Brees vs. Rodgers for NFL's most valuable
By Ken Fidlin, QMI Agency
|New Orleans Saints' QB Drew Brees is poised to shatter Dan Marino's long-standing single-season passing record — and may win NFL MVP honours along the way. (GETTY IMAGES)
Two or three weeks ago, there really wasn’t much debate about this year’s NFL most valuable player. In fact, only two words were relevant on the subject: Aaron Rodgers.
A whole host of quarterbacks were — and still are — having brilliant seasons, but Rodgers and his gawdy 12-0 record towered above the rest. He was ripping off an average of three TD passes to go with 320 passing yards every game, with a 71% completion rate.
All the while, Rodgers was also the conscience of the Packers’ team, never settling for anything but the very best from each of his teammates. He was, and remains, the very definition of what it takes to be an MVP.
But now he has company that simply can’t be ignored.
Over the last five or six weeks, Drew Brees has been even better than Rodgers. The Saints are on a six-game winning streak and Brees is poised to shatter Dan Marino’s 27-year-old record for passing yards in a season. Over those six games, Brees has thrown 18 TD passes, while averaging 355 yards per game with a 72.5 completion rate, leading his team like a man possessed.
Meanwhile, in the past couple of weeks, Rodgers has taken a step back, at least statistically, especially during Sunday’s first defeat of the season in Kansas City. In the past two games he has a 52% completion rate and has averaged just 258 yards. In those two games, his TD pass rate has been cut in half. That may have more to do with the absence of Greg Jennings than with Rodgers himself, but it all factors in.
Rodgers’ step backward also helps to bring Tom Brady into the conversation as well. He is also likely to break Marino’s yardage record and has been under the gun all season to win games himself, what with the Patriots owning the worst defence in the entire league this year. Even with Brady’s high-energy offence, the MVP decision comes down to Rodgers versus Brees.
If Rodgers and the Packers get back on track over the last two weeks of the season, it stands to reason that the Green Bay quarterback will earn his first MVP award, especially if the Packers finish at 15-1.
But anything less than razor sharpness by Rodgers will open the door for the red-hot Brees to step through it.
BIG MEN ON ‘D’
On the other side of the ball, there are several candidates who jump out as Defensive Player of the Year candidates, most notably, Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs.
Suggs has quietly — maybe not so quietly — assumed the mantle as The Man on the Ravens’ defence from Ray Lewis. He has 60 tackles, 13 sacks, a couple of picks and six forced fumbles on his card.
He and his teammates were suitably chastened by Sunday’s 34-14 drubbing in San Diego, where his performance included just two solo tackles.
“It’s a reality check,” said the linebacker. “When you don’t show up to play in big games, you’re going to get yopur (butt) kicked.”
Minnesota veteran Jared Allen is having a huge year for the Vikings, with 57 tackles, 17.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception. A hamstring injury may have short-circuited Patrick Willis’s bid for this award. The San Francisco linebacker has now missed three games but still has 93 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles.
Jets coach Rex Ryan went gentle on Santonio Holmes after the receiver got flagged for excessive celebration following a touchdown catch that put the Jets within three scores of the Eagles on Sunday. “He apologized for that to me,” said Ryan, “but I’ll say this about Santonio and every other player on this team: They have my 100% support and we’re in this thing together. I don’t think it will happen again, but again, I have his back, he has mine and this whole team is that way. We just have to come out and fight for each other, we know it was a mistake and we’ll learn from it.” ... The Bears aren’t saying what they’re going to do this week at quarterback against Green Bay, which is probably bad news for Caleb Hanie. He’s been a disaster filling in for injured Jay Cutler as the Bears have dropped four games in a row. ”Right now, we’re disappointed in our quarterback play,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “A lot of times, with the backup quarterback, you don’t know what you have until he has to play, and you start evaluating him and what you’re doing after that. We have been in the position this year where we have seen quite a bit of our backup quarterback, and again, the play hasn’t been what we need it to be.” .... Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh’s emotions have gotten him in plenty of trouble, including a two-game suspension for stomping a Packers’ offensive lineman. He made a point of addressing his shortcomings following Sunday’s big win over Oakland. “I made a mistake,” said Suh. “The biggest thing for me is that I’ve dealt with and am moving past it, and happy to be back on the field with my team. The biggest thing for me is just wanting to sincerely move forward from it … I’ve spoken to (Packers lineman) Evan Dietrich-Smith, and I feel we’re on very good terms. He’s a great guy.”