MVP for Ryan, Another Silver Medal for Brady, Another Record for Brees and a First Time for Rodgers

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 11:55 AM

1) If on-field performance is the measure, Matt Ryan should run away with 2016 NFL MVP honors.

If you follow Football Outsiders, and you should, you may have already caught Scott Kacsmar's fantastic breakdown of why Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is most deserving of 2016 NFL MVP honors. No quarterback since Aaron Rodgers in 2011 has finished a season with a 100.00 QBS2 (ranking No. 1 in passer rating, DVOA and QBR), a feat that Ryan can reach with one week left in the regular season. The lowest ranked scoring defense in NFL history to support an MVP quarterback was the 2013 Denver Broncos (22nd), backing Peyton Manning. Through Week 16, the Falcons rank 25th. Domination with bottom-feeding support on one half of the ball, vs. the hardest schedule of defenses any offense has seen this year could leave Ryan's 2016 amongst the best passing seasons ever.

2) Tom Brady is the ultimate silver/bronze medal winner, and that's an amazing accomplishment.

Brady's consistency, year in and year out, in spite of advancing age, is an incredible accomplishment. While I've never quite bought into the mythos of "Tom Brady the super-dietitian" (the same man who has spent 39 years avoiding a single sip of coffee to keep his body in supreme condition is the same man who sliced his thumb open digging out an obstruction from his cleat), his elite level of performance at this stage of his career is special. Brady would have a strong argument for MVP honors if not for Ryan's dominance, his team's 75% winning-percentage without him, Jimmy Garoppolo's 41.7% DVOA (vs. Brady's 30.9%) and the fact that he's missed 1/4 of the 2016 NFL season. Brady's performance ranks him amongst the best, but true to the long-standing theme of his career, he doesn't stand out as the best.


  • 2nd in passer rating
  • 2nd in Y/A
  • 3rd in DVOA
  • 3rd in QBR
  • 4th in passing yards per-game
  • 7th in completion-percentage


99% of all NFL quarterbacks would trade their careers for Brady's and as is true in the acting world, being an Oscar nominee is nothing to shrug your shoulders at. Using QBS2 to adjust for era, Brady's 82.45 career average stands amongst the best in NFL history. Perhaps more impressive is his 88.74 QBS2 Prime (the average of his ten best seasons). If Brady finishes 2016 with his current QBS2 mark of 94.79, his QBS2 Prime would increase to 90.41—ranking him below only Joe Montana (90.53) and Peyton Manning (96.93) amongst all qualified quarterbacks since 1937.

3) Drew Brees is closing in on a major single-season record, only nobody is talking about it.

In the history of professional football, only eight quarterbacks have completed 440 or more passes in a single-season. One quarterback, Peyton Manning, completed a then-record 450 passes in 2010 (his final season with the Indianapolis Colts). Former Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, also completed 450 passes during his 2013 MVP campaign. The remaining six quarterbacks to reach this mark all have one thing in common.

Most Pass Completions (Single-Season)


  • 1. 468 Drew Brees 2011
  • 2. 456 Drew Brees 2014
  • 3. 450 Peyton Manning 2013
  • 3. 450 Peyton Manning 2010
  • 5. 448 Drew Brees 2010
  • 6. 446 Drew Brees 2013
  • 7. 442 Drew Brees 2016
  • 8. 440 Drew Brees 2007


At his current pace, Brees will finish the 2016 season with 471 pass completions, breaking the mark he set himself in 2011 (468). It would also leave him with the three highest single-season totals in NFL history. Imagine, Brees in his third best pass completion season will have completed more passes than any other quarterback, in any season, in all of NFL history. Brees is also on-pace to finish 2016 ranking No. 1 with 5,181 passing yards. If he eclipses the 5,000-yard mark again, that would leave Brees with five 5,000-yard passing seasons. The rest of the NFL, in all of NFL history, combined, has produced four 5,000-yard passing seasons (Marino in 1984, Brady in 2011, Stafford in 2011 and Manning in 2013). If Brees finished the 2016 season ranking No. 1 in passing yards, he will have accomplished this feat a record 7x. To put that into perspective, Dan Marino led the NFL in passing 5x, Peyton Manning 3x and Tom Brady 2x and Aaron Rodgers 0x, which brings me to my next topic.

4) There's a first time for everything and Aaron Rodgers may finally be No. 1.

Like Brady, Rodgers has often ranked highly amongst his peers. But in respects to touchdown passes, passing yards and completion-percentage, Rodgers has never ranked No. 1 in the NFL. Including 2016, he's been a starter for nine seasons, giving him a total of 27 opportunities to finish with a No. 1 ranking in any of those three categories. True, he missed 1-start in 2010, 1-start in 2011 and 7-starts in 2013, but he was only pacing a No. 1 ranked finish in one category (touchdown passes) during one of those seasons (2011). 2016 may be Rodgers' first time. Currently leading the NFL with 36 touchdown passes (to Drew Brees' 35, Matt Ryan's 34), Rodgers is on-pace to finish 2016 with 38.4 touchdown passes. That's a ton, although, lightyears short of Manning's 55 in 2013, a record many, including Manning himself, expected to be broken shortly after it was set. Rodgers' 2016 has been better than his 2015 season, but if you think a quarterback ranked 14th in Y/A is an MVP-candidate, you might want to look back above to topic-1.

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