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Brady's MVP and Vick's not that close
I am one of the 50 voters for all of the NFL postseason awards and first-team All-Pro. It's an assignment I take very seriously.
Welcome to the 2010 dilemma for voters — the curious case of Michael Vick.
The MVP chase has excellent candidates, but has frankly turned into a one-man show with Tom Brady's excellence. And the runner-up right now is not Michael Vick. The chatter about Vick as a front runner has me laughing. You cannot even remotely compare Tom Brady's weapons at receiver and running back to what Vick has at his disposal. Brady vs. Vick sounds great but it isn't a race, regardless of what happens with the Eagles the rest of the season.
But I do have a great appreciation for Vick's majestic season. So where does he fit into the awards puzzle, if at all? I have the answer.
When it comes to coach of the year, I'm not even close to deciding on a candidate. The list is long and strong.
We put it all in focus, SCHEIN 9 style.
1. The "high 5" for league MVP
Tom Brady: He has thrown 34 touchdowns against four picks. Let that sink in for a little bit. And the Patriots traded Randy Moss and don't have a top-flight running back on the roster. Brady, already an all-time great, is having a sensational season with his pinpoint accuracy. Tom Brady hasn't thrown an interception since Week 6! Brady's put together a whopping eight straight games where he's thrown two or more touchdowns and zero picks. Oh by the way, he is also carrying the team with the best record in pro football.
Matt Cassel: The award is called Most Valuable Player. Cassel defines the word "valuable" for the worst-to-first Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel has tossed 27 touchdowns against five picks. It's the most unpredictable stat line all year. In the one game he didn't play this year, Kansas City didn't score a single point against San Diego.
Michael Vick: His moments, his domination, with both his rocket arm and legs, have been magical. The highlights range from the "man against boys" performance on a Monday night in Washington to the comeback against the Giants. Vick did miss time with injury and was the No. 2 quarterback behind Kevin Kolb to start the season.
Philip Rivers: It's not his fault the coach can't motivate or the general manager can't get his key players signed on time. It's not his fault there were a ton of injuries. It's not his fault the special-teams play was spotty. Rivers' 30 touchdowns and 4,397 yards speak volumes about his domination.
Matt Ryan: "Matty Ice" has been the king of the comeback and excellent fourth-quarter play for the single-best team in the NFC.
2. Comeback player
I've argued with Associated Press head honcho Barry Wilner for years that comeback player is too ambiguous an award. But he wants it that way to make the voters think and I appreciate that. Do you vote for someone coming back from injury (Brian Urlacher), the bench (Michael Vick), ineffective play (Matt Cassel) or seemingly the dead (Brandon Lloyd)? In the past, I've focused on injury. But Cassel's resurgence is too great to ignore. He's my guy.
3. Offensive player
I think it is important to try to tell a story of a season with your votes if you can. I ask myself, how will we remember 2010? Love him or loathe him, Vick and his lights-out play is part of the story.
I don't see a clear-cut top receiver in the league this year. A running back isn't putting up 2,000 yards. We don't have a quarterback chucking 40 or more touchdowns.
I am voting for Vick for offensive player of the year.
His play at quarterback has been precise with 20 touchdowns against five picks. And Vick has completed 63 percent of his passes, excellent for him compared to his Atlanta days. Vick has also rushed for more than 600 yards and eight touchdowns. That has to count for something. And his play against the Giants, accounting for over 200 yards in the final eight minutes on the road in one of the most epic and defining comebacks in recent memory, should be honored.
4. Offensive rookie
Mike Williams has had an excellent year for the Bucs at receiver. Maurkice Pouncey has been a rock at center for the Steelers during his neophyte campaign. But what Sam Bradford has done during his rookie year at the ultra-important QB position, with a bunch of no-names at receiver and young tackles up front, has been amazing. Bradford's thrown for more than 3,000 yards with more touchdowns than picks. He's had the poise of a veteran and is the key reason the Rams have a chance to make the playoffs.
5. Defensive rookie
I think defensive back Devin McCourty has been great for the Patriots. However, if you have a vote, and you don't choose the Lions' dominant defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, and his nine sacks, I question exactly what you have been watching.
6. Defensive player
It's quite a pickle finding the elite defensive player this season.
But Urlacher says the best player on the Bears defense is Julius Peppers.
Clay Matthews is under consideration with 12.5 sacks.
I hate rewarding players who don't play a complete season, but Troy Polamalu has actually strengthened his candidacy with how the Steelers have played in his absence. James Harrison has made gigantic-splash plays all year with sacks and forced fumbles.
I am also considering Suh.
7. Coach of the Year
By a hair, I am leaning toward Raheem Morris of the Bucs. Tampa's started 10 rookies, dealt with a ton of key injuries and seriously overachieved with a shocking nine wins going into Week 17.
Bill Belichick has done wonders with his defense and the Patriots.
The fact that Lovie Smith has won 11 games is amazing. And I remember what I wrote earlier in the year, that the Bears were a house of cards destined to finish out of the postseason.
Mike Smith has done the same in Atlanta.
Mike Tomlin is a game away from winning a division after not playing with his quarterback for the first quarter.
Some people thought the Eagles were rebuilding. How about what Andy Reid has accomplished?
Todd Haley guided the Chiefs to a division title.
Steve Spagnuolo has touched the Rams defense and they have outkicked expectations.
Haters thought the Saints would have a Super Bowl hangover. How about the job Sean Payton has done dealing with key injuries at running back?
8. All-Pro punter
9. All-Pro running backs
It's been a strange year at the running-back position. Ray Rice has only two 100 yard games. Chris Johnson has had dominant performances but has been stuck in the mud in others. We haven't seen the sizzle from Adrian Peterson.
With apologies to Jamaal Charles, I am voting Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster as my two backs for first team All-Pro.
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