While the New England Patriots did not win the Super Bowl last season, Tom Brady had another highly successful campaign. The greatest quarterback of all time added to his already legendary résumé by earning Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro Honors for the 13th and third time, respectively. Furthermore, Brady won his third NFL (regular season) MVP award.
The Patriots’ passer did so by finishing 2017 in the top five of every major statistical category and leading his team to yet another division title and top playoff seed in the AFC. However, not everybody agrees that this makes Brady the most valuable player in the league. Take Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, for example, who thinks somebody else should have received the trophy: Russell Wilson.
Barr recently argued that Wilson’s sub-par supporting cast last season is why he should have won the award over Brady (via Field Gulls):
[Russell Wilson] balled. His ability to extend plays and he never has help, and he’s always able to somehow [...] He should have won MVP, I think, this past year. No offensive line, no running game, can’t name three receivers on his team and he just makes plays.
Barr certainly makes an interesting argument for the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback: The team had a down year in 2017 but Wilson’s play was a major reason why it still finished with an 9-7 record albeit out of the playoffs. Overall, the former third-round draft pick contributed to 4,570 yards of offense last season — or 85.6% of Seattle’s entire offensive output.
Wilson did all that behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines, and alongside a skill position group that lacked high-end talent outside of wide receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham. Not as bad of a supporting cast as Barr makes it out to be but still a long way from what Brady had at his disposal last season: Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, and Dion Lewis are just three of the names the Patriots had on offense.
That being said, Brady was absolutely terrific with these players around him — and despite losing Julian Edelman and Marcus Cannon for the year, and Chris Hogan and Rex Burkhead for noticeable stretches of the season. It is therefore not hard to argue that Brady was the best player in the NFL last year and as such had a superior season compared to Wilson.
And that ultimately is what the MVP trophy is all about these days: It honors the best player in football (or sometimes Peyton Manning by default) but not necessarily players like Wilson, who have to put their offenses on their backs to keep them going — something Brady of course also does to a certain point. Unlike Wilson, though, he will never lead the Patriots in rushing yards and “only” gained 73.0% of his team’s total yardage last year.