4 Questions, 4 Analysts: Mid Season Madness
This week our staff look at Mid Season All Pro Teams, MVP candidates and more in 4 Questions, 4 Analysts.
4 Questions, 4 Analysts: Mid Season Madness
Well with us being just under halfway through the season it seemed a good time to get caught up in the madness of it all. As you’ll probably know we unleashed our Mid Season All Pro team earlier this week so we wanted some feedback on that, who is stepping up as the league MVP and what possible Super Bowl match up is on the cards.
Four questions for four analysts.
1. Nobody gets everything they want. In our Mid Season All Pro Team, which guy who didn’t make it do you think has a right to feel slighted?
Ben: I think AJ Green can count himself very hard done by not get at least an honorable mention at wide receiver. He was almost shutdown in the one game against Pittsburgh prior to the Bengals bye week but outside of that I struggle to see that five other receivers have genuinely had a better eight weeks than Green. Of the five players mentioned above him Vincent Jackson has a less consistent impact than Green and Roddy White benefits from being part of a trio of receiving targets that teams simply cannot devote full attention to. Green is the primary focus of the Bengals’ passing game and yet is still putting in tremendous performance after tremendous performance. His league leading seven scores also put each of the five players ahead of him on the All-Pro team in the shade.
Khaled: I know Tony Gonzalez isn’t much of a blocker any more, but when you look at the work he has done as a receiver, he should have gotten more love on that alone. In the modern NFL the passing game is king, and no tight end has a higher grade than Gonzalez in this regard. His ability to create separation is still there, and his work after the catch (forcing 11 missed tackles) has been superb. He’s slowed down a bit recently but is still third in yards with four touchdowns on a team not short on offensive weapons.
Neil: I’m firmly of the opinion that we have some Peyton Manning “haters” on the staff. I understand that his week two debacle in Atlanta stands against him but since then no one has played better or trended more positively. For him not to even get an honourable mention is simply wrong. I told Khaled at the time there are five quarterbacks I would have chosen before Ryan (who is only 4th in our grading) because I feel while he was good early, his last three games haven’t been of the standard I’d expect from an All-Pro.
Sam: It’ll be made worse given that his teammate got the nod in front of him, but I think Tim Jennings can feel a little hard done by. He started the season absolutely on fire and still leads the NFL with six interceptions. The only reason he didn’t make it is that teams never backed away from throwing at him, and he has already been targeted a league-leading 72 times, so naturally as a zone corner he has also given up some yards and catches. Despite all that I think he has a strong case and would be a deserving member of the team.
2. There’s some MVP chatter flying about so the question is which guy would you vote for right now?
Ben: There’s no doubt in my mind that by the end of the season a quarterback will separate himself as a clear contender for this award, so right now I’m looking outside the lines for my mid-season MVP. To that end is it any coincidence that the Vikings offense has finally started to take flight now that they are making Percy Harvin an every down part of their offense? We are used to seeing Harvin play extremely well in limited snaps and the Vikings offense struggling as a result. Now with Adrian Peterson making a miraculous recovery the Vikings offense runs as much through Harvin as it does through Peterson and he is responding with some astonishing play, somewhat helping to inflate the stats and opinions of his quarterback.
Khaled: So Neil thinks that Matt Ryan doesn’t deserve to be on the team because he’s our fourth highest graded quarterback, yet plumps for our seventh ranked guy to make the All Pro team instead of him. Well not only do I disagree but I’d say Ryan is putting himself in a season worthy of being the mid season MVP. You can manipulate the numbers all you want but he has the highest average per game grade of any quarterback and has led his team to a 7-0 record. Atlanta has the best record out there and Ryan’s ability on third down and when the game is on the line has been crucial.
Neil: I don’t think there’s a more dominant player than J.J. Watt at the moment and wouldn’t it be great to see a defensive player recognized as having as much impact as anyone? Watt is getting pressure with broadly the regularity of say Aldon Smith, while playing inside and no player at his position is making life anywhere near as uncomfortable for quarterbacks. Add to that he’s also has the best run stop percentage in the game of football, effectively making a tackle which is a defeat for the offense on one in almost every five running plays. For good measure throw in 10 batted passes. To give another perspective on just how dominant he’s been his grade of +44.5 is 26.5 rating points better than the next 3-4 end, Calais Campbell who is having a great year.
Sam: Though J.J. Watt has been unquestionably the best player in the NFL, the Packers went out of their way to try and slow him down and were able to hang 40 on that defense, so you have to question how ‘valuable’ he really is in that instance (after all he played very well). Unfortunately I think it probably comes down to a selection of quarterbacks, and the difference Peyton Manning has made to that Broncos team speaks for itself. Forget comeback player of the year, Manning has a real case for MVP.
Turn to page 2 for questions 3 and 4.