With the NFL season winding down, it’s time to start predicting awards in addition to the playoff picture. Bryan Lambert and Shahan Kamal debate who deserves MVP more: Tom Brady or Cam Newton.
Lambert: Cam Newton is balling out this year and a huge reason the Panthers are undefeated but there is no way he should be garnering more MVP consideration than Tom Brady.
Brady has thrown for the most yards and touchdowns in the league this year and before yesterday’s catastrophe in Foxboro, led the NFL in passer rating.
And although Brady deserves some of the blame for yesterday’s loss, he was without his three best offensive weapons in Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis.
The Patriots best receiver yesterday was James White. Let that sink in.
Patriots receivers have dropped the ball 41 times this year, 11 more than the next highest team.
The offensive line is getting worse instead of better and the running game is nonexistent.
All this and Tom Brady is STILL dragging his team close to victory. The Patriots had no business going to overtime against Denver and yesterday had a chance to tie the game on the final drive but there were THREE straight drops.
Jonathan Stewart has the third most rushing yards in the league. The Panthers have the best defense. Newton has more than two seconds to deliver the ball before he gets knocked on his behind.
Kamal: Although it is easy to point at Brady's lack of weapons as proof that he is the top MVP candidate, his numbers go with his receivers. Brady started the year with a healthy group of Amendola, Edelman, Lewis and Gronkowski. He hadn't lost them until the last three or four weeks, and as they went, Brady's stats dropped like flies.
The problem with making an argument for a lack of weapons is that Cam Newton also has a lack of receiving weapons around him.
Newton lost his number one receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to a torn ACL before the season started. The rest of his receivers are a group of guys that are only in Carolina because nobody else was willing to sign them. The only receiver in Carolina that is worthy of note is tight end Greg Olsen, who is by no means anything close to Rob Gronkowski.
The issue with looking at Brady's numbers and pointing out that they are better than Cam's is that Cam is also a dual threat quarterback. He leads the league in rushing yards for a quarterback and is top five overall in rushing touchdowns. Perhaps more impressive is that he has fearlessly led game-winning comebacks against teams like Seattle, Indianapolis, and New Orleans.
You can argue that teams like those shouldn't have been competing if Carolina were as great as advertised, but in each of those games, guys like Ted Ginn Jr. made Cam miserable by dropping open touchdown after open touchdown. You can bet Cam wishes that he had some semblance of a competent receiver in Carolina.
Bryan: I don’t see the fall in Brady’s stats or play that you are. Yesterday he threw for over 300 yards, had three touchdowns and fell just short of a fourth quarter comeback.
He’s still getting it done.
Also, Brady had more receiving yards than his No.1 wideout, Brandon Lafell.
I’m not taking away from Newton’s dual threat ability but when it comes to playing the quarterback position, Brady is just flat out better than Newton this year.
Cam Newton is 29th in the NFL in completion percentage. Now you can argue that Newton’s receiving core is just as depleted as the Patriots but keep in mind that no team has dropped more passes than the Patriots this year. By a wide margin.
I also think you’re severely overlooking what Newton has around him.
Greg Olsen is no stiff. Consistently one of the most underappreciated weapons in the league, there’s only been two games he hasn’t gone for more than 50 yards or caught a touchdown.
Like I said earlier, Jonathan Stewart is tearing it up with the third most rushing yards in the league. Legarrate Blount is 17th.
Oh, and Carolina has the best defense in the NFL once again.
But the award is for Most Valuable Player and no player is more valuable to their team’s success right now than Tom Brady.
Kamal: I think you're overestimating the Panther's defense. They're great, but not best. It's pretty obvious that Denver's defense is by far the best in the league. Carolina gave up 38 to a mediocre Saints offense and blew leads against not so great offenses against Green Bay and Indianapolis. Cam has actually had to play Superman again and again to win games. Even though Brady has a way higher completion percentage, he has also attempted roughly 150 more passes than Cam throughout the course of the first twelve games of the season. I think a more telling statistic is their average yards per attempted pass, with Newton being just slightly below Brady in that category.
Rushing touchdowns aside, Cam has also thrown 25 touchdowns to Brady’s 31, which isn’t a big difference. Blount’s numbers are skewed quite a bit by the fact that Belichick uses multiple running backs per game, limiting Blount’s snaps. Stewart, on the other hand, is the only running back in Carolina, so he gets the majority of their snaps. Something I think that you are overlooking is the Josh McDaniels’ play-calling for the Patriots offense.
In games like their win over the New York Jets, Brady had more rushing attempts than anyone else on the team, with McDaniels letting him throw the ball over fifty times. It showed up again in the loss to Denver in overtime, where the Patriot’s running backs were targeted on more passes than they had rushing attempts, which makes little sense, given that it was a cold and snowy game. It’s clearly evidenced in New England being ranked 28th in the league in rushing attempts per game. Both teams have roughly the same average-yards-per-carry, but when you don’t choose to run the ball, you’re not going to gain rushing yards.
There’s no doubt that Brady is having another stellar year, but Cam Newton has taken a fringe-playoff team from last year to Super Bowl contenders this year, all the while establishing himself as the league’s Most Valuable Player.