Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Feb 2012

Aaron Rodgers Wins MVP

MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees
Defensive Player of the Year: Terrell Suggs
Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh
Comeback Player of the Year: Matthew Stafford
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller

I imagine most of these aren't too controversial. I would've liked to see the writers award the DPoY to Justin Smith over Suggs, but traditional stats (sacks) still run strong and Suggs is in no way a bad choice.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 06 Feb 2012

45 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2012, 6:11pm by tuluse


by BJR :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:35am

And Suggs didn't even make it onto the ballot for DPOTY in the FO awards!

Anyway, he's a great run defender as well as a great pass rusher. Just a tremendous all round force. Well deserved.

How many times has the MVP not also been the OPOTY? Seems like a fudge to me.

by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:52pm

OPOTY and MVP have differed 17 times in the 40 years of the OPOTY award. Most recent before this were 2008 and 2009 when Peyton won MVP both years. OPOTY was Drew Brees in 2008 and Chris Johnson in 2009.

Granted, 3 of those 40 years the MVP was not an offensive player, so I guess those can't count. So 14 out of 37 when you exclude those.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:34am

Yeah, the MVP vs OPOTY thing is a farce. I guess Rodgers was better than Brees on defense and special teams.

by prophetik (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:10am

nah, MVP isn't necessarily the best player in football - it's the player that was most valuable to their team's success. brees was the best offensive player in football, but he wasn't as valuable to the team as a whole as rodgers was.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:25pm

"value" is a pretty nebulous (and usually distractionary) term. People seem to define value so they can vote for whomever they want and then alter the definition to fit their pick. The difference in the two awards seems to be more about either: (1) rewarding a non-QB for a great year (since QBs tend to win MVP and a non-QB may have a huge season, as in the case of Chris Johnson winning); or (2) allowing a player on a weaker team to get some recognition (kind of how Jared Allen got dinged in the DPOY voting for playing on weak team). Sometimes, even the top QBs (like Brees in this case) can put up ridiculous numbers without winning MVP. So it's an out to reward them too

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 10:58pm

A little history here, albeit baseball history. We got stuck with MVP as a concept for a very specific reason. A car company, as a promotion, promised to award a car in 1915 to the baseball player with the highest batting average. It turned out to be Ty Cobb. In 1916, when it was apparent that Cobb would once again win the batting title, the car company, who (understandably) hated Ty Cobb, invented the concept of MVP so they could give it to someone else. And we've been stuck with it ever since.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:26pm

ah yes, the old "better, but not more valuable" argument. I'm sure it's made sincerely, but I've never quite understood what it's supposed to mean.

Wouldn't a better player also be more valuable?

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:54pm

In the case of two QBs.

But in the case of say a running back or receiver vs a QB, the non-QB could have had a better year compared to his peers but provided less value than a great QB.

by bingo762 :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:44pm

By those criteria, shouldn't Peyton Manning have won MVP then?

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:49pm

The Colts had no success and Peyton didn't play for them.

If you think he should have retroactively won like 5 MVPs, that would another story.

by thebuch :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:51pm

Just because he had been good does not mean his team would continue to win, Brett Favre once led the Packers to a 4-12 record.. If the rest of the team isn't there one man can't win a game. If the Colts were 2-14 I don't think Manning makes them a playoff team. that's a bit of a stretch.

by Theo :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:18am

It's just a way to give an award to 2 offensive players.

by apbadogs :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 10:37am

We are in the age of everyone gets a participation trophy...why should professional sports be any different? Look at all the awards college football hands out!

by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 8:08pm

Ah yes, the old "Society is falling apart because everyone gets a trophy" lament. (Which doesn't match up with what I've witnessed, since the whole "trophy for all" thing ends at around age 7 before giving way to the far more common "play for blood" experience of a million AAU and LLWS games, but I digress...)

"College Football" doesn't hand out awards. Individual groups and foundations choose to honor specific individuals for outstanding performances in key areas of the game. Key word: individuals. Of 100+ Division 1 teams with a 100+ members each, they hand out a few awards each year for the very best. Not exactly "everyone" getting a trophy.

Similarly, I don't see how it diminishes anything to point out that Brees and Rodgers had two of the most impressive seasons of all time.

by Dean :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:04am

"Ah yes, the old "Society is falling apart because everyone gets a trophy" lament."

You say this as if it's somehow not a legitimate gripe.

by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 12:02pm

It's "legitmate" in the same way that all "kids today" gripes are legtimate. Ever since there has been a younger generation there have been older generations groaning and bitching about how this new crop of whippersnappers is soft and spoiled and disrespectful and how they could never hold a candle to us, the last "real generation" which had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to play football in bare feet on a filed made of boiling lava and "dammit we were happy to have hot lava to play on!". And then the younger generation becomes the older generation, rinse and repeat...

And then there's the fact that the evidence is spotty at best. I've participated in, observed, reffed and coached youth sports all my life, and I can tell you that, at least in my experience, everyone does NOT get a trophy. Winning was and is priority number 1 from a very young age, and that was in the smaller, less ruthless leagues that I was a member of. If you really wanted cutthroat you could go down the street to the bigger league where they are happy to cut 8 year olds who they felt were a drag on their teams (an experience I'm grateful never to have gone through. I can only imagine what that must do to a kid).

And then there's AAU, and club soccer, and tournament teams, and baseball showcases, and LLWS games on ESPN, and live tracking of high school recruiting wars, and parents beating each other up on the sidelines.... I mean, does anyone really think we live in an uncompetitive sports culture?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:07pm

I think the gripe transcends sports.

by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 4:21pm

Of course it does. Just as it always has: "Kids today are so stupid/vain/spoiled/disrespectful/lazy/impious/sensitive etc, I weep for the future...". There's examples of this gripe as old as the written word.

I happen to really be irked by the sport specific version of this lament because its just not true.

by Theo :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 6:33pm

I'd rather not.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 9:09am

It was on offense, but Rodgers tackled Briggs and Urlacher! :) Well, kind of.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:52am

I think the writers wanted to recognize the fact that Brees had such an amazing year even though Rodgers was the MVP. Brees didn't really pick it up until about half way through the season.

I seem to remember this happening either the year before or the year before that. In regards to a different MVP and OPOTY.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:07am

"I think the writers wanted to recognize the fact that Brees had such an amazing year even though Rodgers was the MVP."

It's "everybody gets a trophy day"!! Seriously, writers, make a goddamn choice and stick to it.

by jebmak :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:16am

Doesn't this happen every year? I just view OPOTY as 2nd place (even though the title makes no sense).

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:52pm

I think Shaun Alexander, in one of the greatest travesties in NFL voting, won both.

by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:57pm

MVP/OPOTY is actually more common than not. Since Shaun Alexander, LdT won both in 2006, and Tom Brady won both in 2007 and 2010...
That said, 2 players won MVP on defense, both also won DPOTY (Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor [can you find many pairs of players whose post-football careers took more divergent paths?])

by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:37pm

Really, a "travesty?"

In the DVOA era (1993 on), *three* RBs have put up a YAR over 500: Marshall Faulk in 2000, Priest Holmes in 2002, and Shaun Alexander in 2005. Yes, if you defense-adjust it falls behind a few more contemporaries (including slightly behind Larry Johnson in the same year), but it's still one of the best RB seasons in recent memory. Did his value plummet immediately? Yes, but let's not use that to cloud the season he put together that year.

Oh, and he was the best player (non-OL) on the best offense in the league. Sounds like an MVP and OPOY to me.

Yes, it would have been well-deserved if the writers had given the MVP to the Seahawks OL as a unit, but that's fantasy-land stuff. Absent that, you're claiming it's a "travesty" that Peyton Manning didn't add yet another to his record-breaking MVP totals.

by tuluse :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 4:45pm

I think Steve Smith should have been MVP or at the very least OPOY.

He was more important to his team than Alexander was to his as far as I can tell.

by Tim R :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:37am

My issue with the Alexander MVP was that it was pretty clear to everyone that Walter Jones was both a better player and more valuable to the Seahawks and should have been both MVP and OPOY. I guess my gripe is more about the fact that offensive lineman get consistently ignored in these things than speciffically being about Alexander.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:33pm

Yeah, I like this. I mean out of 2000 players there are 6 awards and 2 are for rookies only.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:50pm

I always figured that MVP was to recognize the best player, and offensive player of the year was to recognize the player with the best statistics.

by Ben Stuplisberger :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:43pm

Once the Rodgers as MVP storyline was established midway through the season, it has been difficult to change the story.

I would have switched the awards and given Brees the MVP and Rodgers the OPOTY. I am not sure if Matt Flynn could have substituted for Brees as effectively as he did for Rodgers, which would make Brees more "valuable," whereas Rodgers' incredible overall efficiency is probably a greater offensive accomplishment than Brees' ridiculous completion rates and yardage totals.

That being said, Flynn's performance introduced some serious cognitive dissonance into assessments of Rodgers' performance.

by thebuch :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:47pm

The baseline in value can't be your specific, somewhat arbitrary backup defined by luck that has nothing to do with the skill of either player being evaluated, but the value over a generic baseline player. That destroys your argument.

by Ben Stuplisberger :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 12:59am

I take valuable as literal. If Green Bay has an excellent backup, then Rodgers is not as valuable to Green Bay as Brees is to the Saints. It's the Most Valuable Player award, not the Highest Over Average award. I think I understand what you mean though. I didn't make my criteria clear in the first post. 480 yards and 6 touchdowns seems to be a bit beyond luck. Perhaps I don't understand your reasoning though.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:43pm

It's a fudge. I don't think the Saints or the Packers would even be playoff teams without their quarterbacks, although arguably the Packers would be closer. I think the MVP this year could quite reasonably have gone to any of Manning/Brady/Brees/Stafford/Rodgers. It would be silly to give it to a nonQuarterback nowadays.

I think Brees makes the most sense, just because the Saints depend on him so exclusively, and Flynn's Week 17 makes it clear the Packers could live without Rodgers. Maybe OPOY should have gone to Rodgers, whose season was more impressive than Brees (Let's be honest, Joey Harrington could roll up a lot of yards throwing screens in NO, but Brees was more valuable in the sense that he also did other things).

by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:39pm

What were the other things that Brees did...kick FGs (did you see the Pro Bowl) or sack opposing QB's? Was his interception rate better or worse than Rodgers'? Brees as OPOY makes sense because he broke yardage records which are offensive marks that are special, but the completion rate and interception rate (or lack thereof) for Rodgers made him more valuable overall.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:37pm

I don't get what Flynn's performance has to do with it. To downgrade AR's performance because the Packers had a good backup is stupid. Nobody said Tom Brady was overrated because Cassel had a pretty good season as Brady's replacement. Even if Chase Daniel played some, all we would then know is how the backup QBs compare.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:54pm

1. I have said Tom Brady is and was overrated because Matt Cassel had a very good season playing with the same offensive line and offensive skill players. I said this in the context of the irrational Brady-Manning debate, and repeated the point in the context of Indy going 2-14, rather than 11-5, in their star quarterback's absence. The point is not that Matt Flynn is good. He may be. The point is that James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and the offensive line are good. And they are. In this particular debate, it probably doesn't cut that hard, because New Orleans has an even better offensive line and just as good offensive skill players.

2. I'll admit to thinking out loud: What I really wanted to say was that giving a QB an MVP award based on statistical production is just punting and giving the award based on an offense. The only way you can compare these things is if the same players play with a different QB, as in, does the team NEED that guy? Or are they just awesome, and would be pretty awesome with Joey Harrington? (I think the Saints, in particular, probably would be awesome with Joey Harrington).

3. I mean, does anyone doubt that this year proved beyond a shadow the value of Peyton Manning to the Indianapolis Colts, precisely because they didn't have him?

4. In retrospect, I'd like to nominate the following:

Darren Sproles.
Calvin Johnson.
Cam Newton.
Jay Cutler.

All of whom were very clearly of great value to their squads, even if they didn't put up gaudy numbers (although Johnson did).

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 1:56pm

Yeah, it's hard not to look at this past season and say that Jay Cutler is more valuable to the Bears than Aaron Rodgers is to the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback, but without him, their backup comes in and throws 6 TDs in a game that the Packers didn't even need. The Bears were cruising at 7-3, then lost Cutler and went 1-5 in a stretch where arguably, they only played one good team (yes, they had other injury problems, but I think they could have bounced back from those - especially Forte - and still made a playoff run if Cutler had been healthy).

Of course, to be fair, the Packers have a very good backup QB and the Bears had possibly the worst one in the league.

by some guy (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 5:22pm

Also the minor, unimportant point that six games is six times as many games as one game. That one game was very, very good but this thread is getting a little ridiculous with people projecting that *one game* out, or even comparing that game to nonexistant hypothetical games that haven't actually been played by NO's backups.

One. Game.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:16pm

Why was there no mention of Matt Birk winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award? That's a very prestigious award. Is it because the award isn't solely based on performance on the field, making it difficult for fans to discuss and analyze?

by joesegh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:39pm

We've just been jaded since Ray Lewis stabbed that guy.

by Dean :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:05am

Here we go again. For the hundredth, and I'm sure not the last, time - Ray Lewis did not stab anyone.

by TomC :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 12:21am

I'm pretty sure he stabbed the guy and got a trophy for it.

by some guy (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 5:28pm

He was acquitted of stabbing anyone, you mean. And OJ can similarly be said not to have killed anyone - that doesn't mean people accept that as truth. If you're suggesting that nobody express any opinion that differs from a decided verdict, you're probably best avoiding anywhere that folks discuss this stuff in a casual manner. You'll want to be spending the rest of your life inside a courtroom, in other words.

by tuluse :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 6:11pm

He wasn't acquitted, he plea bargained to a another crime.