Everybody who knows me or who has read one of my articles knows how I feel about the guy in the picture. For the second year in a row he won league MVP in what would under ordinary circumstances be a very impressive achievement. However, the Associated Press' decisions regarding MVP have been filled with bias and lack any consistent standard of judging players, specifically quarterbacks against other quarterbacks.
65 completion percentage, 5069 yards, 8.0 yards per attempt, 34 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 96.2 rating
When compared to Manning's line:
66.8 completion percentage, 4002 yards, 7.2 yards per attempt, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 95.0 rating
While the stat line itself is a pretty convincing argument as to who had the better year, the truly impressive thing about Brees was that his team was 8-8 given the following:
1. The Saints had the 28th ranked rushing offense
2. The Saints had the 23rd ranked yards defense
3. The Saints had the 26th ranked scoring defense
4. The Saints played in a division where no team finished worse than 8-8
5. The Saints leading receiver had 928 yards
6. The Saints leading rusher had 625 yards
Despite all of these limitations, the Saints were still FIRST in the NFL in yards per game and FIRST in the NFL in points per game.
While a case could be made for Manning doing his normal routine without much of a running game at all, the Colts' defense allowed the seventh fewest points and the eleventh fewest yards in the NFL in 2008. That much of a discrepancy is more than enough to make up for the running game and still account for the Colts' four extra wins.
What's worse is that not only did Drew Brees not win the MVP award, but the voting looked like this:
Manning 32 votes
Chad Pennington 4 votes
Michael Turner 4 votes
Adrian Peterson 3 votes
James Harrison 3 votes
Philip Rivers 2 votes
Chris Johnson 1 vote
Kurt Warner 1 vote
Drew Brees ZERO VOTES
Yes, Chad Pennington received more votes from the Associated Press than Drew Brees did.
When the 2009 season started, Brees picked up right where he left off in 2008, only with a team to back him up this time around.
Brees: 70.6 completion percentage, 4388 yards, 8.5 yards per attempt, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 109.6 rating
Manning: 68.8 completion percentage, 4500 yards, 7.9 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 99.9 rating
A lot has been made about Manning resting the final two games, but remember that he had 39 passing attempts in those two games, which would essentially amount to a game's worth of throws, putting him at 15 games played, the same as Brees. Another note on that regard is that Manning had 57 more pass attempts than Brees, so there is not really a statistical skewing here.
With that in mind, Brees set the NFL record for completion percentage, finished third in yards per attempt, first in touchdowns, and first in quarterback rating.
The hard to swallow part is that Brees lost the award this year for the exact opposite reason that he lost it last year: his supporting cast was perceived to be much better than Manning's. In terms of a rushing attack, Brees did have better support:
Saints rushing: 131.6 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry, 21 rushing touchdowns
Colts rushing: 80.9 yards per game, 3.5 yards per carry, 16 rushing touchdowns
The other area where the Saints were better than the Colts was takeaways, where the Saints had a league high 39 takeaways and the Colts had 25.
However, the reality is that despite the takeaways, the Saints' still had huge struggles stopping opponents' offenses throughout the year. The Saints were 20th in points allowed, 25th in yards allowed, and 26th in passing yards allowed.
The Colts' defense, on the other hand, was largely ignored all season even though they were eighth in points allowed and a modest 18th in yards allowed.
Another case against Brees is that he had significantly better receivers to work with. The obvious response is to look at the production of Clark and Wayne for the Colts, who were the only receiving duo this year to both eclipse 100 catches, 1000 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns while playing for the same team.
The reality of the situation is that 2008 showed us just how little unfavorable circumstances are reflected in MVP voting. Brees was put in the worst case scenario and his team still put up eight wins. Give Brees a solid running game and something resembling an NFL defense and he'll give you 13 wins.
Unfortunately, the new perception of Brees seems to be that a good running game and a turnover happy defense makes him less valuable to the team. However, besides being completely and utterly false, such a line of reasoning would have pretty much guaranteed Drew Brees the award in 2008, which obviously didn't happen.
What then, does the Associated Press use as its measurement criteria for "Most Valuable Player?" I don't think that anybody really knows for sure. They should just rename the thing the Peyton Manning award and let the NFL decide who the actual MVP is.