (and there are a lot of them) have said that the Patriots are done without Rob Gronkowski. Well, without Gronk this season, the Patriots have still put up 23 points a game! For reference, this is about what Carolina scores a game.
What Tom Brady has done is nothing short of incredible. He has taken a severely depleted New England Patriots roster and earned a bye in the playoffs. If you were to take any other quarterback in the league and put him in Brady’s place at the start of the season, they might not even make the playoffs. The Broncos were going to be a great team this year regardless of who played quarterback for them. After all the dominating performances and amazing comebacks that Brady has made this season, he deserves the MVP.
Oh yeah, and Tom spotted Peyton a 24 point lead and still won.
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