Ten-Point Stance: Mike Freeman's NFL Notebook Heading into Week 7
Every week, the Ten-Point Stance takes a look inside the NFL. This week, the insider news, notes and quotes cover Tom Brady, insensitive fans, Tom Coughlin's job status and more.
1. Is Tom Brady the MVP so far? Why, yes. Yes he is.
On the first play of New England's game against New Orleans last week, Tom Brady delivered a perfectly thrown football to wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Hit Dobson in the hands. He dropped it. Aaron Dropson.
This has happened consistently with the Patriots receiving corps. They drop a lot of passes. Footballs hit them in their hands. Their chest. Dropped.
Brady is throwing to Dobson, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Austin Freaking Collie. Brady would throw to Danny Amendola, but he's hurt. He's always hurt. He'd throw to Aaron Hernandez, but he's in jail. He'd throw to Rob Gronkowski, but he's healing from 184 surgeries. He'd throw to Wes Welker, but Peyton Manning snapped him up.
Randy Moss ain't walking through that door, homey. Hell, Brady would take Santana Moss. What's Kate Moss' 40 time?
It is the lack of talent on that offense that makes what Brady is doing so remarkable. It's also why he's the MVP of the NFL season thus far. Go back through history and tell me a quarterback who has done more with less. I know there are some. Dan Marino wasn't exactly throwing to Jerry Rice.
There just aren't that many who have seen the kind of turnover Brady has at his skill positions—and still started 5-1. What Brady is doing is almost uncharted territory. We have rarely seen anything like this.
There are of course other good MVP candidates, and they come down to these guys: Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Frank Gore, Drew Brees, maybe Alex Smith, possibly Jamaal Charles, maybe Tony Romo or Philip Rivers.
The battle is mostly about two names: Manning and Brady. The statistical advantage Manning has is gigantic. Most would pick him because the numbers he's putting up are astonishing. Manning has 22 touchdown passes so far this season, the most through the first six games in NFL history.
But being MVP is about more than numbers. It's about value. So, let's do this. If you removed Manning from the Broncos, what would happen?
They would possibly go to Brock Osweiler. That would be bad, but Osweiler would be throwing to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. That's an insane amount of talent. Demaryius Thomas alone would be a No. 1 receiver on most teams. He's just one of many on the Broncos. Osweiler wouldn't be close to Manning, but he would have a chance to be decent because he has maybe the best assemblage of receiving talent in football.
If you removed Brady from the Patriots, what would happen?
The Patriots would probably go to Ryan Mallett. Again, huge drop off, but Mallett would throw to the receivers above. Compare those guys to Manning's guys.
Brady is doing far more with far less. It's not even close. As great and as accurate as Manning is, he has so much more to work with, not to mention a better defense.
The MVP argument reminds me of something Colts owner Jim Irsay told USA Today's Jarrett Bell this week. He spoke of changing the model of how the Colts approach games.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay said, holding up his right hand to show his Super Bowl ring. "Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this."
He holds up that ring again.
That is one of the things about this debate. Manning is again putting up Star Trek numbers (I'm a Trekker, hate Star Wars) while Brady is willing and pushing his team to almost the same place Manning is. Brady doing so with far less.
That is the definition of most valuable.
2. Irsay's quote
By the way, Irsay's quote was fantastic. Loved it. Smart and funny. But I imagine Manning reading it and going, "Oh. Oh really? OK then."
Manning was already motivated. Now, I think he probably wants to obliterate the Colts.
3. Stadium construction deaths
I know that people die during building projects. But there's something about now two people dying during the construction of a building where just games will be played. But that's just me.
If you want to know about MRSA, this primer from MD Direct is one of the best things you'll read on the disease that has infected three Buccaneers—and on why the team has had such a hard time eradicating it.
5. Fan behavior
The year was 1995, and I was covering the Giants for The New York Times. The Giants' season was over, and thousands of ignorant fans seemed to show up at the game just to act like asses. They used wet snow and ice in the stadium as projectiles, and after throwing hardened snowballs at each other, they began pelting the players and team officials on the field.
One snowball hit one of the Chargers' team personnel in the head and knocked him unconscious. Things got so bad, the game had to be halted until order was restored. Fans that were caught or photographed throwing the snowballs had their tickets revoked. There were arrests. The team apologized to fans in a full-page newspaper ad.
We've seen horrible fan behavior before and since. We will continue to see it.
But fans who cheer when a player is injured deserve a special place in hell.
There's no true punitive action a franchise can take against such miscreants, but a player I spoke to had a good suggestion. If a player is injured and there is cheering in the stadium, players from both teams retreat to their benches until the cheering stops as a form of protest. I like that.
I do think players in that situation need to show fans they won't tolerate that kind of behavior.
6. League of Denial
One of the people who comes off the worst in the concussion book League of Denial is former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. I think the book's examination of Tagliabue's role in the concussion crisis ends any chance he may have had to enter the Hall of Fame.
7. QB INTs
Interesting stat from ESPN's Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley:
Of all the NFL QBs who have thrown for over 1,500 yards this season, only 3 have more INTs than TDs: Flacco, Schaub and Eli Manning.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 15, 2013
8. Thursday night games a danger to player safety?
I'm hearing this increasingly from players: They believe that playing on Thursday night isn't just unwise. It's flat out dangerous.
At least a good half-dozen have told me this. Then came Anquan Boldin's statement this week, via the San Jose Mercury News' Cam Inman:
But there are some things that just don't make sense to me. I mean if you're so concerned about player safety then why do you have every team in the league playing on Thursday night when they just competed on a Sunday, knowing how difficult it is for guys to get back to being healthy after playing on Sunday? Guys really don't feel like they're back till probably Thursday or Friday to prepare for that next week.
This is a fair point, and it bleeds into the upcoming fight over an 18-game season.
9. Offensive impotence
These numbers...wow. Just...wow. Holy crap wow.
10. Tom Coughlin safe?
I continue to hear that Giants coach Tom Coughlin is safe. He is almost beloved by Giants ownership and the front office, and the best thing about the Giants is that they're appreciative. They have not forgotten that Coughlin won two rings. So he will get the opportunity to make his own call.
If the Giants—lord help us all—go winless or earn just one victory, that could change the equation. When that happens, everything changes.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
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