by Mike Has
As we are quarantined and the world stands still the NFL world is still spinning. Looking forward to the upcoming season (slight hope there will be one), The new landscape of numerous teams stands out. Here is a preseason top 10 MVP list.
There will be undoubtedly many surprises for I base my list on performance and not hot takes and not for the “in” factor. Football is a beautiful game that is so complex that it is simple. To be on my list you will have at some point been a difference maker and have shined at the highest level.
Let’s get the hate out the room first.
Nick Foles – The most underrated QB of his generation. I have never seen a guy that has performed so well been labeled so negatively. I know the doubters and haters will say “he didn’t perform at the Rams” and “he hasn’t started a full season.” Guess who else hasn’t started a full season? Pat Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. What is never pointed out for Foles is Jeff Fisher has never groomed a QB. Steve McNair was going to succeed with our without Fisher. After having a career year in Philadelphia, replacing a #1 overall pick in Mike Vick, he was traded for another #1 overall pick in Sam Bradford. He returns to the Eagles and fills in for injured #2 pick Carson Wentz and wins every meaningful game on way to Super Bowl MVP. Following year he leads another playoff run and now has been traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Chicago Bears to replace #2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. You do not replace that many top 2 draft picks if you cannot play. Foles has shown the ability to connect on the deep ball, timing routes and he runs the read option effectively. With a defense that believes in the QB, Foles’ addition should greatly improve the Bears and have them compete for the division and post double digit wins.
Aaron Donald – This man should already have an MVP award if this was not such an offensive driven league. Donald is the premier defensive player in the league and he wrecks havoc at the point of attack. He’s to strong to be blocked one on one and too fast for most double teams. Even when the doubles are effective that allows his teammates to roam with less attention. The change of Wade Phillips from defensive coordinator should have little negative effect on Donald since I believe he can dominate in most if not all schemes.
Carson Wentz – I’ll let the naysayers talk about a full season, but for a cheap shot to the back of the head by Jadeveon Clowney there is no telling how far he would have taken the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz should have been in the MVP discussion last year but was somehow overlooked. He lead a team that played most of the season without their top 3 wr’s, 2 of their top 3 rb’s and additional injuries to Lane Johnson and Zack Erttz slowed their playoff push. The Eagles went as Wentz did. He was not helped by a defensive coordinator that left his defensive backs in bad positions so he had to make up for his shortcomings as well. With a healthy receiving corp of Greg Ward, Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson, Wentz should put up w’s and numbers to rival his 2017 MVP caliber season.
Josh Allen – He lead a resurgent Buffalo Bills team to the playoffs and with the addition of Stefon Diggs this will give Allen a sure handed deep threat to boost his offense. With the absence of Tom Brady in the division it leaves the opportunity for another team to step up and take notice. Allen has shown since his rookie year he has a win at all costs mentality and willing to leave it on the field with his arm or his legs.
Saquan Barkley – Quick, name me another player on the New York Giants offense. Apologies to Daniel Jones, Golden Tate etc but Saquan is the straw that stirs the Giants drink. His combination of speed, strength, vision athleticism makes him the most dangerous player from the running back position. It is no surprise, as Saquan goes the Giants go yet he’s proven to be nearly unstoppable. His workout videos should serve notice that he is not satisfied and is embracing the challenge to be the best.
Desean Jackson – DJax played 1 healthy game for the Philadelphia Eagles last year and recorded the only 2 50 plus yard receptions for the team. The team struggled to stretch the field in his absence and it was clear they did not have a reliable back up plan for him. Naysayers may point to DJax being over 33 as a negative, I point to if he losses a step, he is still faster than most defensive backs in the league. Djax’ presence will also show up in the unseen stats, clearing the underneath routes for Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and also helping Greg Ward in the slot. I expect DJax to have his best season ever playing with the best quarterback he’s played with since he played with Foles. Djax is more than a deep threat, he’s a player that makes every play a deep threat.
Derrick Henry – If anything more than the Tennessee Titans playoff run is needed to validate this I don’t know what to tell you. The only thing that can keep him off of this list is a holdout which I am hoping he does. Henry’s value and importance increased with an incredible playoff run that capped off a spectacular regular season. Henry’s ability and willingness to get the hard yards softens defenses for his big play ability. Who wants to tackle an 1978 Chevrolet Caprice sedan? Have at it. With the return of Ryan Tannehill and his ability to make situational plays downfield should lead to a more impressive year for Henry since Tannehill did not start every game last year. Secure the bag Henry and you can still be MVP.
Christian McCaffrey – The Swiss Army knife for the Carolina Panthers. Run CMC will again be the focal point of an revamped Panthers team that will be without franchise mainstays Cam Newton, Greg Olson and Luke Kuechly. With the addition of Teddy Bridgewater and the need for improvement at the receiving positions, Run CMC could possibly post an 1,200-1,200 season since he will be required to do much of the heavy lifting. With higher expectations on NFC opponents Tampa Bay and New Orleans and former MVP Matt Ryan in Atlanta if the Panthers qualify for the playoffs it will more than likely be because of Run CMC.
Deandre Hopkins – The Arizona Cardinals got the steal of the offseason by trading for Hopkins. His playmaking ability and freakish catches should expedite the growth of Kyler Murray and give legs to the air raid offense the Cardinals want to do. With Larry Fitzgerald providing additional leadership and sure hands I expect Hopkins’ addition to add several w’s to the win column. Any advancement from mediocrity will more than likely be a result of Hopkins dynamic ability. To see him go head to head with Jalen Ramsey 2 times a year is must see TV and something to add juice to a 1 sided rivalry of late.
Odell Beckum, Jr. – This list was not created for shock value, I will get to your favorite omissions shortly. ODB to me, OBJ to others is sometimes overshadowed by what he does outside of the white lines which is harmless, between the lines he is arguably the best wide receiver in the game. With a new coaching staff ODB should be placed in better positions to succeed. I do not expect much more than average quarterback play from Baker Mayfield which is way I value ODB so highly. His willingness to run the tough routes and little expectations from the Browns is why he is on this list. Mayfield will need to be better and not be late with passes such as the one that landed David Njoku on injured reserve last year for ODB to blossom, a quick hook to Case Keenum would increase ODB’s case for MVP.
Now for the obvious to some and glaring to others omissions.
Russel Wilson – As I type this I still do not believe I did not place him in the top 10. Wilson’s value to the Seattle Seahawks is probably unparalleled in the league. He has the ability to break you back on 3rd and longs with his legs and his arm. I would not be surprised if Wilson did become the MVP, I just expect so much more from the other players.
Lamar Jackson – I believe the league will catch up to Jackson this offseason, what may slow them down is lack offseason preparation for him. I am not a doubter in Jackson’s ability, I just think the leaps he took from year 1 to year 2 were so great that the league will have to respect his arm and he will not take the league by surprise. What I would like most from Jackson is less, less called running plays and his backup quarterback can explain better why. Last year Jackson silenced the doubters, his 2nd home playoff lost created new ones.
Deshaun Watson – The Houston Texans are all over the board and Watson’s GM/head coach Bill O’Brien did little to help him continue to grow by adding a running back in David Johnson to an already crowded backfield for DeAndre Hopkins. The negotiations to keep Laremy Tunsil show good intentions on keeping Watson upright, but the thought or hopes of a rookie wr replacing Hopkins production, especially now with limited offseason is expecting a lot for him to get similar numbers as last year would strengthen his case.
Tom Brady – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers next to the Bears arguably made the best improvement at qb. A weaker arm but better situational football over Jameis Winston should improve the Bucs enough to compete for 1 of the 8 playoff seeds but not enough for MVP.
Pat Mahomes – It’s so hard to say anything about Mahomes and not be considered a “hater.” I’ll try. I do not buy into hype machines, by no fault of his own, most media have pegged Mahomes as a unicorn. He’s not. I’ve seen Dan Marino, John Elway and Randall Cunningham among others, have 2 year runs similar to Mahomes. It is not as if the Kansas City Chiefs were not a playoff team with Alex Smith prior to him. He gained so much traction from a no look pass that some think he has the Midas touch. I am no so quick to put one on the Mt. Rushmore of qb’s as some have carelessly crowned Mahomes. I don’t know how he became a media darling, as evidenced by his questionable Super Bowl MVP, but he is. His numbers from his MVP season warrant consideration but…
Drew Brees – I can’t think of any reason this season will be any different for him and the New Orleans Saints than the last 8.
Khalil Mack – A 12 win 18+ plus sack season for the Chicago Bear could raise his stock for legitimate consideration but he would have to compete with Foles for the honor.
Jamaal Adams – I cannot imagine any team in the AFC East not having a “this is our year” mentality since Brady left the division. If the New York Jets are to make any noise it will be largely because of the best player in the division to me.
Stephon Gilmore – The way it looks right now, if the New England Patriots are going to make the playoffs this year it will be lead by their defense, which is lead by Gilmore. Gilmore’s ability to play a team’s top receiver and negating them will be key for any success this year. Gilmore has the ability to take an entire zone out of play. Even if the Patriots do not make the playoffs another superb season from Gilmore should not negate him from MVP consideration.
Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers has arguably been the best qb the last decade or so and could probably win this award almost every year but when the Green Bay Packers added the Smith Brothers they realized that as great as Rodgers is, he not super human. Rodgers has a solid #1 wr in Davante Adams but the team lacks that umphfff factor to make me believe he will be the difference maker to make him the MVP.
There you have it, my top 10 considerations and omissions. Now, what say you? I want to hear how crazy I am or how right I am. Send me your lists with your reasons why, keep it clean, I’m the only one that can get dog dirty here.