A few weeks ago I posted an article wondering if it was realistic to consider RG3 as a contender for league MVP. My conclusion was, well, while it’s a nice idea, it’s probably a bit unrealistic when looking at the other contenders.
At the time, the Redskins were 3-4 coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Giants. Things didn’t get any better the next two weeks after consecutive disappointing losses to the Steelers and the (then) one win Panthers, prompting Head Coach Mike Shanahan to suggest the rest of the season would be for evaluation. Was this a slip up or a stroke of genius? It has certainly seemed to have stimulated a strong, determined effort from the players.
The bye week followed the Carolina defeat with the Redskins standing at 3-6, all but out of the playoff race but RG3 insisted the team would be better after the well needed rest. He wasn’t wrong.
Three straight division wins have seen the Giants’ lead cut to just one game with four to play. On paper the Redskins appear to have the “easier” finish and with another two divisional games to come appear to be peaking at the right time. Could it come down to a “winner takes all” game against the Cowboys at FedEx on 30th December? What a game and atmosphere that would be!
My assessment of RG3’s MVP statistical credentials five games ago suggested he was lacking in the TD pass category. He answered that by tossing four six-pointers in consecutive games, the first rookie ever to do this, and in the three games since the bye, he has increased his total to 17 in 12 games. This equates to 22.7 over the whole season and with only four picks so far, he is tied with perennial MVP candidate Tom Brady for fewest picks amongst regular starters, equivalent to 5.3 over 16 games.
|Week 7||Griffin III||304/432||70.4||3659||16/7||7|
|Week 13||Griffin III||291/433||67.1||3547||23/5||8|
Looking at his pro rata stats now over a full 16 game season and you see his completion percent and yardage have slipped slightly, mainly due to his modest stats in Monday night’s win over the Giants, but his TD and interception percents have both improved and his QB rating is now third in the league behind only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. This suggests he is improving weekly, making better decisions, and all this despite the league now having plenty of film of him controlling the Redskins offense.
It has to be said that he has had help though during the three game winning streak. Alfred Morris has rushed for 313 yards during those three games and the defense, while still giving up a lot of yards, has conceded 6, 31 and 16 points, or 17.7 points per game, including just three points in the second half to the defending Super Bowl champs. Twice in the last three games we conceded less than 20 points compared to zero times in the first nine games. Early in the season 17 points would not have been enough to win a game, but the Redskins defense made a stand in the fourth quarter, and the offense was able to run out the final 3m 11s of the game to ensure it was.
So how is Griffin’s competition doing since week 7? I think you need to add Tom Brady into the mix and you could argue that Eli Manning has blown his chance, but extrapolating once again to a 16 game season, Griffin appears to be catching up with some of his more revered rivals after his three game burst. But compare his interceptions to his fellow contenders and you will see the result of strong decision making and elite accuracy.
Again a number of non-QBs are making a claim such as JJ Watt, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson who is on course to break Jerry Rice’s all time receiving yards record. You could make a valid claim for each but the odds are that a QB will take the honours once again.
In amongst all this, against the Giants on Monday night, RG3 broke the rookie QB rushing record for total yards, now standing at 714 still with four games to go. He has also added six scores on the ground, adding weight to his claim.
At the end of the season though, the league MVP will undoubtedly go to a player who led his team deep into the playoffs. So for RG3 to win this award, he needs to maintain his stats target and the Redskins need to first reach, then win at least one playoff game. Of course, rushing for over 1000 yards would also help.