Category Archives: NFL

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THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME IS ABOUT TO HAVE A SERIOUS LOG JAM: WR EDITION

Jay C. Brandriet

12/4/17

The old saying has often been “too many guy’s get into the Hall of Fame”. The new truth is, not enough players are getting that call. We have so much more information about today’s athletes and the history of the NFL than ever before. An average of six men per year have been inducted over the past 20 seasons. That comes across as a reasonable number. If you look behind the curtain, a log jam is taking place. Looking at the category of receiver only, I think this group of retired players all have a compelling case to be in.

Proudly from the University of Utah, Smith was a punt and kick return star in his early NFL days.

 

 RETIRED RECEIVERS THAT DESERVE TO BE IN THE HALL: 

 

RANDY MOSS: “Freak”.  Legend.  His go up and get it, and ball skills were a ten. Many fans would say Moss is the most talented wide receiver they have ever seen.

 

TERRELL OWENS: His initial power off the line of scrimmage was intense. It’s obvious T. O.  is a  Hall of Famer( just ask him)! Owens work ethic, skill, and level of dominance attained are all top shelf historically.

 

CALVIN JOHNSON: Johnson was the ultimate specimen to ever play wide receiver. I remember a few late game situations where “Megatron” was triple covered by Cowboys players. Each time the ball was in the air, it felt like the odds were 60 percent in his favor…. Calvin caught all three of them.

 

DREW PEARSON:  Pearson was the NFC’s best receiver in the 1970’s. He is widely considered one of the greatest clutch players in football history.

 

CLIFF BRANCH: An elegant yards per catch guy, Branch is the only Raider to play on all three title teams. At the time of his retirement he ranked number one in total post season catches and yardage.

 

HINES WARD: His Pittsburgh Steelers team records speak volumes. Ward has two rings and a Super Bowl MVP. His niche of being an all time great blocker helps get him in.

 

ISAAC BRUCE: His 80 yard TD grab was the go ahead score in Super Bowl 34. Bruce does not have near the name he should for how awesome he was. He’s like his generations Art Monk.

 

STERLING SHARPE: Sharpe did not miss a game in his seven years. His career ended after a serious neck injury following a season where he scored 18 times. At his best, Sharpe was in the same class as Irvin, Carter, Reed, and Tim Brown.

 

TORRY HOLT: His routes were precise and his hands were like football magnets. From 2000-2009 Holt’s 868 receptions and 12, 594 yards are the highest totals, for any decade in league history.

 

REGGIE WAYNE: Reggie was a steady pro who likely left a HOF resume on the field. He played in 21 post season games. At the time of his retirement, no player had more receiving yardage versus Bill Belichick led teams.

 

ANQUAN BOLDIN: I watched every snap of his first pro game at Detroit. He had 217 beast like yards. Boldin was eventually the go to guy on a world champion. He played a month after having seven plates and 40 screws put in his face.

 

STEVE SMITH: Nobody wore that chip on the shoulder better than Steve Smith. He was so fierce, and was one of the top playmakers of his generation. He’d catch it, pivot the other direction and it would look like he was part of the field.

 

ANDRE JOHNSON: Some guys should simply be awarded in the category of “what was your level while you played”? Johnson was elite at his job. Three times he had 1, 500 plus yard seasons.

 

RECEIVERS THAT STILL DESERVE A LOOK:

Chad Johnson

Rod Smith

Gary Clark

Harold Carmichael

Henry Ellard

Otis Taylor

Wes Welker

Larry Fitzgerald will be a first ballot guy when he’s done. Guys like Antonio Brown can think ahead to how the yellow jacket may fit them. The game will continue to be full of volume passing totals. More receivers are getting in this long line to be recognized. Who else deserves to be on my list?

 

 

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ELI MANNING IS A WEIRD LEVEL OF GREATNESS

Jay C. Brandriet

11/30/17

The New York Giants (2-9) have benched Eli Manning for the rest of the year to look at younger players. This has caused quite a stir, and a reason for everyone to judge Manning’s career.  As a Dallas Cowboys fan, my job is to “hate” Eli. I truly have thought of his interceptions to put myself to sleep a few times. I can picture each pick, like cute little sheep.

Eli did not have the talent of division rivals McNabb or Romo. Those guys want Manning’s trophy case.

 

From a family of football royalty, it comes across like Eli has always been fighting through shadows. He doesn’t have the skills his father had. The only time he has ever been better at football than his brother Peyton, is right now.

Who has ever thought of him as top three QB at any point? Top five? Bueller? This guy is very hard to rank among the best that ever played.

Manning has three seasons of disgusting interception totals (20, 25, and 27).  He would turn the ball over and have this mopey expression that would annoy Giants fans to no end. I can see him unsnapping his chin strap to a chorus of New York boo birds as he walked to the sideline. Tiki Barber said he would follow a young Manning off the field yelling “posture matters”!

Eli is very good. He is tough, durable, smart, and above all clutch. Some will claim “Eli threw a couple lucky passes to win his two Super Bowls.” That’s garbage!

In the 2007 post season, he beat a Cowboys squad with 13 Pro Bowlers on the road. Number ten then out clutched Brett Favre in extreme temperature in Green Bay.

Manning then played a huge role in the biggest NFL upset of my lifetime. That Patriots team came in 18-0, and WOULD HAVE been considered the best single season team of all time.

Eli won a second ring and Super Bowl MVP a few years later. Let’s not under do that his teams beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady TWICE when it mattered most.

This guy is a class act. He  will end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. First ballot? Probably not…Eli Manning a weird level of greatness.

THE LEVEL TONY ROMO HIT IN 2014, LEFT RESPECT ON HIS LEGACY

With a broken back, Romo put on a clutch clinic in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay C. Brandriet

4/25/17

Tony Romo leaves the game of football as one of its most polarizing characters. He was all time talented, and highly criticized. Some of the heat was fair because he and his teams did not win enough big games. He also could melt down with the best of them over his first seven seasons. Truth is, Romo’s overrated Cowboys teams helped him become the most underrated quarterback of his generation. While he had a handful of star level seasons, 2014 was his finest work. This was the best offensive team he ever played on. This effort was more than just Romo’s remarkable peak. You’ll soon agree it was one of the most efficient, clutch seasons in the 97 year history of the National Football League.

SETTING THE SCENE

Tony was coming into 2014 off his second back surgery in as many years. He was now 34 years old and his health was a major question mark for the first time in his career. He was held out of practice on Wednesday’s all year long. Dallas had the worst defense in the league the previous season. This Cowboys team was “expected” to win 7 games.

In the season opener at home I didn’t expect Romo to have his legs. He struggled to push the ball down the field. He threw three first half picks. The 49ers had their way with the Cowboys 28-17.

Week 2 at Tennessee. I thought Tony’s body looked stiff and his ball was coming out wobbly. He was like a shell of the young, spry athlete he once was. It went overlooked because Dallas won, number nine did not turn it over, and the ground game was elite.

Week 3 at St. Louis. After Romo throws a pick six late in the second quarter, It’s 21-3 Rams. In that moment, this season was looking very bleak for Tony and his team.

Week 8  vs the Redskins. Romo receives a knee in the back. The result was two fractured transverse process and a cracked rib. He comes back to play late in the game in an eventual Redskins victory. He misses the next week (28-17 loss to Arizona). He comes back 12 days later in a flak jacket.

WINNING/LOSING/CLUTCH

(These are the three areas every QB is harshly judged in the ultimate team sport).

Romo was 12-3 as a starter. (League best winning percentage).

He was 8-0 on the road.  (Fourth QB to accomplish this. Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, and Joe Montana did it twice).

With the NFC East crown at stake, the Colts were the Cowboys opponent. Romo was on fire, converting on 16 straight passes. He had 4 touchdown strikes in a 42-7 route. Tony finished 18-20. It was only the 24th time in NFL history a player completed 90 percent of his attempts.

Playoff game vs Detroit: The best defense in the league belonged to these Lions. They beat Tony down and sacked him six times. Detroit was up 20-7 with under three minutes left in the third quarter. Romo made multiple plays in crunch time and hit Terrance Williams for the game winner.

Playoff game at Green Bay: Tony goes 15-19 throwing the ball. With four plus minutes remaining, Dallas was down five points on the 33 yard line. The intense situation was fourth down and two. On an incredibly daring play, Romo threw a beautiful ball 35 yards down the field. He gave Dez Bryant the right opportunity. Things did not work out, and the Packers advanced to the NFC championship game.

The Cowboys faced a deficit in 13 of his 17 games.

Tony tied for a league high, five game winning drives.

He had a passer rating of 133.7 in December. The best mark of all time for the month.

His completion percentage in December was 74.8%, the second best mark ever for the month.

Over the last six games (4 reg season, 2 playoffs) his TD to pick ratio was 16/1.

When trailing, in the last four minutes of games…Romo was 11 of 15 passing. This included seven first downs, three touchdowns, and zero picks.

DOMINANCE

Look at where Romo finished in the following crucial categories:

Number one in passer rating (113.2). (Only six seasons have ever been better).

Number one in QBR (81.5).

Number one in completion percentage (69.9). (Only seven seasons have ever been better).

Number one in yards per attempt (8.5).

Number one in touchdown percentage. He threw a td pass on 7.8% of his throws.

Only player to ever have six games in a season with a rating over 135.0.

From week two of the season to the Cowboys  second playoff game, Romo had 37 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions.

HONORS/PERSPECTIVE

NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December

He was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl.

Named Second-Team All-Pro

Finished in third place for NFL Most Valuable Player (with teammate DeMarco Murray).

This was a competitive MVP race. Aaron Rodgers may be the most talented QB ever, and was a fine choice as the winner. JJ Watt was in his most dominant form. DeMarco was a beast, and helped muddy the voting waters. Tom Brady’s legend was also in the mix.

Tony didn’t sniff a Super Bowl ring. I think he will come up short of the Hall of Fame. He never got the credit for the heavy lifting he did for mostly average teams. He was a low-level star with issues, not the bum many painted him to be. There is a reason this QB himself, and his fans can be at peace. For an 18 game window in 2014, nobody on earth played professional football better than Tony Romo did. Respect that.

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE NIGHT ODELL MADE THAT CATCH

 

Jay C. Brandriet

9/28/16

As a fan opposing Beckham that night, a catch that like that made me accept the moments pain easier.
Even as a fan opposing Odell that night, a catch that like that made me accept the moments pain easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was Sunday night, November 23rd 2014. The Dallas Cowboys had come to Metlife Stadium to take on their rival the New York Giants. Early in the second quarter Eli Manning threw a deep ball and what happened next was amazing. Beckham Jr. snagged the ball out of the air like Spider-Man. This 43 yard touchdown was better than spectacular. I remember appreciating it while being disgusted at the same time. It put the Giants up 14 to 3. This play is a big deal two years later. I think it deserves the hype, and remains one of the great catches I have ever seen in the NFL.

However, I’m a Cowboys fan.The Odell grab is so celebrated and replayed, It’s often used to mock Brandon Carr and the Dallas defense. Please remember how this contest ended. Tony Romo completed six straight passes on his teams final drive. Dez Bryant caught the go ahead score with a minute to play. Unbelievable catch Beckham. You are scary good. My biggest memory from that night was the final score. Cowboys 31 Giants 28.

MY 2015 NFL REGULAR SEASON MVP’S

Jay C. Brandriet     1/14/16

This is an award always slanted towards offensive players that touch the ball.
My 2015 NFL MVP’s:

#5- Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)Brown is a route improviser, and an elite special teams guy. He played over one quarter of the year without Roethlisberger, yet compiled 136 catches and 1,834 yards. The 5-10, 180 pound Brown has become the most productive, and maybe best receiver in the game.

#4- Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)–  Good for you Carson Palmer. Coming off an ACL tear at age 35, he answered with his best showing in the pros. He led everyone in total QBR (82.1) and yards per attempt (8.7). He played in all 16 games and won 13 of them. Palmer is now, arguably, one of the 30 best quarterbacks over the last three decades in the NFL.

Over the last seven contests of the year, Wilson threw a ridiculous 24 touchdowns to 1 interception.
Over the last seven contests of the year, Wilson threw a ridiculous 24 touchdowns to 1 interception.

#3- Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)–  Wilson has taken an already established game to another level. The knack for making the timely play remains and he’s showing off more skills in the passing game. He led the league with 110.1 passer rating and he casually rushed for 553 yards. He is a star whose all time status is on the rise. Russell’s leadership and play making spear head a scary as they come 10-6 team.


#2- Tom Brady
(New England Patriots) Brady spit on “deflategate” this season. His play over a large portion of the year was only a reminder he’s much closer to the greatest ever than a cheater. Tom rolls out of bed and goes 36 to 7 in touchdown to interception ratio, racks up 4,770 yards and gathers his 13th AFC East crown. He performed to this level with many injuries on the offensive side of the ball.

Newton exudes confidence and his game proves it.

#1- Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) That annoying swagger he has when he is whipping your team, is the fuel that led to a league best 15-1 record. Cam used to be a little high and low throwing the ball, now he’s hitting third down and 23 with precision. His 35 touchdowns to 10 picks are nice. Factor in his 10 rushing scores and 14 straight victories, Cam Newton is the clear 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player.

 

 

 

THE 30 BEST QUARTERBACKS I’VE SEEN PLAY IN THE NFL

I’m only rating the quarterbacks that I have seen play near or at their best in my time watching football. These will only be players from the mid 1980’s to 2015. I saw the great Dan Fouts for example (Jim Plunkett, Danny White, Joe Theismann), but will not include him in this ranking. I did not see him enough or at his best. Active players on this list remain in position to climb it. These are the 30 best quarterbacks I’ve watched play in the National Football League as of February 2015.

JUST MISSED THE CUT: (Bernie Kosar, Dave Krieg, Matt Hasselbeck)

Luck is like the coolest, baddest, nerd ever.
Luck is the coolest, baddest, nerd ever.

#30– RUSSELL WILSON (Active) Three years ago I would not have guessed Wilson would have got my attention this early in his career. He has a knack for making plays at the right time. After throwing an interception to lose the Super Bowl, I would trust his attitude and self security to bounce back more than any player in pro football.

#29– MATTHEW STAFFORD (Active) Stafford has left me with some painful memories burning the Cowboys late in games. He gets rid of the ball at all kinds of odd angles. His banner season to date was 2011 where he passed for 5,038 yards and 41 scores.

#28– MATT RYAN (Active) His first pass a professional was a 62 yard touchdown. Ryan has been a star caliber player since and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. In only seven seasons he has 27 game winning drives.

#27– MARK BRUNELL (1994-2011) Mark was a mobile lefty who was sneaky good. He helped his Jaguars upset the Denver Broncos in the 1996 playoffs and was also part of a team that won a post season contest 62-7. Brunell played in three pro bowls.

#26– MICHAEL VICK (Active) Vick is the most dynamic runner to have ever played QB in the NFL. It seemed like he could run for eight yards on accident. For a short period of time, I thought Michael was one of the 10 best players in the entire league.

#25– ANDREW LUCK (Active) Andrew was a lock for stardom from day one. He’s bright, hungry, and has powerful legs. It is obvious he can make every throw and is a team first guy.

#24– RICH GANNON (1987-2004) Rich was a solid QB before he exploded for 105 touchdown passes over four seasons as an Oakland Raider. He ran the west coast offense beautifully and is the only athlete to ever be the player of the game at the Pro Bowl in back to back seasons.

#23– JOE FLACCO (Active) Flacco is a nice deep ball thrower who has already proven his big game credentials with 10 playoff wins. In his 2012 world title run he tossed 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Romo has the second best, fourth quarter passer rating (102.2) in NFL history.
Romo has the second best, fourth quarter passer rating (102.2) in NFL history.

#22– PHIL SIMMS (1979-1993) Phil was part role player part star. His 22-25 passing performance in Super Bowl 21 remains the standard for completion percentage. It seems forgotten he was 11-3 as a starter before getting hurt in 1990. He set the table for another New York Giants championship.

#21– BOOMER ESIASON (1984-1997) Boomer was the first guy to use the no huddle offense for consistent stretches. He had a cool play fake where he would crouch low. Esiason helped the 1988 Bengals win the American Football Conference and he was named the NFL Most Valuable Player.

#20– RANDALL CUNNINGHAM (1985-2001) Randall was one of the most exotic talents to step on a field. He was an MVP Caliber player as a dual threat at the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Cunningham was at the top of his game as a pass first player a decade later leading the explosive Minnesota Vikings inches from an NFC crown.

#19– TONY ROMO (Active) Romo’s ability to escape defenders and extend plays is all time great. Tony was named “NFL Offensive Player of the Month” for December in 2009 and 2014. Even Romo’s  biggest critics praise his toughness.

#18– PHILLIP RIVERS (Active) He annoys you if he’s against you, and you would love him if he was yours. Rivers is full of grit and competitive juice. Over his time in the NFL he has been the best of the second tier QB stars. He has quietly been building a resume that has a chance to become Hall of Fame worthy.

I will never forget McNair's tenacity on a Super Bowl drive that ended a yard short.
I will never forget McNair’s tenacity on a Super Bowl drive that ended a yard short.

#17– DREW BLEDSOE (1993-2006) The Patriots had made the playoffs six times in 33 years before Bledsoe arrived. In his first five years they made the post season three times including a trip to Super Bowl 31. He stepped in for a hurt Tom Brady in the 2001 AFC Championship game to make help ensure his presence was felt in this modern New England dynasty.

#16– STEVE MCNAIR (1995-2007) Steve had a stout presence in the pocket and threw the ball with ease. He worked around lack of practice due to injuries better than anyone.

#15– DONOVAN MCNABB (1999-2011) McNabb rolling to the right on third and seven was a scary sight. He was an intelligent and crafty playmaker. He carried offensive units most of his career.

#14– ELI MANNING (Active) Manning was the most difficult player for me to rank. He is the owner of two of the sharpest post season runs in league history. Beating the 18-0 Patriots was the top upset of any NFL game in my lifetime. Eli is almost more clutch than he is good.

#13– WARREN MOON (1984-2000) Moon was not drafted by an NFL team so he tore up Canada instead. Even after losing years due to discrimination, Warren Moon lit up the National Football League. He was the smooth operator of the Houston Oilers run and shoot offense in the early 1990’s. He had a loud clear cadence and embarrassed those that doubted him by finding a permanent home in Canton Ohio.

#12– JIM KELLY (1986-1996) Jim played in the K-Gun offense in which he called his own plays. He was linebacker tough. Losing in four consecutive Super Bowls is an amazing, under respected achievement by his Buffalo Bills teams.

When Elway was being doubted by fans, he was the best clutch player in the AFC.
John had the definition of a  rifle arm.

#11– KURT WARNER (1998-2009) Kurt was 1-2 in Super Bowls but owns the three highest passing yard efforts in the games history. Getting the Arizona Cardinals within a couple of minutes of a world title ensured his prominent place among passers.

#10– BEN ROETHLISBERGER (Active) Fans tend to mention that Ben played poorly in his first Super Bowl victory. They forget that he led the Steelers to three straight playoff road wins. During that stretch he completed 68% of his passes to go with seven touchdowns and one pick. “Big Ben” also made a game saving tackle at Indianapolis in the Divisional round.

#9– TROY AIKMAN (1989-2000) Legendary broadcaster Pat Summerall loved to gush over Aikman’s accuracy. Troy could throw the deep out with his eyes closed. He sacrificed his stats for footballs best running game. It paid off with three rings, a Super Bowl MVP, and a 13-4 record as a playoff starter.

#8– DREW BREES (Active) The Saints were in Dallas Thanksgiving day 2010. The Cowboys were up 27 to 23 with three plus minutes remaining. My stepdaughter texts me, “Cowboys are gonna win.” I wrote back, “Three minutes is a lifetime for Drew Brees.” Drew completed a 55 yard pass, followed by a 12 yard touchdown to win the game 30-27. Some guys are just too good to ever let you get comfortable.

#7– AARON RODGERS (Active) Aaron carries himself with the appropriate arrogance for his job description. He’s agile, with an accurate whip for a right arm. In the 2015 post season he led his team to victory on essentially one leg. As a move to throw talent, Rodgers is the best I’ve ever seen play the position.

#6– BRETT FAVRE (1991-2010) Brett was entertaining television. He had the enthusiasm of a young child and the swagger of Han Solo walking into a bar fight. Favre was a gunslinger to the core and earned the recognition of being an iron man. Counting the playoffs, Brett played in an incredible 321 straight games.

#5– DAN MARINO (1983-1999) Nobody had a cat quick release like Dan. He also manipulated the pocket with the best of them.  NFL Films co creator Steve Sabol said, “Watching Marino in the pocket was like watching a great matador. With just a little bend of the waste, a jab step forward, a step back, he could avoid the horns.”

#4– STEVE YOUNG (1985-1999) What Dan Marino was to yardage and touchdown passes, Steve Young was to completion percentage and passer rating. He was a superior athlete who had no peer regarding clean, efficient play. Steve was consumed with the mental test the game of football provided. In the end he received an A plus.

#3– PEYTON MANNING (Active) Manning has made himself the face of preparation and in-game chess play. The five time MVP gets sacked less than any QB who has played. Peyton is smashing the NFL record books. You know you are unbelievable at football when you have 70,000 passing yards, 530 touchdown passes, a world title, and fans say you need to do more.

This Thanksgiving (2015) I'll consider Brady the best QB to ever play.
I’m projecting by this Thanksgiving (2015) I’ll consider Brady the best QB to ever play.

#2– JOHN ELWAY (1983-1998) Before winning consecutive rings to end his career many people claimed John was a “choker.” What I saw was a guy carry three pretty good Denver teams to Super Bowl losses while being the best clutch player in the AFC. Elway had the strongest arm I’ve seen and could throw the ball 50 yards across his body to the opposite side of the field.

#1– JOE MONTANA (1979-1993) & TOM BRADY (Active) This tie is not a cop-out on my part or an excuse to mention 31 quarterbacks. The selection is perfect for me right now. Montana has always been the clear-cut best QB of my lifetime. The morning of Super Bowl 49, I had Tom Brady a close second. After Tom’s dynamite fourth quarter, and taking home his fourth World Championship, I feel Brady deserves to  be categorized as Joe Montana’s equal. Joe moved much better than Tom. Brady has been more durable and prolific. Joe played on slightly better, more dominant teams. Tom won big over a longer window of time with a higher variety of teammates. Joe was cool and Tom was fiery. They were the same guy from the neck up and the two best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen play in the National Football League.

 

Jay C. Brandriet  2/24/15

Contributor: Jessee Nikol

MY 2014 NFL REGULAR SEASON MVP’S

This years NFL MVP  takes on a little more interest than most years. No player ran away with it and several guys deserve mention. To win this honor you need to have played for a team with a winning record. It’s an award slanted towards rewarding offensive skill position players. The following rankings are only for performances and circumstances in the 2014 NFL regular season. My 2014 NFL Most Valuable Player’s:

#12– Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers ) He has a nice hesitation step, and skips like a rock on water. Bell’s 1,361 yards  led the AFC and are the most ever recorded without a fumble. Le’Veon carried the Pittsburgh offense down the stretch with his versatility. His 83 catches glued the Steelers offense together.

#11– Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) Lynch has become the model power back of his generation. He sets the offensive tone for the defending world champions. When “Beast Mode” gets loose on long runs his team and fans get jolts of energy. Marshawn made more trips to the end zone (17) than any other player.

#10– Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) He visualizes himself having success on the field, and I keep seeing his positive results. Wilson has a knack for making timely plays. He reeks of intangibles and self security.  To be 16th in overall rushing is impressive. His 7.2 yards per carry average was by far the best among the leading 40 rushers.

#9– Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) The future Hall of Famer keeps carving teams up. Big Ben continues to shed defenders and is getting the ball out quicker. He set a Steelers record with 4,952 yards to go with 32 touchdowns to just 9 picks. In back to back victories over Baltimore and Indianapolis Ben put up a stunning 12 touchdowns, 862 yards, and zero interceptions.

#8– Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers) The 5-10, 180 lb. Brown just torched pro football. His 129 catches are second most in league history and his 1,698 yards are sixth. Brown adjusts nicely to deep balls and makes nice concentration grabs. In the Division title game Antonio scored on a 71 yard punt return and a 63 yard TD catch with three minutes left to seal the deal for the Steelers.

#7– Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) Luck is full of heart, brains, and leg strength. He’s like the coolest nerd ever. Andrew won 11 games for the third straight year. Luck topped everyone with 40 touchdown passes and 10, 300 yard plus outings.

Murray and Romo were both dominant in 2014. This hurt their chances to win the award.
Murray and Romo were both dominant in 2014. The offensive line and Dez Bryant were huge factors  on the team. This hurt  both of their chances to win the award.

#6– Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) The story line regarding Manning this season ended up being about his advanced age, the slippage of his velocity, and some late year bruises. All he did was win 12 games, and throw for 4,780 yards and 39 touchdowns. He’s still the games best conductor and can almost think the ball to guys. When it comes to the way Peyton is judged, he is a victim of his own success.

#5– DeMarco Murray (Dallas Cowboys) Murray put on a show of endurance and toughness in 2014. The team was deliberate giving DeMarco the ball and he responded by having a record-breaking season. His 392 carries and a franchise high 1,845 yards were the identity of this years Dallas Cowboys. He added 12, 100 yard games and made the NFL All-Pro First Team. Murray playing five days after hand surgery was inspiration to his team blowing out the Colts to win the NFC Eastern crown.

Brady is an amazing 160-47 as a regular season starter.
Brady is an amazing 160-47 as a regular season starter.

#4– Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys) Romo played his finest ball in 2014. He led the NFL in QBR, passer rating, completion percentage and was 12-3 as a starter. Tony was by far the best quarterback in second halfs, on the road, and in December. His 133.7 passer rating in December was the highest total in the history of the month. He’s now embarrassed a league that did not draft him.

#3– Tom Brady (New England Patriots) After getting beat down by the Chiefs in week five, a large portion of the media yelled out that Brady was done and the Patriots had not provided him with adequate help. All Tom did is lead his team to seven straight wins that started off with a touchdown ratio of 18-1. The bridge to the season was built, and once again the AFC road to the Super Bowl goes through New England. Tom Brady is a football legend, who is not done chasing the title of “greatest ever.”

#2– J.J. WATT (Houston Texans) A defensive player on a non playoff team must crash this party. Watt is the best defensive lineman since Reggie White. It’s fair to say his current level is not just being the best pro player on D, but the best in the league every Sunday. J.J. is a grid iron warrior who can do it all. He finished the campaign with 20.5 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries and 5 touchdowns.

Rodgers is the best run to throw talent I've ever seen play quarterback.
Rodgers is the best run to throw talent I’ve ever seen play quarterback.

#1– Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)  Rodgers reminds me that you want your pilot, surgeon, and QB to be cocky.  His 38 touchdowns to 5 interceptions speaks for itself. The Packers finished undefeated at home behind his 25 TD’s and zero picks. Coming back from a calf injury in the season finale to beat Detroit for the NFC North title was a good look. Rodgers is the best skill position player in football. In the end, he was the easiest player to justify as my 2014 NFL MVP.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

1-3-15