FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady just completed one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, but it fell slightly shy of the performance from Aaron Rodgers, who will likely win the MVP award.
Brady threw for 5,235 yards, the second most in history, and 39 touchdowns, the second highest output of his career. And he led the Patriots to a 13-3 record, which was the best mark in the AFC. Statistically, in terms of yards and touchdowns, Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (5,476 yards, 46 touchdowns) were in a world of their own in 2011.
But Rodgers (4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns) was a bit more impressive across the board, most notably with his six interceptions, which were much fewer than Brady (12) and Brees (14). Rodgers also led the Packers to a 14-1 record before sitting out the regular-season finale, a move that would make Ted Williams turn in his grave as his style points took a hit. Add one more nod to Rodgers, whose 9.25 yards per pass attempt were the most in history among quarterbacks with at least 350 pass attempts in a season.
You could talk in circles about the values of each statistic, particular in terms of an MVP vote. But the only truly agreeable baseline is that Brady, Rodgers and Brees all had phenomenally awesome seasons in 2011. Even as the NFL is trending in the direction of the quarterback, this was a season that will be hard to replicate for any trio of quarterbacks down the line.
If you like yards and touchdowns, the honor belongs to Brees, who is a strong candidate to be named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. If you like victories and efficiency, to go along with plenty of yards and touchdowns, it belongs to Rodgers, who did a great job captaining a team after a Super Bowl run, too. And if you like consistency across the board, despite a relative spike in interceptions, it probably belongs to Brady, who probably does more for his team than any player in the league, which is the spirit of the award to a large degree.
Bottom line, if any of these players were removed from their respective teams, they probably all miss the playoffs. As such, there really isn’t a wrong answer in the MVP vote. And the player who finishes second or third (assuming it’s not unanimous, which was the case last year for Brady), could probably say they had a better season than a handful of previous MVP winners.
This just happens to be Rodgers’ year, and the voters have already spoken in his favor. Rodgers received 47 1/2 of the 50 votes for All-Pro (Brees got the other 2 1/2), and that should provide a major indication of which way the MVP will shake out when it’s announced the day before the Super Bowl.
Brady did as much as he could this season to propel the Patriots to a 13-3 record. His campaign just fell ever so slightly short of Rodgers’ output in Green Bay.