NFL – MY PICK FOR 2014 MVP

Now that the 2014 NFL regular season is officially behind us and the playoff picture is now clear, it is time to have the awards conversation once again.

Each year at this time, the Associated Press processes the votes of 50 sportswriters to determine awards for the following categories: offensive & defensive players of the year, coach of the year, comeback player of the year, offensive & defensive rookies of the year, All-Pro team, and the MVP.  The winners are revealed during Super Bowl week.

Personally, I think awards for excellence are a great way to pay tribute to the best players of the league each season, but it seems pretty silly to me that people actually vote on most of those categories.  I believe that the winners should be based purely on statistics and awards handed to those leaders in certain categories.

The only exceptions are the MVP & coach of the year awards, which are subjective categories.  They require a person to sift through the statistics, as well as form a personal opinion as to the value of who made the most impact for his team.

Further, if I had a vote for MVP, I would lobby for the entire season to be used as a basis to pick the winners, not just the regular season. It would give a clearer picture as to what the MVP’s overall contribution was at the actual finish line, not just three-quarters of the way through the entire season.

Alas, the awards are set up this way, so I’m only using the twelve teams who actually made it through to the playoffs to draw my candidates from.

I also consider the “Most Valuable Player” to mean the player who carried his team farther then it would have gone without him, not just the best statistically.

With that reasoning, J.J. Watt is scratched off my list.

Despite his obvious excellence this season, the Texans defensive tight end should be handed the award for best defensive player of the year, not MVP.

The fact is that Watt’s Texans finished with a 9-7 record this season and without a playoff berth.  Houston’s total team offense finished ranked #17 and total defense #16.  So, the team ended up right where they should have, based on the stats.

And, as valuable as J.J. Watt is to any team, his tremendous effort only pulled the team from landing around .500 or just below.  He’s valuable no doubt, just not the “most” valuable player in the league, especially if his team ended up just on the plus side of mediocre & not in the playoffs.

Other contenders:

DeMarco Murray (Cowboys RB).  There’s no denying it, the man killed it this year.  With 392 carries, he had 13 touchdowns and accumulated 1, 845 yards.  That’s 484 more yards than the next closest player (Le’Veon Bell).  He also topped all other RBs with 85 first downs.  But, his legs were not the only thing that carried Dallas forward this year.  Collectively, the Cowboys offense is dense with talent & chemistry right now.  He’s just one of the pieces of this Super Bowl talent-worthy team.

Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks RB). It’s hard to believe that Seattle would ever voluntarily part ways with this incredible player.  Despite what happens in the locker room, this player eats up yards on the field and is in the MVP conversation.  He also had 13 tds; 1,306 yards; and averaged 4.7 yards.  But, Seattle’s defense is the driving force of that team finishing 1st in Total Defense; 1st in Passing Defense; and 3rd in Rushing Defense.  That D is why I did not also consider quarterback Russell Wilson for MVP consideration, despite having a good year and rushing for 849 yards, the only QB in the top 25 to do so.

Tom Brady (Patriots QB).  Time and again, Brady proves that he isn’t just another pretty face. High in the passing stats again this year, he finished with a 97.4 passer rating, 5th in total touchdowns, and his leadership qualities led this team to be seeded #1 in the playoffs and a favorite to win the Super Bowl.  But, where would he be without Coach Belichick and that coaching staff?  And, Gronk?  Also, other QBs on this level had better stats and had way less time in the pocket than he did (only 21 sacks all year).

Andrew Luck (Colts QB).  Since Luck arrived three years ago to play for this team with Coach Pagano, they’ve finished 11-5 each season.  And, although Luck had a great year finishing 3rd in passing yards (4, 761); 3rd in passing attempts (616); and 1st in touchdowns (40), he had decent protection (27 sacks) and yet still threw 16 interceptions.  What is also worrisome is that the Colts 5 losses this year came against the better teams (Broncos, Eagles, Steelers, Patriots, & Cowboys).  The bulk of their wins came against obviously lesser teams (twice vs. Jags; Titans, Giants, Redskins), giving them a strength of schedule which propelled them to more wins.  It doesn’t show me anything special about Luck and this team and  takes away some of the value for Luck as MVP to me.

Aaron Rodgers (Packers QB).  It was a close call. He almost won me over due to his excellence in efficiency over all of the elite quarterbacks this year.  Yes, his team finished 12-4 this year even after his calf surgery.  But, let’s face it, he’s just plain good and that team is good too.  Since 2009, this team has landed over .500 with one Super Bowl win.  Rodgers may have elevated his play after the infamous “R-E-L-A-X” statement earlier in the season, but I can think of another QB who went just a bit farther to lead his team into the playoffs.

So, who is this QB and my MVP pick?  TONY ROMO

Romo edged out Rodgers this year as my MVP because he not only improved overall as a player (finished as the NFL’s leader in passer rating (113.2) and completion percentage (69.9) while throwing 34 touchdown passes, the second-most of his career) and finally help lead his team out of the doldrums by finishing 12-4 (after ending up .500 the last 3 years in a row), he did it all after coming off two back surgeries in the past two years, including herniated disk surgery in January and playing with broken bones in his back since October. The team wasn’t the same without him when he was out.

Also, after losing badly to the Eagles on Thanksgiving, Romo led his Cowboys to come back two weeks later and dominated that team for a win in Philadelphia.   It was one of 4 straight wins the Cowboys had during the last 4 games of the season.  Historically, Dallas has not done that since, well – they’ve never done that.  There always seemed to be a collapse in December for this team.  But, not this year.  Romo finally led this team with his excellence and dare I say – leadership skills.

The bottomline reason that Dallas was able to get over the hump and into the playoffs after a serious drought, was chiefly because Romo led them there.  He had great help, but as the quarterback, he firmly had his hands on the wheel of the ship and stayed the course.  Now, let’s see how far the ‘Boys can go into the playoffs.

 

 

 

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