Mike Sando's MVP Watch
September, 28, 2011
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireAaron Rodgers has thrown eight touchdown passes and just one interception for the 3-0 Packers.Aaron Rodgers' ascension to the top spot in the weekly MVP Watch requires no rationalization.
The Green Bay Packers are the undefeated reigning Super Bowl champions. Rodgers is their best player, the Super Bowl MVP.
Esquire has taken note by declaring, "In fact, what distinguishes Aaron Rodgers is not his decision making, which, though impeccable, is in the mortal realm. It's his sheer giftedness -- his economic brand of elusiveness matched with a talent for throwing the damned ball that is the equal of Dan Marino's, Warren Moon's, or (hey, why not?) Brett Favre's."
That is good enough for us after Tom Brady, the MVP Watch leader through Week 2, inexplicably tossed four interceptions in losing to Buffalo. Brady lost ground to Rodgers, who is now on pace for 43 touchdowns with three interceptions, and Drew Brees, whose only defeat came against Rodgers' Packers in a memorable season opener.
Seeing some combination of Rodgers, Brees and Brady atop an MVP list comes almost as a matter of course. Matthew Stafford's inclusion at No. 4 was at least remotely foreseeable given heightened expectations for the Detroit Lions this season. But three names on the list this week -- Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson, plus Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck -- once would have seemed utterly unfathomable as candidates to anyone outside (and probably inside) their immediate families.
There are as many Buffalo Bills in the running as Packers, Patriots and Steelers combined. And the best quarterback in the AFC South right now plays in Nashville, not Indy. Hasselbeck, never known for sheer arm strength, is improbably among the NFL leaders (first in QBR, third in NFL passer rating) on throws delivered outside the yard-line numbers.
"It's early, of course, but Hasselbeck's playing like a guy capable of transforming a franchise," AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky observed.
With Hasselbeck, Fitzpatrick, Dallas' Tony Romo and Oakland's Darren McFadden emerging as MVP Watch-worthy, there wasn't room for every qualified candidate.
NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert rightfully asks whether any non-quarterback has had a greater impact on his team than Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Anyone watching the Cowboys knows the same could be said for the incomparable DeMarcus Ware. The way Joe Flacco lit up the St. Louis Rams caught my attention as well.