ESPN NFL analyst Steve Young checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Monday afternoon to preview the Patriots-Bills game at Gillette Stadium and discuss why he believes Tom Brady is the leading candidate for league MVP. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
The Patriots look to improve to 10-0 but enter the game shorthanded after some key injuries. The Bills are 5-4 coming off two straight wins.
“To me, it’s really about the wounded Patriots is the story,” he said. “How wounded are they? What are we really going to see offensively? Can they put the numbers up? Are they just going to pound it, try to shorten the game? How are they going approach the fact that they’ve lost some guys? That should be an interesting kind of question to me.
“The Bills, I thought they’d be better. And I thought they’d be much better defensively. That’s been the shock to me, is wherever Rex [Ryan] goes, usually a defense follows. The defense has been mediocre. I know they’ve been hurt and they’ve had some problems. But more than anything I think the chance for the upset is really about the Patriots being wounded then the Bills being this giant-killer.”
Cam Newton is getting a lot of buzz for league MVP as he’s led the Panthers to a 10-0 record. However, Young said Newton has not had to do nearly as much as Brady.
“To me, it’s who’s carrying all the water. And Tom carries as much water as anybody who ever played the game, and continuously does. So if you’re talking about MVP, Tom’s the MVP,” Young said. “But that’s the interesting thing about the Coach of the Year. Well, Bill Belichick should be the Coach of the Year. But a lot of times it’s someone new, someone different, someone who’s a new story. So Cam’s new, no one’s thought about him as the MVP before. So there’s going to be a lot of hype about it, because he’s been great. But he doesn’t carry that water that Tom carries. That’s just the case. That’s just what different teams ask different guys to do different things. And sometimes it’s about capacity.
“So for me, as a quarterback watching quarterbacks, I’m always going to vote for the guy who’s carrying the most water.”
Young said he’s impressed with how Brady has been able to produce no matter who is catching his passes.
“I’ve stopped kind of being in amazement at what they’ve been able to do with the change in personnel all the time,” Young said. “The guys that Tom has, sometimes it’s a bunch of guys, sometimes there’s some superstars, sometimes it’s a collection of guys. But Tom’s always [found a way]. You see the numbers. Someone showed me a chart of Tom for 15 years, up and down, there’s really not much change. There’s some spikes, but there’s really no down. Even though — you guys have witnessed it game in and game out, year in and year out — the personnel changes dramatically.”
Aside from his season-ending injury in the 2008 opener, Brady has been an iron man, showing up for work every week. Young said a lot of that has to do with his style of play.
“He’s not going very far [on the field],” Young said. “Because he’s not going very far he has, like Dan Marino, like Peyton [Manning], they have about a 5-foot, 8-foot circle where they have to work in. But it’s subtlety. And it’s also how to protect yourself. … Some guys understand, just intuitively, how to get out of a jam — kind of find that little seam, that little spot to throw the football. then not to put your body or your arm in a bad spot. … Some guys are just innate, an innate ability. It’s hard to describe. But it differentiates the great ones from the good ones, is that ability to find that little place and how to protect yourself.”
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