In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.
As most of you know by now, Roddy White exploded for 201 yards receiving against the Bengals, giving him a healthy 747 yards on the season. That's a 1,707 yard projected season, and for comparative purposes, the all-time record for receiving yards in a season is held by Jerry Rice, who had 1,848 yards receiving in 1995. Yeah, you read that right.
Roddy White is on the cusp of doing something incredible. The Bengals secondary is supposed to be decent, and yet that did not stop him or Matty Ice from absolutely lighting up the Dome with fireworks.
There have been many debates about whether Roddy White is even an elite-caliber receiver, but I think it's safe to say that his actions of late have put that debate to bed for now. Today, I would like to take the debate one step further.
Could Roddy White, a receiver, win the MVP award?
Follow me after the jump and let's talk about it!
In all the years of the AP MVP award, a wide receiver has never won the award. In fact, a receiver has hardly won any MVP award at all, with Jerry Rice's 1987 season often being the lone curse-breaker, if you will. That being said, a defensive tackle, a linebacker, and even a kicker have won the AP MVP award. Yeah, you read that right, too.
I have followed the Falcons very closely this year, even if I have not been able to watch the games on TV. Michael Turner has sputtered at times, Matt Ryan has sputtered at times, but there has been one constant on the Falcons this year, and that's our man Roddy White.
Pat Yasinskas has been eagerly following Roddy's zero-drop season, as shown here. I'm probably jinxing it, but the fact that Roddy has been targeted a league high 79 times, has 54 catches to show for it, AND has zero official drops is incredible. The next highest receiver with a 100% "catch rate" is Eddie Royal, who has 20 fewer receptions.
Roddy is also on track to have 123 receptions. In comparison, the record for a single season is 143, held by that guy that accounts for a hundred thousand of Peyton's touchdowns.
Realistically speaking, Roddy White will probably calm down a bit. At this point, it's probably realistic to expect about 1,500 yards and 105 receptions, which will unfortunately calm down all the MVP talk.
But let's go a bit outside of realism there. We have played 7 games, and by now you all should notice that there's a trend forming. Roddy White is a machine right now, and to be honest, I'd keep feeding him the ball until he either earned quadruple coverage or until his wheels fell off.
The great thing about this team is that other teams can't afford to double cover Roddy. Jenkins and HD are just good enough to earn respect, and Gonzo is as solid as ever and commands respect, too. I believe that Jenkins is a big part of why something very special could happen, because his first game back, he played relatively well.
Back to unrealism for a moment, I'd like to repeat myself in saying that we've played 7 games this season. Defensive coordinators, no matter what we think, are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. They know that Roddy White is a legitimate threat and will plan accordingly. The fact that Roddy has still been able to accrue such numbers in spite of that fact is an incredible feat.
Now, as I've mentioned, Roddy is on pace to be about 20 receptions and ~141 yards short of any major single season records. However, Roddy has had a few middling games this year, which have lowered his projections a bit.
Games of 78, 69, and 83 yards by Roddy are probably, in a realistic sense, playing to the law of averages. However, he has faced some solid defenses and still managed to produce good numbers.
Two games against TB, two against CAR, and games against STL and SEA remain on the schedule. That's 6 games of potential 100+ yard games, easily. We've already shown we're going to launch the ball in his direction 15+ times in a game, if necessary, so why not give it a shot?
Turner has been decent, but he hasn't been consistent. We're not a "One if by air, two if by air, heck, let's just go through the air" kind of team. However, Matty has shown that he is a solid, if unspectacular QB, and that's exactly what we need. He can make all the throws, and he's just mobile enough to get it done in crunch time.
If you're a record watcher like me, then your ears always perk up at the thought of someone breaking a record. Naturally, records are records for a reason. They are not easily broken.
Without melting my brain enough to do the math, Roddy needs about 1,100 yards to break Jerry Rice's record. He has 9 games to do so, and he has to do so on a team that is committed to running the ball first.
However, it has been murmured that one of Matt Ryan's flaws is to abuse his favorite targets, and that could play into exactly what we want as fans: broken records.
While 1800+ receiving yards would be an awesome feat, I do think that Roddy breaking the record is realistic. It might be a stretch, but it is certainly realistic.
In fact, we should start drumming up some hype for when Roddy starts to get close to the record later in the year. We could get Mularkey a serious pardon from Dave if he just started running Roddy Go Deep every play.
Now, back to the MVP talk. The MVP is such an opinionated award. It usually goes to the "prettiest" player, if you will, rather than the most deserving. Let's face it, folks. Without a #1 WR, Matt Ryan would be suffering. Heck, we would all be suffering.
Players like Peyton Manning are easily the most valuable players on their team, but don't we all know that already? What kind of a snoozefest is giving the MVP to the same guy every year? How Barry Sanders didn't win more than one half of an MVP is beyond me. That man was not only the MVP of the league, but was the MVP on some of the worst teams in the modern era.
Do I think Roddy White could be the MVP of the league? Absolutely. However, it's going to require him to flirt with 2,000 yards receiving, and I think it's safe to say it's going to happen. I've drawn this based on a few conclusions:
Of all the non-QB MVP winners in recent years, they've all had something to do with either absurd numbers or broken records. For instance:
1998: Terrell Davis (2000 yard season)
2000: Marshall Faulk (Not really sure why he won it in 2000, but not in 1999. His 1999 season was incredible. How Kurt Warner won that award over Faulk is beyond me.)
2005: Shaun Alexander (Touchdown record)
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson (The very same touchdown record)
As you can see, a non-QB MVP must put up some absurd numbers just to be in the running for MVP, which is why Roddy has a very small chance of actually pulling it off.
Another problem with receivers winning the award is that there's no real receiving nirvana, if you will. Running backs have 2,000 yards, quarterbacks have 5,000 yards, etc. etc. No receiver has ever had 2,000 yards receiving, and any other number just seems uneven until you get to 1,500. The problem with 1,500 yards is that it's so far from the actual record, it doesn't really serve as any magical number at all.
Many people think that quarterbacks are the ones who make the receivers look good. If you think for one second that the quarterback makes the receiver jump, reach for a bad pass, sacrifice himself over the middle, or make absurd one handed grabs, then you're wrong. The quarterback simply delivers the ball. Of course, the quarterback's job as a whole is much deeper than that, but receivers are overlooked when it comes to value because of how undervalued they tend to be.
Could Roddy White be the NFL's MVP this year? Yes, he could, but it would take a monstrous effort and the dethroning of Jerry Rice's 1,848 yard season to do it. At this point in the season, it's realistic to think that Roddy could do it, but it is going to require some luck, too. Thankfully, the schedule from here on out is not overly difficult, so it can be done.
Roddy's longest catch this year is for 46 yards. I'd like to believe that, at some point, someone of his talent level will break out for a huge gain. That can only help his chances of breaking Rice's record.
Just thinking about it makes me giggle like a little girl, that being Ryan-to-White getting more yards than Young-to-Rice. Realistically, it's probably just a pipe dream, but the fact that such a dream could come true is all the more reason to want to see it happen.
What do you all think? Of every receiver to ever play the game of football, could our own Roddy White be the first one to win the AP's NFL MVP award? Or will perennial contender quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady keep the crown in the arms of the passers? I look forward to discussing this with you all!