I have this theory–some people don’t watch sports for the love of the game…they watch just to have something to argue about. And in my mind, arguing for Drew Brees to be MVP or Andy Dalton to be offensive rookie of the year is an example of that. There’s no doubt that Drew Brees and Andy Dalton have been impressive, but there’s also no doubt that Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton have redefined the word.
If you want to know why I think there’s no debate about Rodgers being MVP, look no further than the New Orleans Saints games against the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Saint Louis Rams. Both were embarrassing displays. New Orleans looked like a team without any identity in particular on offense and that can be traced back to poor performances by Brees. Brees finished both of those games with a quarterback rating below 74. Brees has had 5 games with multiple interceptions–NFL listed his number of interceptions at 14 but I think it might be 13. Either way, it’s more than double Rodgers’ number which is 6. Brees threw three INTs against Tampa Bay which certainly doesn’t have anything approaching a great defense.
And this has been the issue with Brees–among a lot of very brilliant games he throws in some serious doozies that are rare enough as to be uncharacteristic but common enough to be expected. This year Rodgers was by far the most consistent quarterback in the league–with only two games in which his passer rating dipped below 100– and he shouldn’t have to share honors with anyone else.
I realize that stats don’t tell the whole story but in the case of Rodgers they come mighty close. Not only is Rodgers consistent numerically he’s been largely consistent across game quarters as well.
Onto the darling rookies. I think we’ve all been pretty surprised by both Dalton and Newton. I’m actually more surprised by Dalton than Newton though…I guess because I was aware of the fact that Dalton had little experience taking snaps under center, I thought he’d be a slow moving target for a lot of professional front lines, and his personality on Gruden’s QB camp just didn’t strike me as formidable. But Dalton has had very little trouble adjusting to the pro style offense (and, more importantly the speed of the pro defense) and he’s better than many of the 2nd year guys that are playing right now. And, quite frankly, though still mistake prone he may be in some areas outperforming some 3rd and 4th year dudes like Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco. But he is certainly not outperforming his fellow rookie Cam Newton.
In the past few weeks as Newton stormed through a slew of records including Peyton Manning’s rookie passing record, those championing Dalton over Newton have quieted a bit. I’m glad, because there simply should be no debate about Newton’s worthiness.
Newton has single-handedly reinvigorated a franchise that had barely been relevant since jailed wide receiver Rae Carruth pathetically stuffed himself in a trunk in an attempt to avoid capture for the murder of the mother of his child. Now, even volatile-but-talented wide receiver Steve Smith can’t hide his delight in catching Newton’s passes. it hasn’t calmed his temper, but it’s ignited his enthusiasm for sure. Newton has been on fire and he’s done it all with a defense that barely gives him 5 minutes to catch his breath in between possessions.
Beyond passing yards and rushing touch downs, Newton and Dalton are neck in neck statistically. But Dalton has the benefit of a more balanced team–including a MUCH better defense– and some scary weapons on offense including the talented rookie AJ Green and the high flying acrobatic Jerome Simpson. Thus it’s no wonder that Dalton is headed to the playoffs his rookie season while Newton is headed home.
Dalton will get his due. But this year Newton has really made a name for himself. And I’m thinking that sooner rather than later Newton will be among the youngest to ever join the much talked about cadre of elite quarterbacks.