Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Feb 2013

Adrian Peterson Chosen 2012 MVP

It looks like voters split the baby by giving Peyton Manning the Comeback Player of the Year award while handing the MVP to Adrian Peterson. Other winners included Bruce Arians as Coach of the Year, J.J. Watt as almost-unanimous Defensive Player of the Year (49 of 50 votes, the other going to Von Miller), and Robert Griffin and Luke Kuechly as Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Of course, these awards aren't really as important as the FO Reader Awards, which we'll announce in a week or so.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Feb 2013

48 comments, Last at 09 Feb 2013, 2:51pm by Mr Shush


by Vagueradian (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2013 - 11:06pm


by Will Allen :: Sat, 02/02/2013 - 11:28pm

As much as I've bitched and moaned about we Vikings fans having a long history of suffering heartbreaking defeats, lo these many decades, we really have been blessed to watch a large number of great, great, HOF-worthy players, in every decade of the franchise's existence, and 28 is the latest one. Congratulations to a worthy winner.

by Anonymous- (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:11am

0 votes for JJ Watt. Not a sliver of hope for any defensive player in the future.

by CoachDave :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:26am

All good selections...can't really argue with any of them.

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:29am

As silly as this sounds, I really think Ap needed that mvp to cement his status as a first ballot hall of famer and possible contender to being the greatest RB of all time. Hes easily the best pure runner I've seen since i started watching football in 1999.

by Mr. Punch (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:00am

Yep, that actually sounds pretty silly, but then I've been watching football since the mid 1970s, so I have a bit more to compare it to. He's really good, no question, and I have no problem with him as MVP. But 'best pure runner'? Watch some Bo Jackson highlights, amongst many others. 'Greatest of all time' I'll just ignore all together.

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 3:28am

Which part sounds silly? I never said I believed Peterson needed the mvp to cement his status as a great rb, I just think for most fans and media people, the mvp is vital because it now lifts the general narrative of his career. Assuming he finishes his career without a ring, the mvp will make it so that he wasn't just considered a stat compiling rb the way so many others are.

As for best pure runner, I did say I started in 99. I can watch highlights, but again, you have to have watched the game back then and had a good enough understanding of the teams strengths and limitations to really get the right perspective.

And finally, nothing AP does from now on(save for another 2 2k seasons) will make the unequivocal best rb of all time. Its too hard, i accept that. I think everyone can agree he'll go down as in the conversation.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 7:51am

I don't. Not good enough in the passing game. I suppose there are things he could do that would put him in the conversation for best pure runner of all time, but in terms of value to a team give me prime Marshall Faulk any day. Or even someone like Tomlinson, who was merely a pretty good receiver. That's without even touching on older backs - Payton, say.

by Jimmy :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 9:45am

Peterson was much improved in the passing game this year. Prior years, yes he has had issues with protection and pass catching though.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 8:21pm

Bo Jackson? Good God. If Bo had just played football - and if he didn't get hyped in TV commercials - he'd be considered just another very good back now. The one thing he did was pop off some individual long runs. Dude couldn't shine Barry Sanders' shoes.

by komakoma (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:55am

I'd be fine with replacing MVP with a "Most Outstanding Player" or something, in which case I would go with AP or Watt, but in its current incarnation an RB winning (or anyone other than Manning, Brady or Rodgers, really) is just ridiculous.

by Zerilan (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:05am

Yeah but I'd rather give it to AP and let MVP be a bit of a misnomer than just let the most prestigious individual award be just "best QB" under a different name when they can still win OPOTY anyway.

JJ Watt getting 0 votes bugs me a lot more than a non-QB winning.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:20am

I don't really get what the distinction is supposed to be between "Outstanding" and "Valuable."

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:56am

"Outstanding" = How much better you were than your peers at your position.
"Valuable" = How much agrgegate value to you produce.

Once could easily say that Peterson provided say 90% more "points" per game than the average RB, and Manning only provided 50% more "points" per game than an average QB. but if QBs generally are worth twice as many points Manning would still have more value over an average starter simply from being involved in more high leverage plays (as a QB).

I think the main question is "do you want someone other than a QB to ever win?"

If you do, then the award cannot be for the player who is "the most important", because QBs are so much more important that it always swamps everything else.

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:15am

About Peterson's year, what he didn't have that almost all RBs that won MVP had were TDs. Faulk had 28. Alexander had 29. Tomlinson had 31. Peterson had 13. Peterson provided little receiving value (unlike Faulk and LT). All Peterson really had going for him was the yardage amount.

You could make the case that Percy Harvin was as integral to the Vikings season as Peterson, because it was Harvin that was a lot of people's fringe MVP candidate when this team started 5-2, which was a surprise to everyone. Peterson hadn't really started to get it going by then.

I'm not surprised Peterson won it, but I don't think his year was as good as LT in '06 or Faulk in '00. (Alexander in '05 is a different story alltogether).

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 3:38am

I disagree. I think Ap's season this year was more impressive than LTs. Tds to me are a poor way to measure any position other than possibly receiver. Tds can come off 1 yard plunges or 1 yard throws, no matter who did all the work to get there.

Between Ap and LT, Lt was on a much better team overall, especially on offense. We can debate about whos o line was better, but Lt had rivers, a good defense, and a pretty talented overall team.

Between Ap and Faulk, you could probably make the same argument above, but the trouble was Faulk had another dimensional altogether that you would have to factor in. It gets complicated because Faulk in a worse offense probably doesn't get his receiving skills maximized. Ap on the rams would probably be a downgrade. Overall, I guess I'd say Faulk was the more valuable rb, but even then, its probably pretty close.

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:03am

LT was on a better team overall, but that better team with him playing great was the best team in the NFL (14-2). AP shouldn't get extra credit just because his teammates were worse.

It's not just overrating TDs (although I can almost bet LT didn't have 18 TDs of 1 or 2 yards in that season), but LT also had more receiving value.

by canofcorn66 :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 4:50pm

LDT had 15 TDs of 5 or fewer yards in 2006, and 9 of 10 or more yards. By comparison, Adrian had 7 of 5 or fewer and 5 of 10 or more. Those are actually pretty similar ratios to their total TDs (LDT: 31, AD: 13). I'm sure you could answer the question a bit more clearly by taking a look at charting info and seeing, say, how many times each team got inside the 30. I would wager the Chargers were there a lot more, but who knows.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:53pm

Sanders only had 14 total TDs in 1997, when he split the AP MVP with Stubbleface. (Fuzzface? It was 1997...)

That was also the year the AP changed their rules, after a voter announced that had the voting been after week 17 instead of before, he would have switched his Favre vote to Sanders, giving Barry the sole MVP instead of a split.

by andrew :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:33am

to me most valuable is how much better were they with him?

Denver had Tebow last year and won the division and a playoff game. This year they won the division and a playoff game, albeit with five more wins and a bye. Now, well all darn well know they were a LOT better than last year's model. But that may have influenced voting. I don't think Denver sniffs the playoffs if they had brought Tebow back instead of acquiring Manning... but that defense is pretty good, and they did seem well stocked at the other skill positions. 8-8 would seem reasonable with Tebow to me. Maybe 10-6 tops with some replacement level QB.

The Vikings with Peterson most of the year last year were 3-13. They won seven more games and made the playoffs. He was obviously a lot better this year even if it took him about a quarter of the season to really find his groove. Most people I think attribute the Vikings seven win improvement to Peterson, not the lack of McNabb or the development of Ponder. Although I do feel the defense was better than last year. Even so... without Peterson... I think this team is likely a 3-13 team. The ceiling I'd have for them would be 6-10.

One last note... I saw a lot of writers opining on the race when Peterson started really pouring it on (the 200+ yd games). A lot of them were still in Peyton's camp at that time I felt... so they wrote yeah Peterson is great but you can't really vote him MVP if he doesn't make the playoffs. At the time I don't think any of them felt the Vikings at 6-6 had any prayer of making the playoffs. So they could claim they weren't dismissing him while expecting it to end up Manning. Especially with the Bears, Texans and Packers on the schedule. Then they somehow went and won all four...

I feel he won the MVP on week 17 with that 199 yard effort, and specifically that last 26 yard run where he got them in field goal range and came up just short of the record.

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 3:33am

MVP to me means who had the best season per their position. Given that, it was down to watt and AP. In a vacuum, I'd probably say Watt because what he did was truly unprecedented. The amount of sacks he compiled given his position, plus the batted balls. That said, Ap was coming off knee surgery so his overall season given that context probably made him the mvp(in terms of having the most outstanding season).

When it comes to value, AP didn't "carry" his team. They went 3-13 last year with him for all but 1 game last year. Yes he had a season for the ages, but it sure helped that their defense(which last year gave up 300 yards to Tim freaken Tebow) played significantly better. I don't care if Ap ran for 3k yards, if the pass defense played like last years, they would be 5-11 or worse. In fact, the vikes won plenty of games when Ap didn't go off.

As to who is the true "mvp," that one is hard. To say Denver was a playoff team last year is totally misleading. They were a bad bad football team last year for a reason. And you can't just look now after the fact and say their skill position players are good. Maybe DT is, but what do we really know about decker or the 100 year old stokley?

That said, given the state of his o line and injured receiving core, I'd probably give it to Rodgers. But its a close call between he, Peyton, and Brady.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:57pm

"I don't think Denver sniffs the playoffs if they had brought Tebow back instead of acquiring Manning"

Remember that in order to win the AFC West they only had to finish ahead of a 7-9 SD team, a 6-10 OAK team, and a 2-14 KC tem (and these were all poor teams even by the standards of their records, as the got to beat each other up, and play the relatively weak NFC South; heck, the Browns were 3-0 against these non-Denver AFC West teams. :) )

They wouldn't have gone 13-3 but I bet they still win the division for a playoff spot.

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:10pm

The Broncos went 6-0 in division. If they drop some of those games with Tebow, those other teams get a game better as well. The key here is SD. They might have still made the playoffs at 8-8 or so, but that's really the point. They became the regular season's best team in the AFC with Manning.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 3:49pm

And I wasn't disputing that point; Manning turns an 8-8 or maybe 9-7 team into 13-3. I was disputing the "not sniffing the playoffs" comment.

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 5:48pm

I was disputing your contention that they would have still won that division, and the general line of thinking by a lot of people that "Hey, Manning's new team won a playoff game last year, how much did they really improve?"

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 5:58pm

And we may have to agree to disagree on the first; obviously, we can't know for sure how this season would've gone if we subtracted Manning, added Tebow and the original DEN 7th rounder, and subtracted the NYJ 4th and 6th rounders, but I still say they probably go 5-1 or 6-0 in AFCW theater, and do well enough in their other games that even if that DEN loss improves SD's record to 8-8, DEN at least wins a tiebreaker.

I completely agree with the second point; even if each year's result was one playoff win, the difference is night and day. In my case, assuming the additions and subtractions above, this past year is the same or worse result than the one before; a very weak 4th seed and either 0 or 1 playoff wins.

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 7:07pm

They probably would have been competitive, but (and you're obviously not one of the people who thinks this way) to say that an 8-8 playoff team is anything like a 13-3 is so unfair to Peyton.

In a way, I'm of the thinking that Peyton Manning probably wasn't the best candidate in 2009. I thought Rivers, Brees & Favre were all better candidates that year. So I guess you win some, you lose some. He has one that he probably didn't deserve and, in my eyes, didn't get one when he deserved it.

by JIPanick :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 7:15pm

This is not the only one he deserved and missed. In 2005 they gave it Shaun Alexander. Shaun Alexander.

I'm annoyed they gave to AP, but at least this year's vote picked the best running back...

2006 was pretty bad too.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 2:51pm

Alexander was a terrible choice, but I think Jones, Steve Smith and Brady all had strong cases - arguably better than Peyton's.

by ptp (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:01am

There really is none, people have just latched onto a very arbitrary definition of value, clamped on a bunch of context out of sheer habit and tradition, and now everyone thinks 'Value' somehow means 'Most value to a team relative to anyone else on that team subject to that team's overall total value in a completely undefined space along often subjective or logically-fungible axes'. It's really, really, REALLY dumb. Probably the single dumbest thing about sports - worse than Joe Morgan's entire corpus.

by Purds :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:56am

Silly to split MVP and Comeback. Give them both to AP. If he's MVP, then he's got to be the best comeback story when you're out with an ACL injury. (And, I am a huge PM fan.)

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:11am

Peterson played in 2011. Nanning djf not.

Am aware Peterson get injured vs tedskins Christmas eve and horrible injury it eas but c'mon man at end of day Peterson coming back from missing week 17. Manning came back from missing weeks 1-17.

by Mr. Punch (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:03am

Yep. He didn't actually miss week 17, did he? I think he got hurt playing in the last game of the season.

by andrew :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:23am

But by that argument, Peterson had to recover faster, while Manning had an extra year to recover. Part of what made his comeback amazing was that it was in so short a timetable, when conventional wisdom said even if a player returns next season after an ACL they aren't close to being the same player until a year after (if they ever regain form).

by dmstorm22 :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:07am

Isn't it time to go away from that line of conventional thinking about a player not being back from an ACL until year 2?

Jamaal Charles had three more months to recover, but recovered fine. Wes Welker tore his ACL in a Week 17 game and was about as good. We've seen QBs do it, corners do it. What Peterson did was incredible because he got so much better.

That said, so did Manning. He was better in 2012 than his last full season, and it is also a bit misleading to say he had an extra year to recover when his last surgery was in September of 2011. And no one really knew what his timetable was because no one had ever really gone through what he had.

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:24am

Ah but was Manning much better this year vs 2010? That 2010 season he was on one of the worst playoff teams Imo. Their receiving core was banged up, the o line was atrocious, no run game whatsoever, a very poor defense. The only thing that team had was Manning to carry them imo. Manning, wayne, and two aging pass rushers.

by theslothook :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:25am

That 2010 season will always be a good measuring stick for me. It really elevated Manning even further than I thought. That was one of the few seasons I thought a single player could physically drag a team into the postseason no matter how bad they were. Now granted, the division was weak, but even then, it was incredibly impressive.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 7:56am

Yeah. The supporting cast in Denver is actively pretty good. The 2010 Colts offense was Manning, an ageing but still very good Wayne, and other than that a gigantic pile of suck.

by Purds :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:25pm

Oops. You're right. So much talk about AP's injury that I forgot that he didn't miss last year -- so I guess PM is the only one of the two who came back. I stand corrected.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:15am

The Miguel Cabrera of football?

I can get behind Peterson more than Cabrera.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:27am

Regardless of whether you're a traditionalist or a sabremetrician, Miguel Cabrera properly owns one MVP. The only argument is about in which year he deserved it.

Because all the arguments for Trout in 2012 were true for Cabrera in 2010, and all of the arguments for Hamilton in 2010 were true for Cabrera in 2012.

by DD (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 3:35am

I don't see how that is. Hamilton lead the AL in pretty much every iteration of WAR in 2010 just like Trout did this year. The advanced stats clearly favored him as the MVP.

by Thok :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 1:33pm

The fundamental argument for Trout 2012 was that his all around play made up the edge in Cabrera 2012's batting. Cabrera 2010 doesn't have anything but his hitting to support his candidacy. (From that point of view Robinson Cano is the 2010 equivalent of Trout 2012, except Cano 2010 didn't hit as well as Trout 2012.)

by Ranccor :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 11:53am

This is the headline from the Washington Post article about RotY.

"Robert Griffin III is NFL rookie of the year, says his knee rehab is ahead of schedule"

Pretty much sums up what his career is most likely going to be like. Get ready for a few spectacular seasons of RGIII cut short by injury.

by Never Surrender :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:12pm

His Knee Rehab Is Ahead of Schedule sure can pick 'em. Turns out RGIII did win that award.

by andrew :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 2:18pm

all else aside.... who didn't vote Watt as DPOtY? ... hmmm turns out it was was confirmed that the non-watt voter was Ashley Fox, an ESPN writer from Philadelphia.

This column might give some insight into her reasoning, to read it you'd think Watt would be third behind Miller and Aldon Smith, she describes it as a neck and neck race between the two of them and only mentions Watt in passing, as one of four people in the race along with Gino Atkins.

by JIPanick :: Sun, 02/03/2013 - 4:59pm

"Of course, these awards aren't really as important as the FO Reader Awards, which we'll announce in a week or so."

Darn straight. Peterson didn't even belong in the conversation for the AP awards, let alone winning it. I'll be very surprised if he finishes any higher than third in the FO voting.

Although, the FO voters somehow made the inane selection of Tomlinson over Manning in '06. I suppose it could happen again.

Anyway, at this point, I think it's best we just stop recognizing the Associated Press awards.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 8:32pm

I'd like to see some organization create a new award. MVP is just goofy on so many levels, that it can't be redeemed. There should be a 'Best Year' award that make all positions eligible by definition. If you have the best year any safety every had, and no other position player could say the same thing, then the safety wins. Greatness should not be defined away because of position, or because of the team you play on. If the player who has the greatest personal achievement is on the worst team, so be it - give him the award. It is, after all, an individual award.