They were all better than the first-ever unanimous NFL MVP, Tom Brady, in 2010.
That's at least according to Pro Football Focus, a website aimed "to provide the most in-depth, accurate and thought-provoking information on professional football player performance available on the web." The site listed the 101 best NFL players from 2010 this week, and the biggest surprise was seeing Brady listed at No. 33.
Brady threw for 3,900 yards while completing 65.9 percent of his passes. He threw 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions, with the 9-to-1 ratio shattering his own NFL record for best TD-to-INT ratio in history (previously 6.25-to-1). He also led the Patriots to a 14-2 record, despite a midseason trade of Randy Moss, one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play football.
Yet, Pro Football Focus, which breaks down every single play of every single game of the NFL season and grades players accordingly, wasn't overly impressed.
The author, Khaled Elsayed, knew Brady's placement was sure to raise some eyebrows, so rather than leave anything up for interpretation, here is Elsayed's explanation in its entirety:
"Oh brother. This is going to take some reasoning. And let me start by saying I'm not trying to be controversial, nor am I anti-Brady. He's a great player and he did a tremendous job of what was asked of him. And if this was a look at the 100 most valuable players, he'd be a lot higher up. But it's not, and I'll go back to that point about what was asked of him. I heard a Pats fan use a great analogy, that Brady got the highest mark in school test, but the test he took was easier than everyone else's. It doesn't mean he wouldn't or couldn't score the highest mark, just that the playing field was different. Not buying that reasoning? Okay, it was the dancing from that carnival."
The description also adds that Brady's receivers dropped 46 of his passes, meaning his numbers could have (and should have) been even better. Yet, Brady ranked 33rd, and he ranked as the sixth-best quarterback, behind Drew Brees (23), Peyton Manning (18), Philip Rivers (12), Matt Ryan (8), Aaron Rodgers (1). Mind you, this is from a season in which he was deemed by every single person with a vote to be the very best player to strap on a helmet on Sundays.
Now, if this were just some run-of-the-mill blog looking to stir some controversy, it could be dismissed as foolish, or thoughtless, or meaningless. But it's not. Pro Football Focus is no joke, and its thoughts and insights are valued highly in the football world.
Still, the description on the site leaves a lot to be desired, and as a result, the site's Twitter feed has been asked to explain the placement. Below are a few explanations.
"Still maintain he was far poorer than the hype and stats. Or more accurately was doing far less than others."
"Brady could probably have done what Manning/Rodgers/Ryan/Rivers etc. did last season, but he didn't, and wasn't asked to."
"Bottom line — as we've always said — if anyone wants to go through a game play by play and then argue, we're all for it. Nobody does. Grade a Brady game from last season, then grade a Manning/Rivers/Rodgers one. Difference will be clear. Watching isn't the same as grading. We all started off watching too, there's a reason it now takes 15 [hours to grade one game]."
"NE offense works superbly, far more sums of its parts than others. Doesnt need Brady to carry them, so less is asked of him."
It's also important to remember that during Brady's remarkable interceptionless streak, which lasted for 335 consecutive pass attempts, there were several passes that hit defenders in the hands (Charles Woodson and Tyjuan Hagler immediately come to mind). That's just one instance of how statistics, particularly in football, can be misleading. PFF has also said that it does not factor numbers into grades.
But still, most New Englanders and most football fans in general could probably understand how, when graded in various areas for each and every play, Tom Brady may not rank No. 1. But No. 33? That won't ever be understood or accepted by most people who don't have 240 spare hours to break down film.
Mark this one down under "agree to disagree."
And who knows? Maybe 10 years from now, Brady will sit down for a television interview and recall with tears streaming down his face the day he saw he was ranked as the 33rd-best player in the NFL.
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