Earlier this offseason, we talked a little bit about the sobering history of teams that lose the Super Bowl and how they rarely achieve the same heights again the next season. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the same is true of MVP.
Let’s step back and take a second to applaud Matt Ryan for winning the MVP, the first such award the Atlanta Falcons have snagged in 50-plus years as a franchise. He deserved it, playing one of the finest seasons in NFL history (and certainly the finest in Falcons history) and leading Atlanta to their second Super Bowl. He was, in a word, awesome.
Next year, though, will Ryan be able to win the MVP again? While offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is gone, the offense promises to be extremely talented and productive again, and Ryan is clearly playing at the height of his powers. You’d be unwise to bet against him being in the mix, but you might also be unwise to bet that he’ll come away with the prize.
The last player to win it two years in a row in the Associated Press poll was Peyton Manning back in 2008-2009 and 2003-2004 (he shared it with Steve McNair in 2004). It also happened in 1995-1997 for Brett Favre (who shared it with Barry Sanders in ‘97), 1989-1990 for Joe Montana, and 1957-1958 for Jim Brown. That is the entire list, and you’ll note that it features arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time twice. Even if Ryan can equal his stellar 2017 campaign, there may be some sportswriters who elect not to vote for him.
For all that, I’m bullish on Ryan’s ability to pilot this offense to a top five finish, and if he does so he’ll deservedly be mentioned again. Let’s hope I’m right.