Thursday, December 9, 2010

On the Brady-Vick MVP Debate

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Washington Redskins on November 15, 2010 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Here on the cusp of Week 14, three-quarters of the way through the season, most media outlets are coming out and naming Tom Brady as the leading candidate for NFL MVP, ahead of Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, and a host of other candidates.  Brady has certainly put together a strong case, but the professed margin by which he leads this race is astonishing.  Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports said Wednesday that the race "isn't even close" as far as he is concerned. At ESPN, Mike Sando wrote that Brady could sit the rest of the season and contest for the award: "It's that much of a runaway heading into Week 14." Wetzel went so far as to acknowledge Vick's candidacy, but called the contest between the two a question of "heart v. head"--
emotion over Vick's comeback against Brady's performance.

Awards based on performance should not be based on emotion, so I'm going to throw that aspect out, and dissect the two from an on-the-field perspective. Let's start with the numbers, shall we?

Brady fingersTom Brady has some truly ridiculous stats: after 12 games, he has put together 3,029 yards and 27 touchdowns against four interceptions, all on the way to a 10-2 record. His passer rating is a sky-high 109.5, a number good for eighth-best in the history of the game if it holds. He has done this with a patchwork collection of players, including a stellar receiving corps (Deion Branch, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker), two rookie tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski), serviceable running backs in Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (among the league leaders in names per name), and an offensive line that now showcases three Pro Bowlers with the return of Logan Mankins. He has an active streak of seven games without an interception going into Sunday's showdown with the Bears.

Michael Vick, on the other hand, got his seven-game streak without a pick out of the way to start the season. He has a 6-2 record as a starter (he came on as a back-up in the loss to Green Bay), has a passer rating of 105.7, just under four points behind Brady (not exactly a comfortable margin, as Sando would have one believe). His 15 touchdowns and two interceptions hold up to Brady's ratio. He has had the help of explosive weapons in Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Lesean McCoy, a talented but inconsistent Brent Celek, but he has had to deal with an injury-plagued offensive line with only one Pro Bowler, Jason Peters.

Both are dominant quarterbacks who control games and force defensive coordinators to shape their plans around their styles. It is next to impossible to limit Brady's throwing options and stop his impeccably accurate throws. On the other side, Vick has mastered the deep ball this year, adding another weapon to his arsenal of speed and vicious arm strength.

The simillarities end there, however. Brady is, ultimately, a single-threat quarterback. Of all the ways that he has shredded defenses this year, his feet is not one of them.

And now we come to the statistic that, oddly enough, is conveniently ignored by every single pro-Brady argument. Brady doesn't necessarily need to run, as his offensive line is one of the best in the country, but his 28 carries for 17 yards is fourth-worst among starting quarterbacks, leading only Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees.

On the other hand, if I asked you to name the leading rushing quarterback and gave you one guess, most of you would come up with Michael Vick. His 467 yards on the ground are without a doubt comfortably the best--Josh Freeman's 291 is the next-highest total--and this is from a Vick that has taken more to passing, looking for the throw before taking off. His offensive line has been average at best, leading to 23 sacks and countless hits, but has forced him to take his electric playmaking up the field at a staggering 6.3 yards per carry (compare to Jamaal Charles' 6.2).

In short, Vick has shown the playmaking ability of a running back and now as a quarterback, making him valuable as two players, as opposed to the one offered by Brady.

Speaking of which, the debate here is over who gets named the "most valuable player," not the "most best player"--and not just for grammatical reasons. A player has to have the most significant value to their team and make a significant impact. There is no doubt that Brady is invaluable to the Patriots, but he has had an absurdly talented supporting cast.

People write this off as freak coincidence, as players all having abnormally good seasons at the same time. This is partially true, but we're not talking about players who have underachieved and languished for years, with the possible exceptions of Danny Woodhead and Deion Branch. As mentioned earlier, Hernandez and Gronkowski are rookies, Tate is a gifted special teams player who holds the record for NCAA return yardage, and Green-Ellis is in his first year atop the depth chart . As for the veterans, Randy Moss is considered by some as the greatest receiver of his generation, and Wes Welker is regarded as the best slot receiver in the league.

Vick has been doing more with less in Philadelphia. Desean Jackson is one of the best receievers in the NFC but has been a victim of injury, Jeremy Maclin is an athletic receiver yet not quite on par with Welker, and Brent Celek has had one drop or incompletion for every fantastic catch. And the offensive line's woes have already been mentioned; ask yourself, what would happen if these two quarterbacks switched positions? Picture Brady in an Eagles uniform (I know, it's hard for me, too) picking himself up off the turf every other play.

Or better yet, imagine a starting-grade quarterback in place of Vick--say, Kevin Kolb. This imagining led Peter King and the analysts at ESPN to rank Philadelphia third and second in the NFC East, respectively. Insert Michael Vick, and this Philadelphia team is now 8-4, ahead by a game in their division, and headed to the playoffs if it can continue its current form.

In conclusion, both quarterbacks have had fantastic seasons and are deserving of the MVP award. Brady has been phenomenal as usual, making pinpoint passes and exerting his will as a leader and a general on the field, but has done so with a greater talent level around him, including an offensive line that gives him time to deliver those passes. Vick has been more valuable to his team, carrying them to wins with his throwing and running ability, combining efficiency with an unmatched level of ability.

If there is truly a most valuable player in the league, his name is Michael Vick.


  1. I hope you have since retracted. Vick now has thrown as many picks in 4 fewer games (one of bradys 4 picks was a hail mary at the end of regulation). Welker was injured, Branch was washed up, Moss is a nothing this year, Mankins only played the last 3 games, Pats D is of the worst in the NFL,and his most impressive win was against the giants (philly beat ATL without him). Brady beat the ravens, detroyed the jets, steelers and bears and beat a very dangerous SD team across the country.If you take away that hail mary int and the jets game from week 2 Brady has 27 td to only 1 int. So as I said i hope you have retracted.

  2. I didnt even read the second have when I commented. Brady has the better supporting cast? Are you kidding? did you see what vincent jackson did sunday night? Vick has If not the most tallented then certainly the most explosive and certainly the fastest wr / rb surrounding him. Welker has released a statement today that for the first time this season (week 15) he feels back to 100 percent following a knee injury. BJGE was never at the head of a mediocre group of rb's because he didnt perorm well enough. Im not sure how tates return abilities help tom brady throw the ball but he had only one nice play all year. and while Moss is one of the best recievers who ever played, THIS season is the 106 ranked reciever (not a typo). And as mentione d philly d is much better. Youre either a serious vick homer or you just dont know very much about either team.

  3. first off @Gavriel his name is DeSean Jackson not Vincent. if you're gonna attack someone, at least act like you know where you're talking about.
    second, you really think the eagles d is "much better?" that's just not a fact. yes the patriots give up more yards but thats because they are winning in the 4th Q and teams throw the ball while the pats play soft coverage. The eagles have given up 30 more pts than the patriots. I'd say their defenses are a wash. Brady is having a great year and so is Vick. Add in Vick's rushing yards and TDs and he is right up there with Thomas Brady. Period. His value to this team is immeasurable. He's 7-1 in games he has started AND finished. Brady sits there in the pocket all day with no pressure. Vick makes something outta nothing constantly. It could go either way but you CANNOT discount VICK.

  4. This is an absurd argument. The "absurdly talented supporting cast". Really? I'll give you Welker although he was not 100%, but talking about Tate's NCAA return yardage? This has nothing to do with the passing game or Brady, and he hasn't done terribly much as a WR this season anyway. Green-Ellis, Woodhead both low draft or undrafted players. The TE's have been impressive but they are rookies, who's to say it's not Brady making them look impressive.

    I will certainly agree his O-line is amazing, and of course that's a factor. But there are other factors, how much does Vick missing 25% of the season thus far effect his eligibility. How much does him running so much affect his sack totals (moves around too much, looks for the run and gets sacked, etc).

    Brady has also beaten almost every AFC playoff eligible or at least in-the-hunt team, and sometimes totally dominating top 5 defenses.

    Sounds like your a biased Eagles fan.

  5. This is a truly inept argument. Anybody saying Brady has had an "absurdly" talented supporting cast clearly hasn't been paying attention. Moss is not what he used to be, and was traded from the team. Brady has actually performed BETTER when Moss left. Only one of Brady's TE or WR have made a Pro Bowl, and only one has ever eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season. That particular WR is coming off a nasty knee injury. None of the running backs have eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season, either.

    Also, the Pats D, until lately, was suspect at best.

    Football Outsiders has Brady ranked first in DVOA and DYOR, both of which compare him to other people at the QB position.

  6. LOL better supporting cast? Wes,branch, woody. THey are Nothing, i repeat nothing without brady. They are all washup, teams cut them or traded them and now with Tom as the QB. That is the only reason they names are even mentioned, without brady nobody would even know any of them. Wes played for miami, did you heard anything good about him during that period? No!, Branch in seahawks, anything? no! woody with the jets, anything? NO! with brady passing game it open up the run game for Woody and Green. PLus, with a D dat pretty much ranked last, it brady that keep on outscored the other team. Take brady out and put the back up in with a D that ranked last and see how far the pats go. Super bowl run? they wont even make fast the first play off game. TOM BRADY >>>> Michael VICK anyday!

  7. BenDC...truly and idiotic article... going off pure numbers brady has over 1,000 more yards passing and more td passes. Add in Vicks 400 rushing yds and that's still 600 total yds behind Brady. Also that pats are 11-2 with more than 6 rookies starting on offense and defense...they weren't even considered contenders pre season. Brady's QB rating is also much better than vicks. Supporting cast? Are you serious? Moss played in 1.5 games, did absolutely nothing, except complain after games, and was shipped out in week 2. You sir are truly a moron...Brady is MVP hands down. You must be a Manning ball licker, equals bitter manning is stinking up the joint this year.

  8. patriots have had just about the same offensive line since 2006.

    2006 pats qb's were sacked 29 times

    2007 pats qbs sacked 21 times

    2008 pats qb's sacked 48 times

    2009 pats qb's sacked 18 times

    2010 pats qb's sacked 21 times

    why so many sacks in 2008 when they had the same offensive line? Tom Brady wasn't the starting QB, thats why.

  9. vick is good and has had a great year.

    Brady is the runaway MVP winner. And those guys were all right: it isnt even close.

  10. My two favorite players are and have been for years Tom Brady and Michael Vick so I have an unbiased opinion. To compare Vick and Brady how you are in moronic. You know absolutely nothing about the real game of football. I can promise the readers you have never played the game. Your opinions lack the seasonings of someone who has in game experience. Are you freakin serious? Brady has a better cast than Vick? Just a plain stupid comment. Brady's backfield consists of 2 non drafted backs and 2 well into their 30's backs. As far as recievers, Moss gone, actually better since they traded him. 2 Rookie te's, Branch who is only good when he as Brady throwing to him. And Tate, cmon man. Desean Jackson and Maclin rip it up. Avant is a solid receiver. Riley Cooper is a Hernandez type receiver. First round back in Mccoy. Philly has far more talent, but Brady is what makes the Pats offense look great. If you put Vick in NE and Brady in Philly, Vick is gonna have far less success than Brady. Do you really think that Brady will not work with the Offensive line if he moved to Philly. Brady is a cerebral qb. This was an article filled with plain dumb statements and this guy should stay out of the sports profession.

  11. i seem what seems to be lost here is that Vick has missed 3 games. You can't just dismiss that as an irrelevant stat. Brady has thrown nearly 900 yards more, and has 12 more TD passes. He has a 7:1 (just about) touchdown to interception ratio, with a total of 29 total TD's. In reality that ratio should be just over 9:1 because one of those picks was a hail mary pass just before half time (i believe vs miami not sure). Also wasn't hasn't been mentioned is fumbles Vick has fumbled the ball 9 times, brady has fumbled it only twice. That boosts vicks TO's pretty high wouldn't you think. By the way your point that brady has a first class team around him where as vick's is mediocre is just straight up ridiculous. I won't dismiss vicks running ability as just another stat, it makes him one of the most dangerous players in the NFL, but this year, with 3 missed games, Vick simply doesn't deserve it. throw in Matt Ryan, Clay Matthews, and 3 or 4 more ahead of vick. Next year i look forward to a more valid argument from you.

  12. Im an eagles fan and I will tell you...

    Brady is the MVP...

    Sorry man, but Brady is having a monster season with what can be considered other teams throwaways or unsung players.

    Vick has a good supporting cast... although we could certainly use a better O-line!

  13. I'll just say this is an interesting article.

    I examined this a while back on just after the Pats-Steelers game when it was still wide open. But now it just isn't.

    You miss out the fact that the Eagles have won with Kolb at QB this year, and your "argument" about the Pats supporting cast being better is nonsense.

    Have a look at my blog and see what you think, but well done getting a mention on ESPN!!!

  14. As most of the other comments have already pointed out, this article is absolutely ridiculous. As soon as you made the "Brady has a more talented supporting cast" remark, you pretty much lost any bit of credibility you might have had as an objective debater.

    Brady is the highest rated passer in the league and has led the highest scoring offense with a team that pretty much consists of rookies, undrafted players, and two guys (Welker and Branch) who have battled injuries and were not 100% physically coming into this season. Brady has led his team to 7 wins against teams with winning records this year, by far the most of any player in the MVP debate. Against three of the toughest defenses in the entire league this year, Brady has combined for nearly 1,000 yards, 70% completion, 9 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 120 total points scored (those three teams being the Steelers, Jets, Bears). Two of those games were on the road!

    When you look at what Brady has done through Week 14, considering the strength of schedule he's gone up against and the amount of convincing victories he's lead his team to (even with a poorly ranked defense in almost every statistical category), it's not even a debate. Brady has been the runaway MVP leader for the past month, and it's only been widened ever since then. Sorry, but this article was the most insanely stupid and uneducated "debate" I've ever read.

  15. Even as an Eagles fan and a huge fan of Michael Vick's life redemption, I have to agree with the concensus here. This is just a piss poor argument alltogether. Tom Brady has been more dominant and made more (and a better record) out of less. His dismissive attitude about Randy Moss, less than stellar defense, and injured WR corps have not bothered him one bit. I doubt my man Mike Vick could do as well with the Patriots as Tom could do with the Eagles.

    I have to say, this is one of your poorest articles yet. I'm not saying I disagree with "Vick for MVP" (it'd be nice for the league, and Tom has already won it), but you didn't have to be so lazy in your argument. Sorry...

  16. So your case is that Brady has better weapons (highly debateable) and Vick is a better runner -- like this is news or some kind of insight.

    Vick has been great, but Brady has played in 30 percent more games and has the same number of picks. Plus Brady has played a far tougher schedule (especially when you look at the defenses he's faced and weather they have played in). Vick would have to be having the best year in history to even be in the debate, with so many fewer games played.

  17. Sorry, this argument is laughable. Brady has a superior supporting cast? You've gotta be kidding. Two running backs who were lucky to make a roster -- a starting wide receiver who looked washed up (Branch) and essentially three rookies (Gronkowski, Hernandez and Tate who was injured last year). Sure Welker is a great slot receiver but he doesn't have D. Jackson speed. This is a flaccid argument from someone from Vick's home state. Throw that dog a bone -- a distant second place vote.

  18. Part II: And I find the suggestion that Vick should get additional points for the "redemption" factor to be sick and twisted -- not to mention completely besides the freakin' point. WOOF WOOF!

  19. Wait what did you say? this argument is laughable? Did you watch the eagles comeback to slam the giants? HUH??? while you were still on your knees for tom brady, Vick led the eagles back from 21 down in 8 minutes. Vick is a legit contender for the MVP. no doubt about. and when opposing players think hes the MVP, you know the guy is special. eagles would have 6 or 7 wins without him. He is 8-1 as the starter (he got hurt against wash) with the only loss being to the bears where he nearly led the eagles back from an 18 pt hole. Everyone believes in him and that is the trait of a true leader. He is the most valuable player in this league. didn't matt cassel come in and win 11 games for the Pats? tom brady is great but Vick's season has been special, imaginable, amazing! hes been unstoppable, this team is on a mission LOOK OUT

  20. As a Pats fan, go ahead and say I'm biased, whatever, but Brady and Vick have been two of my favorite players forever; Brady because he probably is the GoAT (or at least in the discussion), and Vick because of his electric playmaking abilities. Now, that said, this article is completely, totally absurd, especially given the last three weeks. Brady has set two, repeat TWO, single season records that have been considered nigh untouchable, and not only that he has done more with far, far less. You lost me, sir, when you brought Moss into the equation when he was booted off the team a long time ago. Love the guy for all he did in NE, don't get me wrong, but seriously, he isn't a part of this year.

    I just want to know what got you thinking Law Firm, Woodhead, and Sammy Morris, in any way, shape, or form, were better than McCoy, who is an absolute BEAST (take this from someone who watches the Eagles on ESPN3). Discounting Jackson is a slap in the face to his ability (half of Vick's TD passes don't happen without Jackson being part of the play), and the Eagles O-line is actually one of the better units in the game today.

    You also lost me when discussing Vick's dual threat nature. Saying that Brady needs to be marked down for being a cerebral, pocket passer is like saying Peyton Manning deserves to be stripped of all of his MVP awards, same as Brett Favre. As much as I despise Manning and Favre, they are QB's like Brady: pocket passers who rely on their minds and arms to make plays. If you penalize Brady for not running, you might as well take away any MVP award given to a pocket passer.

    This could have been a great article, but it is just so lacking in any research, and if I hadn't known better I would've assumed this writer was working for the National Enquirer writing opinions without fact checking. If you want to be convincing in the future, please at least show some effort to research who you write about.

  21. Wow, I haven't even looked at this 'article' in two years. It was definitely written with a slant, picking and choosing categories to compare, and was written with a blind eye. Going back and looking at the performance, Brady's season was incredible, definitely deserving of an MVP. I wanted to see if I could build a case for Vick, and while it looked solid at the time, it seems like I'm getting a decisive 'no' here. Thanks for the (pointed) feedback all, I'll try to be a little more objective in the future here.

  22. And to set the record straight, I am a bit of a Vick homer--love his story back into the league, even though he's not the player he once was. I knew I was in the minority that year, wanted to play devil's advocate, and the voters responded with a unanimous vote for Brady. Amusing. And the right choice, I might add.