Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MVPs and LVPs: Week 4


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Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)

If you didn't see Rodgers play on Sunday, then you missed something special. He threw 29 of 38 for 408 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT. Not only was it an impressive air attack, but he also ran for 36 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the only QB in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards and 4 TDs AND run for 2 TDs in a single game. And when asked about it later, Rodgers shrugged it off, saying he didn't feel like it was his best performance. The headlines this year (and rightfully so) have been mostly about the pleasant surprises of the Bills and Lions, but the Packers are 4-0, only 1 of 2 teams to remain undefeated (the other: the Detroit Lions), and Rodgers is still playing in superstar mode (throwing for 1325 yards with 73% accuracy, and an average yards per attempt of 9.4 through 4 games). Even if the rest of the Packers team is struggling, Aaron looks like he capable of carrying this team all the way to another Lombardi Trophy.

Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)

After coming back from injury and sitting out the majority of the first three games of the season, the Texans said that they wanted to limit Foster's carries in his first game back - maybe he would only touch the ball 20-25 times against the run-stuffing Pittsburgh D. Couple that with Ben Tate and the rest of the Texans' running backs doing a good job of running the ball while Foster was out, and you can see why almost everyone assumed that Foster wouldn't turn in one of his best days. But Foster proved them wrong, getting the ball 30 times for 155 yards - not only did he produce, but he looked untouchable, and made the Pittsburgh defense look silly in the process. It seemed like he hadn't been gone at all.

Detroit Lions (The entire team, special distinctions go to the defense and Calvin Johnson)

Once again, the Lions find themselves on my MVP list - and definitely because they deserve it. Last week they came back from a 20 point deficit against the Vikings to win. This week, they overcame a 24 point deficit against the Cowboys with some terrific defensive plays and some fantastic catches by Johnson, who became the first player in NFL history to catch 2 TD passes in each of the first four games of the season, and tied an NFL record by catching 2 TD passes in four straight games. The defense intercepted 3 Tony Romo passes, 2 of which were taken to house. It was one of the most exciting games to watch this weekend, and with the Lions tied with the Packers as the only remaining 4-0 teams left in the NFL, they have certainly gone from an up-and-coming team to a real contender.

Alex Smith/Frank Gore (QB/RB, San Francisco 49ers)

It's a rare treat that anyone from the NFC West ends up on the MVP list, let alone the 49ers, but they played a great game on Sunday, coming from behind to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23. Gore (with the help of some great tackling) ran for 127 yards on 15 carries, and Smith went 21 of 33 for 291 yards for 2 TDs and 0 INTs against the Eagles secondary. They may not be astronomically stellar numbers for Smith, but he kept control of the ball late in the game, and did exactly what the 49ers needed to do to win. Both players had great games, and even though the Eagles imploded on themselves when it mattered most, the 49ers stepped up and handled the Eagles D when they needed to.


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Ronnie Brown (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)

A lot of blame could be placed in several different areas for the Eagles' dramatic loss to the 49ers. But I think Brown's ridiculous mistake not only takes the trophy for boneheaded moves, but also epitomizes the struggles that the Eagles have faced early on in the season. With 7:13 left in the second quarter, Brown was called in when the Eagles were at the 49ers 1-yard line. The goal was simple: run the ball 1 YARD and into the endzone. But when faced with pressure, Brown decided to do the opposite of every other RB in the history of football and would not simply go down with the ball to try another play later. No, on his way down to the ground, Ronnie decided to try to PASS the ball backwards to see if someone else could pick it up and run it in. Only problem was, no one else knew he was planning to do that; the play was a fumble, and the 49ers recovered it on the 4 yard line.

Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie. Seriously? That is literally the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you do in that scenario. Brown said after the game that the play was meant to be a run/pass option, but once you start to run the ball, I don't think anyone is looking for you to pass it anymore, especially to pass it backwards to no one. The Eagles had a lot of other things to worry about after that game, but the one thing they shouldn't have to worry about is stupid mistakes like that on their best team that money can buy.

Tony Romo (QB, Dallas Cowboys)

It's certainly been an up-and-down season for Romo so far, especially with regard to my MVP/LVP list. An LVP in Week 1, Romo followed that with an MVP worthy performance in Week 2, and a good game in Week 3. Now, Romo finds himself on my LVP list after helping the Lions overcome the 27-3 lead that his Cowboys had in that game. My criticism remains roughly the same as Week 1: he needs to make better decisions when the Cowboys are in the lead. He threw 3 INTs, two of which were taken back for TDs, to help the Lions win that game and suck all of the confidence out of the Cowboys. Romo needs to find a groove and stick with it, because if he keeps being this erratic, he'll never be able to get his team to the Super Bowl.

Joe Flacco/Mark Sanchez (QBs, Baltimore Ravens/New York Jets)

This was an interesting game to watch defensively. Offensively...not so much. It seemed like there was a turnover on every other play. Both QBs played terribly (Flacco only had a 32% completion rate and threw 0 TDs and 1 INT, while Sanchez had a 31% completion rate and also threw 0 TDs and 1 INT), and both were the leading point producers for the opposing team. Not much else needs to be said. This game should have been better than that. I couldn't decide which one to put, so I thought they both deserved to be on here.

Marion Barber (RB, Chicago Bears)

His inclusion on this list is not because of how he played on Sunday. In fact, kudos to Barber for scoring his first TD as a member of the Bears. But if you're gonna celebrate a TD, make sure you can do the celebration before you try. Or a least don't forget to stretch first.


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