New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may be the greatest player of all time, and, in case you forgot, he has decided to treat us to his best season yet.
You can sit there and make some clever argument about how Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliott, or some defensive player you started reading about on Pro Football Focus should be the MVP this season, but you would be fooling yourself. Tom Brady is running away with this.
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Even though he hasn’t played in all eight of the New England Patriots game, Brady is unquestionably the MVP at the midseason point. With the way things are going, he’ll only continue to cement his status as the NFL’s most valuable player, because he has shown no signs of stopping his brilliant play.
If you thought Brady put together some great performances last year when literally everything else around him broke down (at one point, all their starting skill position players were injured), then you’ll be astounded by the numbers he’ll finish with in 2016. Last year, Brady led the league with 36 touchdowns and a 1.1 percent interception rater. And now he’s throwing even more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than ever before.
This might be the best supporting cast Brady’s been given since 2007 and he’s making efficient use of it. Here are five reasons why Brady should finish the 2016 season as the NFL’s MVP.
Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to throw a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. The Patriots beat the Bills 41-25. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Brady Hasn’t Thrown An Interception
Since Tom Brady has led the league in interception rate three times in his career. Avoiding mistakes has always been a strong part of the GOAT’s game. Brady has made four starts with 134 total pass attempts this season and he still hasn’t thrown an interception. Technically, Hoyer leads the league in interception rate, not throwing a pick in 200 pass attempts this year. But Hoyer is done for the season and I like the odds of Brady throwing more than 200 attempts before the other team gets their hands on one of his passes.
Brady hasn’t just been taking good care of the football, though. He’s also led the Patriots to the end zone frequently, throwing 12 touchdown passes already. That’s an average of three touchdown passes per game, which puts him on pace for 48 over a 16-game season. Needless to say, Brady’s 8.96 percent touchdown rate tops the NFL. Only one other quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has a touchdown rate above 7.0. Roethlisberger has thrown an interception on 2.7 percent of his passes. So unlike Brady, he can’t tout himself as being a low-risk, high-reward passer.
Scoring points is how you win games, but a sure way to lose games is to turn the football over. Interceptions are just one way of turning the ball over at the quarterback position, because you can ask Marcus Mariota and Russell Wilson critics about back-breaking fumbles. Brady hasn’t fumbled the ball once this season, which is remarkable.
Oct 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after an incomplete pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Heinz Field. The Patriots won 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Brady’s Numbers Are Unbeatable
Quantitative data is used to evaluate MVP candidacies and Brady’s statistics are more impressive than anybody’s. Brady leads the league in touchdown rate, interception rate, completion percentage, yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, QB Rating, and ESPN’s total QBR.
Basically, you can name any important stat out there used to evaluate quarterbacks, and Brady comes out on top. He averages 9.8 yards per pass attempt and he hasn’t even thrown an interception. When Brady tossed a league-high 36 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 2010, you could criticize him for dinking and dunking. This season, that absolutely is not the case.
Given that Brady leads the league in some of the most important stats, how can you make the argument that anyone else deserves to be pushed over him in the MVP race? I get that Martellus Bennett, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan are good players, but some of these receivers have not been at their best this season. PFF hasn’t given Edelman or Hogan even average grades, so it’s easier to argue that Brady has done more to help his wideouts than they have done to help him.
Brady puts his receivers in the best position to succeed and his 133.9 QB rating illustrates this. The Patriots have six pass-catchers with 20 targets and none of them have a catch rate below 66 percent. Hogan, Bennett, and Gronk all have catch rates above 70 percent. What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that Gronk and Hogan are averaging over 20 yards per reception to go with that catch rate, putting them on track to be among the most efficient pass-catchers in NFL history. That, of course, is thanks to Brady, who is the leader in QB rating by 18.1 points. Sorry, Matt Ryan.
Oct 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Unlike Ryan, Carr, or Andrew Luck, Brady doesn’t have an elite outside receiver with top-notch deep speed like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, or T.Y. Hilton. Instead, Brady has been using the likes of Gronk, Hogan, and Marty B. Note that Edelman has caught just one of eight deep targets and Amendola has caught just one of three. The Patriots’ deep-passing success is mostly down to Brady’s work as a passer.
Brady’s 61.9 completion percentage and 145.3 QB rating on deep passes lead the league. He is the only quarterback with at least 10 deep passing attempts to complete more than 60 percent of these types of passes. And again, he’s done it without throwing an interception. Contrast that to notable top deep passers Drew Brees and Roethlisberger, who both have three interceptions each, albeit on significantly more pass attempts.
The old argument that Brady can’t hit the deep ball simply isn’t true. What’s more, he hasn’t needed a young receiver like Aaron Dobson (mercifully gone) or Malcolm Mitchell (unsurprisingly struggling) to emerge as the deep threat the fans have always begged for.
Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass under pressure by Buffalo Bills defensive end Kyle Williams (95) as offensive guard Joe Thuney (62) blocks during the second half at New Era Field. The Patriots beat the Bills 41-25. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Compare The Two Bills Games
When the Patriots first faced the Buffalo Bills this season, they were completely embarrassed. Riding high after thoroughly out-coaching protege Bill O’Brien in primetime, Bill Belichick and third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett were humbled by longtime rival Rex Ryan’s voracious and much-improved defense.
The Patriots were shut out, a result that seemed inconceivable after they dished out a 27-0 shutout of their own against the best team in the AFC South, the Houston Texans. The long week did not help the Patriots as they looked dysfunctional on offense. With the exceptions of Bennett and James White, nobody on the Patriots offense showed up to play. They looked more like an offense run by Marc Trestman than one run by Belichick and Josh McDaniels.
In the same month, the Patriots faced the Bills again, but with Brady for Round 2. New England won, 41-25, and Brady threw 315 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bills had more yardage, first downs, and time of possession than the Patriots, but that’s because the Pats knew that their rivals never had a chance in that game. Outside of one brief moment, the Patriots had more than a 50 percent chance of winning at every point in this game.
New England played great football with Jimmy Garoppolo and did a decent enough job with Brissett at the helm. But the value of having Brady is that you know he won’t have a terrible game. Unlike a Carson Palmer or an Andy Dalton, Brady is an MVP candidate who won’t implode in any random week.
Jan 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Players on winning teams get a well-deserved advantage in the MVP race, and no team has been better than the New England Patriots this season. Though the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1, the Patriots are 7-1 and are in the top five in both points for and points against per game.
The Patriots have won all four of their games with Brady starting and they haven’t scored fewer than 27 points in any of those outings. Three of these games were against key conference opponents in the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Buffalo Bills—all of whom are potential playoff threats. Brady had a QB rating of over 120 against each of those four teams.
New England isrolling through their schedule and could make a big statement after the bye by defeating a top preseason Super Bowl favorite in the Seattle Seahawks. Brady has led the Patriots to at least 350 yards of total offense in all four of his starts and New England’s league-best record goes well with his status as the league’s best QB. He’s the leader and best player on the league’s best team. How can you really argue about his MVP candidacy?