Did Former LSU QB Matt Flynn Prove That Drew Brees Is The 2011 NFL MVP?
In the popular debate on who is most deserving of the honors of NFL MVP for the 2011 season, even as a Saints fan, I would have to be objective and say the Most Valuable Player in the NFL this regular season was Aaron Rodgers. Even with Brees shattering Marino's passing record amongst many other milestones, the Green Bay quarterback had more TDs, fewer interceptions, an insane QB rating and most importantly, the wins. As much as I racked my brain on how I could argue why Brees deserved it, deep in my heart I knew that while Brees was great, Rodgers was better.
And then Week 17 happened.
Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints squad hosted a Carolina Panthers team with rookie sensation QB Cam Newton at the helm. The Saints had already sewed up a spot in the playoffs and just one week prior they beat the Atlanta Falcons to become NFC South Division Champs. Basically, the Saints needed a win against the Panthers and some help from the Rams beating the 49ers in order for them to move up to the #2 seed and earn a first-week bye in the playoffs.
Drew Brees and the Saints cruised past the Panthers with ease by the score of 45-17. Brees was Brees, throwing for 5 TDs (finishing the season in 1st place with 46 total) and his 7th consecutive 300+ yard passing performance giving him total of 13 on the season, both marks extending his own records. Brees also finished with a total of 5,476 total passing yards, the most in a single season in NFL history. He also finished the season with 71.2 completion percentage, breaking his own record of 70.6 set back in 2009. The most prominent record set by the Saints in the final week of the 2011 NFL season was the record for total offense in a single season. Going into the final week the Saints only needed 218 yards of total offense to break the record set 11 years ago by the 2000 St. Louis Rams, better known as "The Greatest Show on Turf." In addition to breaking that record by almost 400 yards, the Saints offense also set the NFL record for the most first downs in a single season (416) and only 6 fumbles, the fewest in league history.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, all those marks were hit with Brees getting pulled after the third quarter.
So, what did Aaron Rodgers do in Week 17 to keep his name in the front running for MVP?
Nothing. He didn't play. The Packers would remain the #1 seed in the NFC regardless of a Week 17 win or loss against the Lions, so why risk anything happening to your most valuable player in a meaningless game going into the playoffs? While the decision to sit Aaron Rodgers and start his backup Matt Flynn made every ounce of sense, it may have cost Rodgers his shoe-in as the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player.
Former LSU QB Matt Flynn proved to America that it doesn't take a master to put up the numbers that Rodgers did this season with the Packers and also he proved that Rodgers wasn't as special as we all thought. Matt Flynn had no real NFL success prior to stepping onto the field this past Sunday in Green Bay's season finale. Not only did Flynn put up bigger numbers that Rodgers has all year, he had the best game of any Packer QB ever (Bart Starr & Brett Favre included). Flynn threw for over 400 yards and 6 TDs to top the Lions 45-41 in a shootout that raised a lot of questions about Rodgers MVP-like season.
Was the play of Rodgers this season really "god-like", or was the Packers system responsible for the big numbers? No matter which way you shake it, anyone has the right to wonder, How could Rodgers be the most valuable player in the NFL when he didn't even have the top performance at his position on his own team?
Ok, let's be real here for a second. I'm not irrational enough to think that Flynn is a better all around QB than Rodgers based off of one game, but the fact that he put up such ridiculous numbers definitely does discredit Rodgers season in some shape. Do you think that Saints backup Chase Daniel could step in and put up numbers similar to Brees, let alone outperform Brees' best career performance?
I know that my opinion may not count for much, being that I am such a big Saints fan, but the facts are all there. Statistically, Drew Brees has had a better season than Rodgers, but more importantly what we learned through Matt Flynn's monstrous game was that Brees is clearly the more valuable player to his team. We also learned that the success of the Packers may ride more on the performance of their offensive targets than that of their gunslinger. Rodgers season was near perfect, but the minute that one of his biggest weapons (Greg Jennings) went down, the Packers lost their shot at a perfect season. With Jennings, the Packers beat playoff caliber teams like the Saints in the season opener (barely) and the fast paced high power offense of the Atlanta Falcons, but without Jennings, they couldn't muster up more than 14 points against a below average Kansas City defense.
So let me get this right ... with Rodgers out, the Packers still managed to beat a very potent Lions team, but without one of his receivers the Pack can't get past the Chiefs? Tell me how that screams "value?" I'm not even gonna get into the comparison of Packers WRs Jennings, Nelson, Driver, Jones & Cobb compared to Saints WRs Colston, Moore, Meachem & Henderson.
To me, Week 17 proved two things:
1. Matt Flynn will be starting for an NFL Team next season, and that team will not be the Packers.
2. Drew Brees is definitely more indispensable and valuable to his team, and has had the better statistical season shattering numerous records in the process. What's more is that none of these stats or records mean anything to Brees unless he wins the Super Bowl this year. That's the type of guy we are dealing with here. Give the man what he deserves.
If Drew Brees played for a large market team like Dallas, New England or New York and put up the same numbers, shelled out the same staggering stats and shattered the same records, this conversation wouldn't even be taking place. You know it, and I know it.
Which is why I say the 2011 NFL MVP award should go to Drew Brees, or at minimum it should be shared with Aaron Rodgers as co-MVP. Call me crazy, call me a 'homer', call me anything you want ... What we saw happen this season from Rodgers, and especially Brees, was something special, and chances are, we won't see football played this good for quite some time.
I can only hope this debate gets settled in the NFC Championship at Lambeau :)