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Race For NFL MVP: Is It Brady or Vick?

Posted on December 23, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Tom Brady and Michael Vick are the leading MVP candidates for 2010

The battle for the 2010 NFL MVP award between Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles is the latest example of just how quickly things can change in the National Football League.

It was just two short seasons ago that the football future of both players was in significant limbo.

As you will recall, Brady missed the entire 2008 campaign after suffering a knee injury during the first half of the first game of the season. Though he was expected to return, many doubted if he could ever regain his MVP form from 2007.

Michael Vick also was out of football in 2008, but instead of spending the season rehabilitating an injury, he was spending it behind bars as a result of his conviction for participating in a dog fighting ring. At this time two years ago no one knew if Vick would ever wear an NFL uniform again and few expected him to ever again be an NFL starter, much less an MVP candidate.

But here we are in December 2010 debating which of these star quarterbacks deserves to be labeled as the MVP of the 2010 NFL season.

They have contrasting styles that makes comparisons difficult, but there is no question that both players have taken their games (and teams) to a higher level this season.

Who Should Be the NFL MVP?

  • Tom Brady (67%, 10 Votes)
  • Michael Vick (33%, 5 Votes)
  • Phillip Rivers (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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For Tom Brady, it is a level that he has played at before. In 2007, Brady was the NFL MVP while leading the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season. During that campaign, he completed 68.9% of his passes for 4,806 yards, 50 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while recording the second highest single season passer rating (117.2) in league history.

Tom Brady has led the Patriots to the best record in the AFC.

Statistically, Brady hasn’t been quite as dominant this year (66.6 completion percentage, 3,561 yards, 31 touchdowns, four interceptions, 109.9 rating through 14 games), but many believe that in some ways he has been better in 2010 than three years ago.

The biggest reason for that is the cast around him. Unlike 2007 when Brady threw 23 touchdowns to future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and the squad had established veterans running the football and catching passes, in 2010 Brady has been surrounded by a cast of journeymen and overachievers.

In 2007 the top two runners were former first round pick Laurence Maroney and eight-year veteran Sammy Morris. In 2010, the top two runners have been a pair of former undrafted free agents who entered 2010 with 453 combined NFL rushing yards. BenJarvis Green-Ellis is in his third season with the Patriots after playing collegiately at Mississippi. Danny Woodhead is the pride of Chadron State and joined the Patriots earlier this season after being waived by the New York Jets.

Brady’s receivers don’t have significantly greater pedigrees.

In both 2007 and 2010 the team leader in receptions has been Wes Welker. Another former undrafted free agent, Welker has thrived in the Patriots’ short passing attack. In 2007 he caught an NFL-best 112 passes and last year topped the league with a career-high 123 catches.

However, Welker suffered a devastating knee injury late in the 2009 season and it is amazing that he has even been on the field all season, much less leading the team and ranking among the league leaders with 83 receptions and 829 yards receiving.

None of the other three leading receivers for the Patriots were with the team in 2009 and two weren’t even in the NFL. Deion Branch, who was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX for the Patriots, rejoined the squad in week five after spending the last four seasons with Seattle. Though he never reached greatness with the Seahawks, he has been a key contributor in 10 games for New England with 46 catches for 681 yards and five touchdowns.

That total is only slightly greater than the numbers registered by a pair of rookie tight ends. Aaron Hernandez, a fourth round pick, has 45 receptions while second round selection Rob Grankowski has caught 32 passes and matched Welker’s team-high total of seven touchdown receptions.

The surrounding cast for Michael Vick has a little more impressive pedigree, but that Vick has gotten to this point is an amazing story of its own.

Michael Vick has used both his arm and legs to lead the Eagles in 2010.

After sitting out the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Vick was signed by the Eagles in August 2009 and spent the season backing up Donovan McNabb and seeing occasional action in the Wildcat formation. He threw 13 passes and had 95 rushing yards in 12 games.

When the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb and anointed Kevin Kolb as the quarterback of the future during the offseason, it looked like Vick was the odd-man-out and would bide his time as the backup.

However, when Kolb was injured during the opening game of the season, Vick took full advantage of his opportunity by nearly leading the Eagles back against the Green Bay Packers. He then had solid performances in the next two games before suffering an injury in week four against the Redskins.

Surprisingly, Vick was reinserted as the starting quarterback once he regained health and the rest has been history. He has led the Eagles to a 10-4 record and the quarterback many thought could never be a high percentage passer has completed at least 60% of his passes in each of his last six starts.

For the season, Vick has 20 touchdown passes while tossing five interceptions. The only quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, Vick has shown that his legs can still be a dangerous weapon as he has gained 613 yards on the ground and averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Vick’s value to the Eagles was illustrated last week against the New York Giants when he engineered a comeback for the ages. Down by 21 points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Vick led the Eagles on three touchdown drives to tie the score with slightly more than a minute remaining. Philadelphia then won the game on a 65-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson.

Jackson has been a key member of the receiving corps for Vick this season. A second round pick of the Eagles in 2008, Jackson has developed into one of the premier deep threats in the league and this season has caught 45 passes for 1,024 yards and six touchdowns.

Combining with Jackson to give the Eagles a dynamic pair of wideouts is second year pro and former first round pick Jeremy Maclin. He is posting a strong sophomore season with 64 catches, 890 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

Another key component for the Eagles is second year running back LeSean McCoy. A second round pick in 2009 from Pittsburgh, McCoy has rushed for 1,036 yards this season and is the team leader with 74 receptions.

There are certainly formidable arguments for both Brady and Vick as the MVP.

Expected by many to be headed for a down year, the Patriots have the best record in the NFL and Brady has been a major reason for the success. He has gone nine games without throwing an interception and is zeroing in on the NFL record for consecutive passes without a pick.

In a career that has included four Super Bowl appearances and five Pro Bowl trips, many believe the 33-year-old Brady is at the peak of his game.

But, while the success of Brady and the Patriots in 2010 is a little surprising, it isn’t anywhere near as shocking as the rise of Vick and the Eagles.

When Philadelphia traded McNabb and completed the expulsion of most of the veterans who had been core members of the team over the previous decade most expected this to be a down year for the Eagles.

That they will likely win the NFC East and are a definite Super Bowl contender is one of the biggest surprises of 2010. That Michael Vick is the conductor of this train is an even great surprise.

Regardless of which player is ultimately awarded league MVP honors, there is little doubt that Brady and Vick have been the best player in an exciting NFL season.


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