NFL.com’s Adam Schein has one of the 50 votes for the Associated Press NFL awards, including Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady does not have his vote. Neither does Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, nor Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
Schein is voting for Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr, and would have ranked Ryan, Rodgers, Brady, and Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, in order, as his top five.
“If you watched the games, you know Ryan and Brady were arguably more dominant,” Schein writes. “Rodgers' final six weeks were dreamy and iconic. Zeke gave the Cowboys' offense and defense a huge lift, leading Dallas to the No. 1 seed. But Carr meant everything to a Raiders team that was in major need of a great player and leadership at quarterback.
“Oakland morphed from an annual loser to a dynamite, clutch Super Bowl contender because of Carr, who led the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. That's kind of a huge deal. His talent and performance under pressure gave the team's culture a boost it desperately required. Looking back, the entire season screams Derek Carr, MVP.”
It seems like the MVP vote is going to be a different than many expect. Ryan has been setting records at quarterback while playing with one of the worst defenses in the league and many of the arguments applied to Carr also apply to Ryan- except Ryan has been playing much better than Carr.
I completely understand the arguments against Brady winning MVP, too. He’s been great, but Ryan was great for four more games. Brady also plays on the team that allowed the fewest points in the league since 2013; it’s hard to name a player “most valuable” when the entire team has been playing so well, unless their name is Peyton Manning.
Another strike to Brady’s case: head coach Bill Belichick should be a finalist for Coach of the Year (COTY). Last year, both Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Panthers QB Cam Newton won COTY and MVP, respectively, but Belichick and Brady are held to different standards. Belichick has to put together a herculean campaign to be considered for COTY, which hurts Brady’s MVP candidacy.
And Belichick certainly deserves praise.
“He's the best coach ever,” Schein writes. “The Patriots went 14-2 with Brady missing four games and Rob Gronkowski missing half the year with injuries. Don't take the wins, losses and division titles for granted.”
The Patriots posted the best record in the regular season while missing their best player for 4 games and their second-best player for pretty much 10 games (Gronkowski didn’t really play vs Texans or Jets). The Patriots shutout a playoff team with a third string quarterback.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett deserves consideration for how the team handled the transition from QB Tony Romo to rookie QB Dak Prescott, but Belichick and the Patriots strung together one of the most dominant seasons of the dynasty.
Neither Brady, nor Belichick would really care if they came in second or third or tenth place for these awards, of course. They’ve won them before and would rather win the Super Bowl.