Mailbag Time and I'm wearing Uggs and waiting for a call back from Leonard Hair Transplant Associates.
Yup, this is home base of Camp Brady. And my column on Monday suggesting that Brady is the clear-cut MVP brought the expected feedback.
Brady ball-washer? Check. The world's biggest fan? Check. Blinded by Brady? It's there. And yes, I even get "served" by a Rivers fan.
It's not just MVP talk this week, as I relive the most pointless 12 hours of my life, defend the honor of Matt Cassel (while sort of ripping him), whine about how difficult it is to WRITE A REPORT CARD (coal miners all over the world weep for me) and finally wrap up the rack of 15.
To the 'bag we go ...
I agree 100%. Brady really deserves the MVP this year more than any other. He abruptly lost his #1 receiver a quarter of the way through the season, his go-to receiver (Welker) is coming off a major injury, he got Deion Branch re-aquatinted with the offense right away (the offense had changed quite a bit since Deion left, even he admitted that), his other receivers are Edelman (who has seen very few snaps) and Brandon Tate (who can’t seem to be able to hold on to the ball). Not to mention the tight ends, two of them who are rookies and Crumpler who is new to the team.
Oh, and don’t forget the running backs. Kevin Faulk was lost at the beginning of the season (a huge loss that people seem to forget about). Green-Ellis and Woodhead have been great, but they came out of nowhere.And like you said, the defense ranks 31st.
My point is that, not to take away from the receivers, tight ends and RBs who’ve all done a remarkable job, but without Brady running the show this team wouldn’t be in the playoff hunt let alone have the best record in the league.
Brady has been decisive, calm and patient in the pocket, and a fired-up leader on and off the field. He’s the guy making this team go.
With all the moving parts around him he has consistently performed at a high level and made the offense come together seamlessly.
A: You pretty much nailed the case, Danny, and needed about 1,000 words less than me to do it. Take Brady out of the Pats equation for a second and look at the defense (tons of first and second-year guys playing) and the offense (undrafted running back duo, rookie tight ends, no Moss) and you can't tell me this is anywhere close to a 9-2 team with an average NFL quarterback (think David Garrard). As good as Rivers has been - and he's been terrific - do you think if David Garrard had been the starting QB for the Chargers this season - with the NFL's top-ranked defense, Antonio Gatesand a running game that's been as good as the Pats - they'd be that far off from 6-5? I don't see it.
Um … doesn't Michael Vick play in the NFL? Are you really THAT blinded by Brady?
A: Hey, a man in Ugg boots will blind me. Always. No better look.
Vick has been unbelievable this year. He's on the short-list for MVP (if I was voting today I'd have him fourth behind Brady, Rivers and Matt Ryan) and I get that as a story it's compelling. But the Eagles are 7-4 (two games behind the Patriots) and Vick has missed three games with injury. And in those three games the Eagles averaged 26 points and Kevin Kolb had two games with a passer rating over 100 - including a 133.6 rating in a win over the Falcons, the top team in the NFC (Kolb threw for 326 yards and three TDs in the win). I'm not sure the Eagles are any worse than 7-4 if Kolb was the QB all season. You think the Patriots are 9-2 if Kevin Kolb is the quarterback?
I was unsure if Brady really was worthy of being named the MVP of the league so far this season before I started reading this; don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Pats fan of course, and I’ve watched every game so far, so I know how well Tom has played and that he deserves to be in the discussion. But I started buying into the Phillip Rivers hype machine too (many experts claiming he’s “carried his team” all year long and is “the best QB in the NFL right now”). Then you start to look at the stats, each teams’ schedules, what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, and what each team has accomplished…
Kirk, I think you really did your homework well on this one. Every point you made is well laid out and valid. The Chargers do look scary right now, and they may even be playing better than the Patriots right now, but Brady has been the most valuable player in the league all season long.
NY Pats Fan
A: Yup, I'm a genius. And I usually don't do this, but I'm going to take to behind the curtain. 12 hours in life of the man who once finished ninth in WEEI.com Employee of the Month voting. Let's pick, I don't know, this past Tuesday as an example.
4:25 a.m.: Alarm clock wakes me up. Magic 106.7. "The Lady in Red."
4:32 a.m: Finish a brilliant cover version of "The Lady in Red" in the shower. "I never will forget the way she looks tonight … Lady in Red." Dropping to my knees to close it out might have been over-dramatic in retrospect, but it felt right.
4:35-10:30: Drive to Florham Park, New Jersey to cover Jets practice. Hard to believe that there was traffic in New York, which never drives me crazy. Thank God for Sirius radio. I mean, thank God for my WEEI Live application.
10:35: Find out there is no media access Tuesday or Wednesday. "One for the Moron File," the P.R. guy says to me with a laugh before telling me he's a big fan of my work and asking me to autograph a printed-out copy of my "Ranking the fantasy Tight Ends" from 2008.
(Not the whole truth, exactly. I actually found out by - wait for it - checking my email while standing in the parking lot of the practice facility. Maybe something I should have done six hours earlier?)
10:36: Weep in front of Gastineau statue.
10:40-4:36: Drive back to my house secure secure in the knowledge that I have given WEEI.com an incredibly productive day of work and comforted that four episodes of "Little People, Big World" await on my DVR.
Another point to make is what would Brady’s numbers look like if he was playing against the Broncos, Raiders, for four games (Chiefs are decent this year), and then playing the Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers? That’s eight games. Brady’s schedule of playing the Jets once so far, the Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins, and coming up are the Jets again, the Packers, Bears, and even the Dolphins one more time (who beat the Raiders easily, something the Chargers couldn’t do.) I think the numbers are getting everyone’s attention about Rivers, but look at his numbers against the Pats and Colts, he was subpar at best, and those were his toughest games!
Brady’s margin for error with this terrible defense is slim to none. Put it this way…if Brady is on the Chargers, are they 6-5? If Rivers is on the Pats, are they 9-2? I’m not so sure. Brady is the MVP, the Chargers are underachievers. They should be 9-2 at the least with the EASY schedule they have had. MVP’s win close games, not just put up Madden-like video game numbers.
A: Rivers has won close games, Chris, it's not that. Brady has just been better (same TD passes, five fewer picks, higher passer rating,) and his team - with the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL and not a lot of weapons on offense - has the best record in the league. Rivers has the top-ranked defense in the NFL and is three games worse than the Patriots (with a home loss to Brady and the Pats mixed in). If this was an NFL Offensive Player of the Year argument I'd be OK with Rivers. But I'm not sure how you can make an MVP case for Rivers over Brady when the Chargers aren't even in the playoffs.
They are both amazing quarterbacks, and right now both are deserving of the award. The Patriots and Chargers should both be extremely happy with the guys they have under center regardless of who wins the People’s Choice Award.
Both players have compensated for teammates’ mistakes as much as a human being possibly can. Not every drive can be a scoring drive.
I’m sure if things continue as expected, the Pats finish 13-3 and the Chargers 11-5, Brady will win the award, and he’ll deserve it. But nobody in San Diego is going to wish they had him, nor should they. Rivers will get his ring (or a few) before his career is over.
A: Sounds about right. Of the three quarterbacks taken in the first 11 picks of the 2004 draft two - Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger - have Super Bowl rings. But if you were starting a franchise tomorrow wouldn't Rivers be the guy you would take first?
RE: Rivers is MVP
What a Tom Brady nut-hugging article. Either Tom Brady is this guys favorite football player or this man despises Philip Rivers. Everything good said about Rivers was followed by a “yeah but…” If you can’t make a solid argument for Tom Brady for MVP without trying to low ball Philip Rivers’ play, then your article deserves to be low balled.
I love how you have the audacity to complain that the Chargers have an easy schedule five days after Tom Brady has his best performance of the year against the 2-9 Detroit Lions. Not only has Philip Rivers performed better with more adversity than Tom Brady, but he has also looked like the better QB straight up if you have watched all of each teams games. If Rivers was playing for the Pats this year they would be 11-0, and if Brady was a Charger they’d probably still be 6-5 considering the losses for the Chargers have been uncontrollable factors for a QB.
My response has discredited your article and strengthened the argument for Philip Rivers in about 500 less words. That’s how easy it is to see that Rivers has been the MVP thus far.
A: Nut-hugging? Or do you mean Ugg-nutting? Sorry, I'm a little rattled after being served. I always wondered what it would feel like. Someday I will serve someone, I just know it.
I wasn't really "complaining" about the Chargers having an easier schedule than the Patriots. They just do. I'm not sure what "more adversity" means in regard to Rivers, either. He's had injuries, sure, and no Vincent Jackson. But no Logan Mankins, no Kevin Faulk (basically) and nine catches and out from Randy Moss? Is that any worse than a wash in the adversity category? Yeah, Brady played great against a lousy team last week. Of course, the two games before that he completed 72 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and zero INTs against the Colts and Steelers.
As for the idea that the Patriots would be 11-0 with Rivers and the Chargers would be 6-5 with Brady … come on. I have no clue if that's true and neither do you or anyone else. What we know is this:
Patriots (tougher schedule, 31st- ranked defense): 9-2
Chargers: (AFC and NFC West schedule, 1st-ranked defense): 6-5
And Brady and Rivers have virtually the same statistics. How is this even an argument?
Rivers is the man. The numbers he has put up without all of his weapons are staggering. If Rivers is not on the Chargers they easily go maybe 5-11. If Brady is not on the pats, oh wait we saw that with Matt Cassel when they went 11-5. Bottom line Rivers is the most valuable to his team which is what the award is supposed to be for.
Rivers Is The Man
A: Oh, you mean the Matt Cassel who beat Rivers and the Chargers in Week 1? Served! You got served! It finally happened.
Again, this isn't a referendum on the greatness of Rivers. He's plenty great, and the Chargers would be toast if he blew out his knee tomorrow. A very solid MVP candidate, and there have been guys who have won the award while having seasons worse than the one Rivers is putting together. But Brady is having a better season.
(And the 11-5 Cassel argument is flawed for a number of reasons. One, it was a five-game drop off from the previous year. From what we saw from Brady in 2007 and what we've seen this year isn't it becoming clear that the 2008 Patriots might've gone 13-3 or 14-2 if Kevin Faulk hadn't gone to that Lil Wayne concert? And by the way - it's also becoming clear that it wasn't just any QB that filled in for Brady in 2008. Take a look at Cassel's numbers this season: 2,300 yards, 22 touchdowns and four picks. He's thrown just one interception since September 26. And it's his team in first place in the AFC West, and they'll probably win the division if they beat the Chargers in Week 14.)
RE: Report Card
There is no way this defense deserves a C-, C+, and C. You cannot give up the points, yards, and 3rd down conversions that they did to a bad team with a 2nd string quarterback and say it was an average and acceptable day. If they could just stop with all of these weak and non-threatening blitzes that they keep using we may be better off, because they are just not working at all. Drop more people in coverage, bring in more linebackers like Ninkovich and Crable instead of the lineman and at least you'll have more bodies to protect in the second level of the defense. These defensive packages just don't work when we have a Defensive line with all their injuries and an inexperienced group of DB's. Let the linebackers carry more of the load.
A: That's fair, Kraz, but I gave the defense a small bump for holding the Lions to seven points in the second half and coming up with a couple of turnovers in the last two quarters, including a game-changing pick by Devin McCourty. But here's where you are right and where the report card can get a little tricky: If the Lions offense had put up the same exact numbers but the defense had held the Patriots to 21 points instead of 45 I think the grades would be lower for the Pats D. That strikes me as inconsistent and I'm still not sure whether a team winning or losing should have any effect on a position's grade.
Loved the Rack of 15, but I still think you should have included post-Y2K cleavage. But there was a huge omission on your list and the also-ran list you had the next week. Michael Corleone's Italian wife in "The Godfather" has to be on it.
A: Ah, Apollonia Corleone. Probably the best nude scene in any truly great film. Well, that and Buffalo Bill in "Silence of the Lambs." Was there ever a bigger marriage downgrade in movie history than Apollonia to Kay Adams?
Apollonia is another oversight and this chart is losing credibility each week. I'm beyond ashamed, really. If you are going to put together a list this important it simply needs to be better researched. You can blame me, I guess, but I did ask WEEI.com bigwigs to furnish me with three interns for this and was turned down for some reason. Hope they'll be available when I unveil my 64 Best Sports Cougars in history just in time for March Madness. And I'm only half-kidding.
Since I will be covering the Jets in New Jersey on Thursday and Friday - or at least driving to New Jersey on Thursday morning - there will be no NFL picks column on Friday. So here are the Week 13 picks:
Houston (+9.5) over PHILADELPHIA
New Orleans (-7) over CINCINNATI
Washington (+8.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Chicago (-3) over DETROIT
MINNESOTA (+5.5) over Buffalo
Cleveland (+4.5) over MIAMI
San Francisco (+11) over GREEN BAY
Denver (+10) over KANSAS CITY
Oakland (+13.5) over SAN DIEGO
Atlanta (-2) over TAMPA BAY
SEATTLE (-6) over Carolina (Lock of the Week -- 10-2 on the season on LOTW)
St. Louis (-3) over ARIZONA
INDIANAPOLIS (-5) over Dallas
BALTIMORE (-2.5) over Pittsburgh
NEW ENGLAND (-3) over New York Jets
Huge game (duh) for both teams, but big picture it means just a little more to the Pats. If they lose, any shot at the AFC East title (and a one or two seed in the AFC) is gone. They'll be a game behind the Jets but with the season sweep it'll really be two games with four left. If the Jets lose they'll be a game back but still aren't a terrible spot when it comes to the divisional race. Throw in the home factor and the struggles of the Jets pass rush and I think the Patriots win a close one.
Patriots 24, Jets 20.
Last Week: 8-8