Tag Archives: Calvin Johnson

Voters have plenty of MVP options

With the season officially three-quarters over, it’s time to start looking at the NFL MVP race. And it’s actually a race this year, a welcome change after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (deservedly) coasted to victory in 2011.

Three of the 50 Associated Press voters recently tweeted some MVP thoughts.

Six names. No overlap. We’re in for a good finish.

I plan to go into more detail on the MVP candidates in upcoming weeks. But if I had to rank just those six names in my order of preference, it would be Watt, Manning, Rodgers, Peterson, Johnson, Luck.

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Brady leads pack chasing Rodgers

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is looking for his third MVP award. (Associated Press)

Pro Football Talk’s Gregg Rosenthal produces his midseason MVP list without too many surprises. At this point, it’s probably more important who is listed second (Tom Brady) behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: There’s really not a close second.

Rodgers might wind up with the highest yards-per-attempt since 1954. It’s hard to come up with a player similar to Rodgers historically. Steve Young may have the closest match to Rodgers’ combination of athleticism and precision passing. How do you defend this guy?

2. Tom Brady, Patriots: It’s a huge drop to No. 2 on the list, but the last few games have obscured that Brady has been dealing. His yards-per-attempt average is the highest of his career, even besting his 2007 campaign. No one completes more passes to well covered receivers.

3. Matt Forte, Bears: When everything else on the Bears offense breaks, Forte still works. No player accounts for a higher percentage of his team’s yards and it’s not even close.

4. Fred Jackson, Bills: The most underrated back of his generation is finally getting his due. Like Forte, Jackson has an outside shot to break the league’s yards from scrimmage record.

5. Drew Brees, Saints: The bad games tend to be quite bad, but the Saints would experience a Colts-like fall without Brees running the show.

6. Eli Manning, Giants: Only Aaron Rodgers is throwing for more yards-per-pass. That will be tough to keep up as the schedule gets more difficult.

7. Calvin Johnson, Lions: Detroit’s entire offense often comes down to “Throw the ball up to Megatron.” And it works.

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Megatron earns MVP vote as ‘league’s most difficult player to defend’

Despite 11 receiving touchdowns through eight games, Calvin Johnson faces an uphill battle for NFL MVP. No wide receiver has earned an MVP vote since Randy Moss' rookie season in 1998.

At least one NFL MVP voter wouldn’t select Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at midseason. And media bias probably isn’t the reason Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Mark Craig — the Vikings have played the Packers and Lions this season — makes the case for wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Only one receiver has ever won the award: Jerry Rice in 1987. Rice averaged 90.6 yards, 5.4 catches and 1.8 touchdowns per game that year. Johnson is averaging 100.5 yards, 5.9 catches and 1.4 touchdowns per game through the Lions’ 6-2 start.

So why not Megatron?

He’s often double- and triple-teamed because the Lions have no running game and no other wide receiver threat. Yet the 6-5, 240-pounder with the 4.3 speed remains the league’s most difficult player to defend anywhere on the field. Of his 47 catches, 40 have gone for a first down (85.1 percent) while 17 have gone for gains of 20 yards or longer (36.1 percent), including five of 40 yards or longer.

It’s worth noting Jerry Rice never earned the Associated Press’ MVP award — the focus of this blog — but was named the 1987 MVP by the Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association and The Sporting News. The Associated Press gave the award to John Elway, who edged Rice 36 to 30 in voting (Joe Montana received the other 18 votes).

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