Tom Brady's coronation as the leading MVP candidate for the 2010 season has only gained momentum over the past couple weeks.
It’s a huge upset if anyone else emerges with the award when The Associated Press announces voting results during Super Bowl week.
Brady, after all, was the NFL's top-rated passer for a New England team that posted a league-best 14-2 record. He set an NFL record by throwing 335 consecutive passes without an interception. He showed fiery leadership during a memorable victory against Pittsburgh. And when the nation was watching to see whether the New York Jets could make good on their bluster, Brady used the Monday night stage to deliver a 45-3 prime-time beatdown.
Can there be an argument against Brady? Turns out there can be one.
I recently received via Facebook a 769-word dissenting opinion from a San Francisco 49ers fan named “Josh” promoting Peyton Manning for the award. The fan, who shall remain anonymous in case he ever plans a visit to the Northeast, hit on a two basic points:
Brady has more time to throw than other quarterbacks, giving him a significant advantage over Manning and everyone else. Josh: "I watched every 49ers play this season, and I can say that if Alex Smith had ‘Tom Brady’ time to throw, you could almost pencil him in for 25 TDs and 3,000-plus yards every year."
The Patriots went 11-5 without Brady during the 2008 season. Josh: "So, we have actual evidence that New England’s system is one where an average quarterback can look good and a good quarterback can look great and a great quarterback can look elite."
Brady does often benefit from superior protection. The Patriots did go 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback.
Brady still had to make the most of the time he had to throw, and he did. He adapted successfully to changing personnel, turning Deion Branch into an upgrade from Randy Moss. Separately, Cassel's performance in Kansas City this season showed he could succeed without Brady's pass protection or overall support system. And the Chiefs were far from competitive when he missed a game.
Manning could win the award almost every season based upon how much the Colts rely on him. It's just tough to argue with Brady's production -- the touchdowns, the efficiency, the victories, the clutch play. This was his season on those pivotal fronts.