I am amazed that so many MVP conversations focus on players who are surrounded by many other talented players. That seems to go against the most simple definition of the concept. Quite often, the winner is the player who put up the most gaudy numbers, such as Brady in 2007. Take away one of those very, potent weapons and then see what he would have done.
Well, that is the point of this article; Adrian Peterson nearly broke the single-season rushing record on a team without a strong passing attack. Calvin Johnson was in the mix with his team-carrying and record-breaking performance on a Lion team that had little else going for it.
This is why my early vote goes to Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. And these are the reasons why:
1. Just like in 2006, when Brady had no recognizable receivers at his disposal, he will lead this corps of misfits like the transcendant master that he is. Brady may not even have a single receiver on opening day that caught a pass from him in 2012. That man, Julian Edelman, is not a lock to start the season, or even make the roster. Instead of proven weapons like Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, Brady may be cobbling together a group that includes such less-than-notable names as Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones, Lavelle Hawkins, Daniel Fells, and rookies Dobson, Boyce and Sudfeld.
Tom took his motley crew in 2006 to the AFC championship game, and many of us believe that his fourth attempt (most likely successful) at Super Bowl glory was actually stolen from him. All of this, 3529 yards on 61.8 percent passing, 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions and a QB rating of 87.9 which was only the fourth worst of his career in seasons where he missed one game or less, despite having a rookie running back who never lived-up to his first-round hype.
2. Tom Brady is throwing better than ever despite preparing to start a season at the ripe, old age of 36. He was once maligned for an inability to "push the ball downfield", yet routinely throws 50+ yard passes and threads needles to complete amazing passes where no QB dares to try. He has proven to be one of the most accurate passers ever, with a career completion percentage of 63.7 and a TD to INT ratio of nearly three to one.
3. Tom Brady makes everyone around him better. This is really a result of the first two points, but bears fleshing-out. Remember 2007 when Bill Belichick saddled Brady with a perennial malcontent in Randy Moss? The move was both hailed and criticized, yet Brady connected with Moss for records in both touchdowns thrown and caught in a season.
And then the aforementioned 2006 season illustrates what Brady can do with no talent around him. The San Diego Charger cast-off became his number one receiver, and save for the drop that could have saved the AFC championship game, Caldwell manged to more than double his receiving yardage taking passes from Brady over Rivers, and nearly rode Brady's coattails to a ring.
4. Bill Belichick always has a plan; and I will include Josh McDaniels in that, too. Perhaps the least recognized factor in the success of Tom Brady (besides his own drive and determination) and the New England Patriots is Belichick. He takes cast-aways and malcontents and turns then into productive winners.
"The Patriot Way" is not something that can be put on paper; it is simply a way to maximize the benefit of people and situations with a head for the game that baffles all logic. Belichick just sees things differently than the rest of the crowd. There are no stats for this. Some have it, some don't get it.
Tom Brady, sixth round pick out of Michigan, seventh QB selected in 2000, has flourished under the watchful eye of Belichick. He has accomplished more than 99 percent of quarterbacks to ever play the game. And he does it best when the chips are down. He could have been MVP in 2006.
The chips are down in 2013. And Brady should be the early favorite for MVP in 2013. He will have some help, but nothing like the top QBs in the league. And he will win. That's what an MVP does.