Thursday, January 17, 2013

Angry Rant: Adrian Peterson Does NOT Deserve to be NFL MVP

by John Huffstetler

To start, no running back ever deserves to win the MVP. Adrian Peterson had a terrific season (for a running back). He almost broke the single season rushing record and rebounded from a horrific knee injury on the atrocious dirt at FedEx Field (wait, that sounds familiar) to become one of the greatest stories of injury rehabilitation in pro sports history. As a result, he is overly credited with Minnesota's amazing turnaround this season from a 3-13 joke to a 10-6 playoff team. The team's dramatic turnaround in the defensive secondary and their jump to elite status along the offensive line with the addition of Matt Kalil are factors in the turnaround that are conveniently ignored. He is now garnering MVP support from people who frankly don't understand how the game of football works or the lack of importance of the RB position. Here is a link to my article from October discussing how every running back is essentially overrated because their yards gained are predominantly based on the blocking from the offensive line in front of them.

Vikings stud rookie OT Matt Kalil
When examining offensive line statistics from multiple outlets, Minnesota's offensive line consistently ranked in the top 10. This article from Pro Football Focus, which ranks offensive lines based on run blocking, pass blocking, and lack of penalties, has the Vikings o-line ranked 3rd in the entire NFL this season. Run blocking, obviously, has a large effect on rushing yards, and the Vikings were 2nd in the league in this category; additionally, penalty yards and pass blocking have a big impact on rushing yards because an offensive line that avoids penalties and sacks puts their team in a position to run the ball in shorter down and distances. The Vikings were 5th in penalties and 11th in pass blocking, meaning the offensive line not only was creating running lanes for Peterson, but they were also frequently keeping the Vikings in running situations.

As a result, Peterson was tied for 3rd in the league among RB's in % of snaps played at 74%. By comparison, however, EVERY top MVP candidate at QB played 97% or higher of the snaps (Manning (97%, Brady 98%, Rodgers 97%). Peterson frequently left the field on 3rd down, the most important down in the game, in favor of Toby Gerhart. This is understandable considering the nature of the RB position and the fact that Peterson was coming off a devastating injury, but the fact remains that every QB was on the field on every important 3rd down and Peterson was not. For a running back, Peterson's snap % was fantastic, but overall, it was below average. Peterson's 2,097 yards this season was easily first in the league among RB's by over 400 yards; however, in a passing league, 28 QB's had more yards and 8 QB's had more than DOUBLE the yards that Peterson gained. His 12 TD's ranked 3rd among RB's, but 12 QB's had more than double his TD production (3 had triple his TD's).

The Top Two MVP candidates: Brady and Manning
Of course QB's should have more yards and TD's than a running back, but isn't that the entire point? The NFL is a league where teams live and die on the play of their Quarterback. There is a reason that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers always make the playoffs. There is a reason why their teams consistently perform despite the talent surrounding them or the injuries the team sustains. There is a reason why the Colts and Patriots, respectively, missed the playoffs when Manning and Brady were lost for the year with injuries in past seasons. Running backs should NEVER be considered for MVP. A great tackle? Absolutely. A dominant defensive player? Definitely. Running Back is the least important position on the field and giving an MVP to someone who plays such an overrated and unimportant position would be a complete joke. Who should win MVP this year? Take your pick of Brady, Manning and Rodgers. You can't go wrong with any of those choices. I would take Brady because he played a slightly more difficult schedule than Manning, and beat him head-to-head. QB's should win an overwhelming majority of the MVP awards because they are the most important player in a team's success. Failing that, a great o-lineman or defender. Never a running back.

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