If you have been on social media, or if you’ve been tuned into NFL Network, you would’ve heard by now that Cam Newton should be the “unanimous” and the “runaway” MVP of the league, a yearly award handed out by the National Football League the night before the Super Bowl. The breaths of many fans are taken away by the Panthers’ 15-1 record and the belief Cam Newton is an unstoppable force and a transcendent quarterback. But I want to dive into the theory, is Cam Newton really Most Valuable Player worthy, or was the NFL level of play just all-around bad?
First we have to push out the baby elephant in the room. Many have different opinions on the “Most Valuable Player” award in sports. After all, it is called the Most VALUABLE Player award, so many believe it’s one who adds the most value to his team. Many vote with the belief if that player was to leave the team, the organization would be in a dumpster fire. However, that’s not how I see the MVP award. Others, like myself, view it as the overall best player in the league. It doesn’t personally matter if your team had the best record, or was middle of the pack, but if you played like the best player of that season, you should be awarded the MVP honors, or at least be a legitimate choice in that discussion. For example, I felt Russell Westbrook should’ve been the MVP of the 2014-15 NBA regular season, not Stephen Curry, based on Westbrook’s play alone. So really I look out for the best player in the league that year, not just the one who’d prove to be the most valuable asset, because there’s no telling what a team would look like if that player spent that season elsewhere.
Now who do I think was the best player this season? I could vouch at the quarterback position for anyone from Drew Brees, to Tom Brady, to Carson Palmer, to Russell Wilson. I would probably not shy away from adding receiver Antonio Brown to the discussion, but receivers are often only mentioned as Heisman candidates, not necessarily MVP finalists. I felt even JJ Watt had a case, but if he didn’t win it last year, he’ll likely never win it until totaling 30 sacks.
Of all those players listed, I’d probably give it off to Russell Wilson or Carson Palmer, but that’s me personally. But let’s say everyone else wanted to hand it off to Cam Newton, whose numbers didn’t compare in completion percentage, yards, or passer rating to either Wilson or Palmer. Newton actually ranked 28th in completion percentage (59.9%), 16th in passing yards (3,837), and he actually finished 8th in passer rating (99.4). Either of those stats are nowhere near as good as Wilson or Palmer, and mostly any other category he was either worse or very similar, like passing touchdowns and interceptions, for instance.
But again, let’s say my vote doesn’t matter and Saturday the MVP award goes to Cam Newton. How does he fare to others in the past, number wise?
The previous two years, the MVP award has been won by quarterbacks, Peyton Manning in 2013 and Aaron Rodgers in 2014.
The year Peyton won, he led the league in touchdowns (55 – a NFL single-season record), passing yards (5,477 – another NFL single-season record), the season’s third-best completion percentage (68.3), and had a 115.3 passer rating, only second-best to Nick Foles, who didn’t start the entire 2013 season.
And then there’s Rodgers, who was third-best in touchdowns that year (38), seventh-best in passing yards (4,381), the season’s ninth-best completion percentage (65.6%), and a league second-best passer rating with 112.2, only trailing Cowboys quarterback, and MVP finalist, Tony Romo.
I show you both MVP seasons of Manning and Rodgers because we see the numbers, some record-breaking, and others just undoubtedly very good. Peyton Manning was considered a shoe-in for the 2013 season’s MVP, much like Cam Newton is this year, and Aaron Rodgers was among three finalists, ones who would be very deserving as well, Dallas’ Tony Romo and Houston’s JJ Watt. But can someone honestly tell me, compared to Peyton’s 2013 or Aaron’s 2014, that Cam Newton holds a candle to either of those statistically? Going by an old saying “numbers never lie”, I can honestly say Cam’s 2015 season can’t!
In ten years, we’ll look back at this season and laugh at how enamored we were with Cam Newton’s MVP season, and we’ll probably chuckle at how the NFL didn’t compensate us well enough with good, quality MVP candidates. And yes, we can dig this article back up in ten years to see if I’m right.