With the Super Bowl approaching and the league’s big announcement of season MVP coming any day now it seems to be a forgone conclusion everywhere you turn, look, or listen that that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be the 2010 NFL most valuable player. Well, I am here to tell you that that is not the case; and while we are at it, was Andrew Luck really going to be the first quarterback selected in the draft this year over Cam Newton, had Luck chosen to enter the draft? Really? The madness must stop!
Without a doubt football fans across the country will tell you that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been the most electrifying player to watch in the NFL this season: hands down! From the moment he was thrust onto the field in week 1 against Green Bay after starting quarterback Kevin Kolb was knocked out by Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., Vick came onto the field and dazzled in such a way that it left football fans in front of their television set every week yearning for more.
Vick came into that week 1 game towards the end of the 2nd quarter with his team down by double digits and began to wreak havoc on Green Bay; throwing for 175 yards and running for another 103, to bring Philadelphia back. It was an amazing performance but Vick and the Eagles fell just short losing 27-20. At the conclusion of that game Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. said he was exhausted from chasing Vick around for a half and hoped he never had to see Vick ever again.
From that moment Michael Vick had gained the attention of the Nation and eye balls across the country did not leave the television set all season long whenever Michael Vick was performing, and by the time the season was over a man who was cast as public enemy #1 among sports fans just months before had captured the imagination of the nation; even making headlines on national news telecasts i.e. CCN, MSNBC, and all the 6:30 evening news broadcasts on the local networks.
Two performances in particular by Vick this season bested those of any other player this NFL season and should be placed in a time capsule to stand the test of time until we see another performance that equals it. On November 15th in front of a nationally televised Monday Night Football audience Michael Vick went on the road to Washington D.C. against the Redskins and threw for 333 yards connecting for four touchdown passes while also running for another 80 yards and two more scores on the ground. Vick single-handily put the game so far out of reach that midway through the third quarter Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid began to slowly call the dogs off out of respect to the opponent. The Vick led offense showed good sportsmanship and stopped attacking, or else the embarrassing numbers Vick put up that night would have been even more ridiculous. As it was Vick’s performance may well go down as the greatest single game ever played by a quarterback. The Eagles won 59-28 and the 59 points were the most scored in the 40 year history of Monday Night Football.
Then On December 19th, again on the road, down 31-10 with a little under 8:00 minutes to play in the 4th quarter against division rival New York with first place and the division on the line Vick rallied his team back, running for 94 fourth quarter yards and accounting for three touchdowns to tie the score at 31 all with 1:16 left on the clock. That set the stage for Philadelphia’s Desean Jackson to punctuate the “miracle at the meadowlands” part two, running back a game winning put return as time expired, ruining the season of their arch-rival in the process.
It is fair to say that Michael Vick is the most dangerous player in the National football league. Everyone is forced to admit this when he produces one of his incomparable performances. From station to station up and down the radio and television dial you hear the talking heads showering him with superlatives; especially all the former NFL quarterbacks, all of whom give it up to Mike Vick. After Vick’s six touchdown demolition of the Washington Redskins on November 15th everyone was asking the questions: “can Michael Vick be stopped?” “How do you stop Michael Vick?” Among those asking the question was the coach of the team slated to play Vick’s Eagles the following week: The New York football Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin spoke about how he was watching the Eagles-Redskins game from home, taking notes and preparing for the following week’s matchup. He confessed that while watching in astonishment, like the rest of the nation, he had to put down his pen and pad and simply take in the game as a fan! Vick was putting on such a show that even he got caught up in the moment. Coughlin went on to say that what came next was a sudden feeling of sickness, knowing it was he who had to prepare next to stop Vick the following weekend.
When Coughlin and the Giants met Vick in front of another nationally televised audience six days later the Giants unleashed a relentless pass rush against the Philadelphia quarterback that comprised of a series of blitzes. Up until that point Michael Vick came into that game with zero interceptions, zero fumbles: zero turnovers. The Giants managed to rough Vick up that night, sacking him three times and hitting him many more, causing him to lose a fumble for his first turnover of the season. The rest of the NFL, like the nation at large, was watching; and since that game the book to defense Vick has been to blitz him, blitz him, blitz him!
Michael Vick is so dangerous an offensive weapon that defensive coordinators have been left to blitz him on what seems like every down. Anyone who watched Vick and the Eagles, and Tom Brady with the Patriots, this season clearly saw that Vick was up against a more vicious and concentrated pass rush. This was true week in and week out, and Vick took way more of a beating this season than Brady because of it!
No one likes to consistently blitz a great quarterback. Defenses do not like blitzing Brady and Peyton Manning for the fear that those quarterbacks will burn them. With Michael Vick defenses coordinators figure they have no choice but to blitz because if you don’t and you give him time to decide whether he wants to throw one his laser passes somewhere down the field or use his legs, the results will be devastating. That’s why the strategy to defense Vick has literally been to blitz him as much as possible, create chaos for him, and make him get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible, and hopefully get a sack or hit on him in the process.
Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 14-2 record this season, the best in the National football league. He threw for 36 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions and his last interception came all the way back on October 17th against Baltimore. He has in fact set the record for consecutive passes thrown without being intercepted; which to be fair comes with a little luck because he had a couple passes in a week 15 game against Green Bay that this writer saw with his own eyes that were primed to be intercepted only to bounce off the hands of the hapless defender.
Who knows how many other would be interceptions were dropped over this consecutive non-interception streak. Nevertheless the streak is very impressive. That streak, along with his team’s 14 wins and his 36 touchdown passes this season, are the biggest case for Tom Brady to win 2010 MVP. When the New England Patriots traded Randy Moss to Minnesota after a 41-14 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins on October 4th many believed the Patriots were pulling out a white flag and giving up on the season. No way could the Patriots compete with the vaunted division rival New York Jets who in week 2 buried the Patriots at the Meadowlands; despite a remarkable one handed touchdown grab by Moss on all-world defensive back Derelle Revis.
The Patriots lost just once more regular season game following that trade and a lot of credit has to be given to Brady, no doubt. But let’s not act as if the league’s golden boy was throwing to a collection of stiffs. The moment Moss was shipped out of town the Patriots reacquired Deion Branch who won 2004 Super Bowl MVP honors with Brady and the Patriots. Also left on the team was wide receiver Wes Welker who caught over 100 catches the previous three seasons. Brady also has the great master mind, head coach Bill Belichick, on his side. The Grim Reaper even won 11 games two seasons ago with Matt Cassel as his starting quarterback when Tom Brady missed the entire season with a knee injury.
Brady’s numbers this season speak for themselves. But do they really measure up to all the theatrics Vick has given us this season? Was Tom Brady really the NFL’s Most Valuable Player this season in every sense of the word? Has what Tom Brady done this season have more value than the lessons we can learn from the extraordinary story of redemption that Mike Vick has given us? It is the stuff of great morality play: The fallen hero emerges from one of the toughest federal prisons in the country at Fort Leavenworth Kansas, to a dramatic return to the of top the National Football League!
Was Tom Brady more valuable to his team than Vick was to his this season? Yes, Brady threw for 3900 yards and 36 touchdowns but Michael Vick threw for 3018 yards and 21 touchdowns plus he ran for another 676 yards and nine touchdowns giving him a total of 30 touchdowns on the season - six less than Brady’s total for the season. On average Brady threw for 243.8 yards per game while Vick bested that throwing for an average of 251.5 yards per game, and this from a guy who runs part of the time.
Then consider the fact that Vick missed four games this season, three to injury with busted ribs, after he practically juked out all 11 men of Washington’s defense in week 4 then paying the price at the end of the play. And he missed a game in week 17, when the team had nothing to play for, and you can see had Vick not gotten hurt Brady wouldn’t have a statistical advantage over Vick in anything except Interceptions and probably wins.
Brady has been with head coach Bill Belichick and that great Patriots system for 10 years now, a system that he obviously feels very comfortable in. In Philadelphia Vick was in his first year learning the system as a starter on the run, playing in front of a suspect offensive line while being pressured as much as any quarterback in the league. Lest we forget, he was supposed to spend this season as the back up quarterback. That’s why we say here: Michael Vick was the most outstanding and spectacular performer in the NFL this season and should be your 2010 NFL MVP!