Philadelphia Eagles: Does Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson Deserve the MVP?

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IDecember 27, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles: Does Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson Deserve the MVP?

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    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is widely considered the only man who can prevent Tom Brady from winning a second MVP in four seasons.

    But is Vick even the "most valuable player" on his team?

    DeSean Jackson might not be as popular a choice as Vick. And giving the MVP to Jackson would be unprecedented: No wide receiver has ever won the Associated Press' Most Valuable Player award. 

    Still, Jackson's impact on the NFC East-winning Philadelphia Eagles is undeniable. 

    Inside, we'll debate both the case for both candidates, Vick and Jackson, and issue our overall choice. 

5. DeSean Jackson for MVP

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    Forget the final play of the Eagles' win last week in the New Meadowlands. Jackson has shown a big play, game-changing ability in 2010 that is unparalleled in the NFL.  

    He is responsible for more than a dozen plays that have covered 30 yards or more, rushing, receiving and on special teams. 

    And while Michael Vick has thrown him the ball on most of those plays, it's often Jackson's athleticism that is most remarkable about those big gainers.

    Look at what he did against the Cowboys two weeks ago (see video).

    He has an uncanny ability to turn a simple 10-yard route or a punt return or a reverse into a monstrous, momentum-altering play. 

    Even if it's just once or twice a game, that can be the difference between a win and a loss. 

5. Michael Vick for MVP

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    2010 has been a bit of a truncated season for Michael Vick, something not too surprising given that he didn't even open the year as the team's starter and his rib injury cost him three starts back in October. 

    Still, the Eagles have excelled when he plays all 60 minutes.

    In the nine games that Vick has started and finished, Philadelphia is 8-1, only losing by five points to the Bears on the road in Week 12. And the Eagles are averaging 34 points in those games.

    In games that Vick doesn't start and finish: 22 points per game. 

    Those are numbers that are hard to overlook. 

4. DeSean Jackson for MVP

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    Although Vick has missed essentially one quarter of the Eagles' season, when Jackson isn't able to produce, it's arguably even more devastating for Philadelphia.

    Consider this: Against the Packers (specifically, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson) in Week 1, Jackson caught only four passes for 30 yards.  

    The Eagles lost.

    Three weeks later, against the Redskins, Jackson caught just three passes for 19 yards.

    The next week, at San Francisco, he caught only two passes for 24 yards as the Eagles struggled to defeat the 0-4 49ers.

    In Week 7, with Jackson sidelined with a concussion against the Titans, the Eagles lost 37-19.

    And in Week 12, the Bears clamped down on the young receiver, limiting him to just two catches for 26 yards.  

    The Eagles lost. 

    In short, when Jackson isn't a dominant force, the Eagles lose.

    That's a good MVP argument. 

4. Michael Vick for MVP

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    Although Vick has missed nearly a quarter of the 2010 NFL season (and has yet to play his Week 16 game), he has been the league's most proficient scorer.

    In essentially 10 full games, he has combined to produce 28 touchdowns (20 passing, eight rushing) or roughly 2.8 touchdowns per game.

    The next closest competitor in that category, Tom Brady (34 passing touchdowns, one rushing), is averaging roughly one-half fewer (2.3) per game. 

    If scoring touchdowns is the primary objective of an offensive player, then no one else has come close to Vick in 2010. 

3. DeSean Jackson for MVP

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    If a wide receiver, Jerry Rice, can be named by the NFL Network the league's greatest player ever, then it's about time for a wide receiver to win the league's Most Valuable Player. 

    Aside from Rice in 1987, no receiver has ever won the Pro Football Writers MVP, and never has a wide receiver won the Associated Press' MVP.

    Even a kicker, the Redskins' Mark Mosley in 1982, has won that award!

    The NFL is now unequivocally a pass-first, run-second league. And quarterbacks deserve the award more often than not. But someone has to get open and catch those passes, right?

    Jackson makes as good a case as anyone ever has. 

3. Michael Vick for MVP

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    DeSean Jackson has been the most prolific pass catcher for the Eagles this year.

    But throughout the season, Vick has managed to make due without Jackson being his only option.

    Only once this year has Jackson caught more than five passes in a game, yet Vick has completed 208 of 329 attempts for a career-best 63 percent completion rate.

    And he is a pretty good bet to top the 3,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. Since Jackson has roughly one-third of those yards, Vick has been able to lead the Eagles and the number one-ranked offense in the NFL with an ensemble cast of skill players.

2. DeSean Jackson for MVP

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    There is something to be said about a player who is 5'10" and 175 pounds making it in the NFL. 

    Then again, a player who is that size and a starter is another rarity. 

    But a player that size who is as much of a game-changer (not just on special teams) as anyone in the league is another thing all together. 

    Much like another flashy, diminutive Philadelphia star (6'0", 165-pound 76ers point guard Allen Iverson in 2000-01), Jackson's size in a game dominated by giants should not be overlooked in the MVP race. 

2. Michael Vick for MVP

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    LeSean McCoy is a fine running back.  He's broken the 100-yard mark three times, he'll probably finish with over 1,200 yards rushing and is averaging better than 5.3 yards per carry.

    But with all due respect to McCoy, Michael Vick is still the Eagles' best runner. 

    Vick has two 100-yard rushing games, is averaging 6.7 yards every time he runs and has scored more rushing touchdowns than McCoy (in four fewer games). 

    Vick is not the best passer in the league, but add in his rushing totals and ability (by far the best by a quarterback in the NFL this season) and he might be the most productive in the NFL. He's certainly the most versatile. 

1. DeSean Jackson for MVP

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    It's rare that one play wins a game, let alone a division title. 

    But the argument can be made that DeSean Jackson's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against the Giants essentially did both. 

    In college football each year, the media often points out a "signature play" that clinches the Heisman Trophy for a player.  For Desmond Howard, it was his punt return against Ohio State. For Reggie Bush, his run against UCLA.  For Johnny Rodgers, his punt return against Oklahoma.

    And if DeSean Jackson can actually pull off the upset and win the MVP award, it would be largely due to his signature play, that improbable return that led to an improbable comeback. 

1. Michael Vick for MVP

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    Tom Brady would be a very deserving MVP candidate this season.  He's brought the allegedly "rebuilding" Patriots to the best record in the AFC and a top seed in the conference, and hasn't thrown an interception since well before Halloween. 

    But even that isn't as much of a "good story" as Vick winning the MVP. A player who spends part of his prime in a federal penitentiary, only to return to MVP caliber in less than two years' time is one of those redemption tales that many writers cannot forget. 

    Throw in the fact that he didn't begin the season as the starter and had to replace a pretty significant legend in Donovan McNabb, and Vick would be the ultimate "Cinderella" story. 

Conclusion

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jackson's credentials just aren't complete enough to break the long drought of wide receivers who've failed to win the AP's MVP.

    Sure, he is averaging over 22 yards every time he catches the ball, but his lack of catches (only 45, more than one-third the NFL record) and yards (1,024, over 800 shy of the NFL record) just aren't enough to outshine the play of the two quarterback front-runners, Vick and Tom Brady. 

    If anyone is going to take the MVP away from Brady, who has had incredible stats and a tremendous team season with the Patriots, it's going to be Vick.

    Since coming into the NFL in 2001, Vick has always had the potential to be a league MVP and is just as effective with his arm as his legs.

    Nine years later, he is finally worthy of the award.