Today on NFL Thursday, we have another issue to sidestep: The winner of the MVP awards voting for both the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers of America was Cheatin’ Tom Brady, so we will be re-assigning the MVP Award for sure. If you don’t like our methodology and rationale, you don’t have to hang with us.
We don’t tolerate cheaters here, as both historians and journalists, so it is what it is. Read on!
2010 MVP: Tom Brady (original AP & PFWA), Michael Vick (revised)
Two defensive players averaged at least 10 tackles a game: New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (174 tackles) and Tennessee Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch (160). Is Mayo a candidate, despite playing for the Patriots? We have to assume, logically, that Spygate put an end to that practice, so the only continued cheating from New England was on the offensive side of the ball.
However, Mayo (five passes defended, two sacks, one forced fumble) didn’t do much else, while neither did Tulloch (six passes defended, one interception, one sack). We also didn’t have a sack-per-game player or a player with double-digit INTs, so the defensive players fall by the wayside this season.
Three quarterbacks who don’t cheat posted QB ratings over 100 points: San Diego Chargers signal caller Philip Rivers (101.8), Green Bay Packers wizard Aaron Rodgers (101.2), and Philadelphia Eagles veteran Michael Vick (100.2). The Chargers went 9-7 and missed the postseason by a game, while the Packers won 10 games to qualify as a wild-card team.
The Eagles won the NFC East with a 10-6 record, although Vick only started 11 games (8-3). Vick also ran for 676 yards and 9 touchdowns, of course, so he had a lot of added value there. For now, all three QBs can be considered MVP candidates, and we will revisit the details below when we need to do so.
Only one running back topped 100 yards a game: Houston Texas youngster Arian Foster, who led the league with 1,616 yards and 16 rushing TDs. Overall, 17 backs ran for more than 1,000 yards on the season, though, and only Foster really stood out on rushing numbers alone. This may change when we look at scrimmage yards, of course, and the Texans won just 6 games, so it’s hard to look at Foster seriously as an MVP candidate.
Receivers were a mixed bag: Atlanta Falcons wideout Roddy White led the NFL with 115 catches, while Denver Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd topped the league in yards (1,448). Kansas Chiefs star Dwayne Bowe caught 15 TD passes to pace his peers in that category. No standouts there, so we move on to the aforementioned category.
Foster had a great season—2,220 total yards and 18 TDs with just 3 fumbles—but doing that for a 6-win team means its value was minimal. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (1,935 total yards, 8 TDs, 3 TOs) was the next-best performer, and the Chiefs did win 10 games to claim the AFC West Division by one game over San Diego.
No other player topped 1,776 total yards, so we have Charles and three QBs, really, to look at here with our frequent model for teammate support:
- Charles: QB Matt Cassel (93.0 QB rating), WR Bowe (1,116 total yards with 15 TDs and 1 TO)
- Rivers: Fullback Mike Tolbert (951 total yards, 11 TDs, 5 TOs), RB Ryan Mathews (823, 7, 5)
- Rodgers: WR Greg Jennings (1,264 total yards with 12 TDs and 2 TOs), RB Brandon Jackson (1,045 total yards with 4 TDs and 1 TO)
- Vick: RB LeSean McCoy (1,672 total yards with 9 TDs and 2 TOs), DeSean Jackson (1,170 total yards with 7 TDs and 4 TOs)
Kansas City also had RB Thomas Jones (1,018 total yards with 6 TDs and 3 TOs), so that was an interesting offense the Chiefs had during the regular season. San Diego had a third back (Darren Sproles) with 787 total yards, 2 TDs and 3 TOs, in addition to tight end Antonio Gates (782, 10, 0). The Eagles added WR Jeremy Maclin (1,000 yards with 10 TDs and 1 TO). Maybe we should change this to quadruplets?
In general, Rodgers had the least to work with, and we have to factor in Vick as his own additional running back, too, so we can probably eliminate Charles and Rivers from the conversation safely at this point, through no fault of their own. Rodgers also did not play a full season, posting a 10-5 record as a starter. So let’s look at the second QBs for both the Eagles and the Packers:
- Philadelphia: Kevin Kolb was 2-3 as a starter with a 76.1 QB rating
- Green Bay: Matt Flynn was 0-1 as a starter with an 82.4 QB rating
There is clearly a bigger disparity between the Eagles starters than the Packers duo. In addition, we see Rodgers’ team being better, as he was only needed to deliver one game-winning drive all season, where as Vick delivered three of those in fewer starts. Defensively, Green Bay gave up the fewest points in the NFC, while the Philly D surrendered 137 more points on the year than the Packers did. Rodgers often played with the lead, therefore.
We have done this before, giving the MVP to a player who didn’t do the full season, specifically a quarterback, and we’re going to do it again here in a bit of a surprise to us, too. Vick deserved this award for getting the Eagles to the postseason—with a sieve for a defense, as well.