tom brady

Give Torrey Smith an MVP vote

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Give Torrey Smith an MVP vote

Torrey Smith doesn't get an MVP vote, but if he did, we know where it would go. 

He thinks the honor belongs to Carson Wentz. 

In the Eagles' locker room on Thursday, Smith volunteered his opinion that Wentz should be the 2017 NFL MVP, despite Wentz's missing the final three games of the season after with a torn ACL. 

"Absolutely," Smith said. "And I'm biased too. I'll tell you that, I am biased. I think he still should be, even with the missed games. I mean, what he meant to this team, what he was actually able to do and he missed two games. 

"It's pretty crazy. Because he probably wouldn't have played the last game if he was there. He missed two games. Still was right up at the top of everything else. I think it says a lot about him."

Smith actually brings up a good point. Had Wentz not been injured, he very likely wouldn't have played in the regular-season finale anyway, which means his ACL injury forced him to miss only two games in the regular season instead of three. 

Wentz finished his season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes. Only Russell Wilson threw more touchdown passes (34) and it took him all 16 games. Wentz is just 19th in passing yards but fourth in passer rating (101.9) behind just Alex Smith (104.7), Drew Brees (103.9) and Tom Brady (102.8). 

It seems like Wentz's biggest competition for the MVP might be two-time winner Brady, who had another stellar season. 

So why would Smith take Wentz over Brady? 

"Tom Brady's the G.O.A.T. though. He is the G.O.A.T.," Smith said. "But Carson was able to make plays athletically that Tom can't physically do, even though he's the greatest quarterback ever. Carson plays the game differently and what he's meant to us on third down, when he's scrambling, the crazy plays he's made. It's not like he's Vick or anything, but the way he makes those plays, it was huge for us. 

"At times we were struggling and those plays turn into opening the gates. He's made some amazing plays all year. I don't know, put their highlight tapes together and see what you think."

The Eagles haven't had an MVP since Norm Van Brocklin won it back in 1960, so it's been a pretty long wait. 

This year's MVP award will be announced Feb. 3, the day before the Super Bowl. 

Unfortunately, although Smith thinks Wentz deserves the award, he doesn't think he's going to get it. 

"No. Because he missed a couple games," Smith said, "but I think he's the MVP."

Where Nick Foles ranks among 12 playoff QBs

Where Nick Foles ranks among 12 playoff QBs

The dozen quarterbacks whose teams made the playoffs vary in skill level, playoff experience and momentum.

Where does Nick Foles check in among the field, and where would a healthy Carson Wentz have landed? This order was not chosen based on one set metric, age or necessarily past accomplishments. This is also not about how they will be looked at once their careers are over.

1. Tom Brady
This one does not need much explanation. Brady has won five Super Bowls and been to seven. He is also a four-time MVP of the big game. And even at 39, he led the Patriots back to win from a 28-3 deficit in the second half of last year's Super Bowl.

2. Ben Roethlisberger
He's the only QB on the list other than Brady with multiple rings. Roethlisberger has won two. He also plays in an offense with a cadre of weapons, including the one-two punch of Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown (if healthy). He's participated in and won a ton of big postseason games.

3. Drew Brees
Unlike years past, the Saints' offense is not solely dependent on Brees' right arm. New Orleans has the best tandem running attack in football with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. However, Brees still threw for more than 4,000 yards and a 103.9 passer rating at the age of 39. Second-year wideout Michael Thomas is one of the more underrated players in the league, posting more than 1,100 receiving yards in both seasons.

4. Matt Ryan
This is where things tighten up a bit. Ryan's play and numbers have dipped from his 2016 MVP campaign. Kyle Shanahan's departure as the Falcons' offensive coordinator has had a major impact. But Ryan still has Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman and the experience of getting to the big game last year. The big question is are the Falcons and Ryan still suffering from the hangover of that bitter collapse to the Patriots?

5. Cam Newton
Newton's pass-run ability is second to none among the remaining QBs. I put him behind Ryan because of the inconsistency of Carolina's passing game. Newton can look like a world-beater at times with his arm, but too many times his mechanics are off and his decision-making is poor, as evidenced by his 22-16 touchdown-interception ratio. But when he is in a zone, he is brutal to contain.

6. Alex Smith
I know what you're thinking. "This guy is a game manager who hasn't won any big ones." Smith threw for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He also has 12 TDs to just two interceptions in six postseason games. He's better than people give him credit for.

7. Jared Goff
Goff has no playoff experience. However, under the tutelage of first-year head coach Sean McVay, the second-year QB came into his own and proved worthy of being the first overall pick. The Rams will lean heavily on all-world running back Todd Gurley, which will make Goff's first exposure to the postseason much smoother.

8. Case Keenum
Keenum had shuttled between the bench and starting in his previous four seasons in the NFL. But when given a chance this year, he's played extremely well and done more than play not to lose. He also has an excellent trio of receivers in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. People all season have been trying to write Keenum off or send him to the bench when Teddy Bridgewater returned from IR, but all Keenum did was win.

9. Marcus Mariota
The man many Eagles fans wanted during the Chip Kelly era has not quite lived up to the hype. Injuries and inconsistent play have defined Mariota's early career. He threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13) this year but is still a threat with his legs.

10. Nick Foles
Tenth out of 12 does not exactly inspire hope for Eagles fans. I am a firm believer Foles should be the starter in the Eagles' divisional round game and barring injury, we should not see Nate Sudfeld. But there is no other way to spin this: Foles has been terrible since taking the reins from Wentz. He looks scared and hesitant in the pocket and his decision-making has been bad. However, he has started and played well in a playoff game, which should count for something. (I'm trying here.)

11. Tyrod Taylor
I'm not a big fan of either of these last two guys. That said, Taylor has done a decent job this season. He too can make plays with his legs to either move the chains or keep plays alive. The Bills hope to lean heavily on LeSean McCoy, who sprained his ankle in the season finale and is a game-time decision. Any kind of big deficit and the Bills are done.

12. Blake Bortles
The Jaguars' defense is why they are in the postseason. Bortles has been better than he was in years past but that's not saying much. Leonard Fournette and that ferocious defense are the combo-plate for the Jags to advance.

• • •

As for where Wentz would have ranked had he not gotten injured ... 

I would have placed him third behind Brady and Roethlisberger. Wentz doesn't strike me as the type who would have been swallowed up by postseason hype. His command of the Eagles' offense and feel for the NFL lead me to believe he would have thrived in that type of environment. Oh, what could have been.

The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

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The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

The case for Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Corey Seidman)

Prior to Monday Night Football, Bovada listed Tom Brady as the MVP favorite and Carson Wentz was no longer listed. Had the Patriots blown out the Dolphins as many expected, Brady would have surged into the MVP lead.

But he didn't. The Patriots' offense couldn't get anything going, failing to convert a single third down for the first time since 1991.

And even though Brady will probably play three more games this season than Carson Wentz, I still think Wentz can and will win MVP.

There are a bunch of reasons why.

1. Wentz led his team to an 11-2 record and put it in position to clinch the top seed in the conference, and the Eagles don't even have to be perfect the rest of the way to do it.

2. The key play that could end up enabling the Eagles to get home-field advantage through the playoffs was that gutsy touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Which Wentz delivered with a torn ACL. And which set the Eagles' franchise record for TD passes in a season. 

That kind of mystique matters come awards time.

3. Brady was a legitimate contender for the MVP award last season when he played just 12 games because of the four-game suspension. He finished second in MVP voting with 10 votes, behind Matt Ryan's 25.

4. Aside from Wentz and Brady, who are even the top candidates for MVP this season? Russell Wilson? His team isn't even currently in the playoffs. Antonio Brown? A wide receiver has never won MVP, even though Brown is deserving of breaking that trend. If Brown goes off against the Patriots on Sunday, it might make him the frontrunner. 

Standing in his way, however, is the tremendous success of his own teammate, Le'Veon Bell. Bell and Brown each have nine total touchdowns, and Bell has 1,684 yards from scrimmage compared to Brown's 1,518. How would you justify giving it to Brown over his equally deserving teammate?

If one of Brady, Bell or Brown has an enormous game Sunday, they could catapult to the top of the list. But if they have just an average game, Wentz will remain toward the top.

5. Voter fatigue is real with Brady, and this isn't even shaping up to be one of his best seasons. His 105.2 passer rating is just the fifth-highest of his career. His 27-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio is just the fifth-best of his career. His yards per attempt are fourth-best.

• • •

The case against Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Dave Zangaro)

The Eagles haven't had an MVP since the 1960 season, when Norm Van Brocklin took the honor. 

They'll have to wait at least one more season. 

Because when Wentz went down on Sunday night, his MVP chances went too. 

Sure, the Eagles' quarterback had a really good first 13 games. His team went 11-2. He threw for 3,296 yards, with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those are really good numbers. 

But he just didn't play enough. 

The last time an NFL MVP played just 13 or fewer games was 1989, when Joe Montana won his first of two straight. Since then, of the 29 MVPs all 29 have played at least 14 games and 23 of them have played all 16. 

Sure, Brady finished second in MVP voting last season after playing just 12 games. But he didn't win it. And that was after 12 games in which he threw for over 3,500 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His passer rating in those 12 games was 112.2. Wentz's this season was 101.9. 

What's even more notable was that Brady's 12 games in 2016 came in the last 12 games of the season after missing the first four because of suspension. When voting happened, Brady was still on the forefront of everyone's mind, leading his team into the playoffs. Wentz won't be forgotten, but recency has even more pull than mystique in voting. 

And then there are the candidates this year. Brady is the clear frontrunner. He's having another tremendous season. No, he didn't perform well on Monday night, but do you really expect him to not play well down the stretch? 

And the crazy thing about Brady is he's widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but has just two MVP awards. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning has five, while Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre each have three. Brady is tied with Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers with two. 

So in some cases, voter fatigue might be a real thing, but in this case, it would make sense to see Brady get another one. 

Really, the way Wentz's worth to the Eagles would easily be proven is if the Eagles completely collapse down the stretch with Nick Foles. But with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, that seems unlikely. The Eagles win, Wentz loses. 

But there's always next year ... and the year after that.