Before I get started, I just quickly want to note how it's currently snowing/sleeting outside my house. And yet, as Dolphin fans, we aren't talking about free agency or playoffs. Instead, we still have meaningful games to look forward to.
It's still ridiculously amazing when you think about it.
But onto what I wanted to talk about. I was reading Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback article yesterday when I came across his top 5 MVPs, as of now. And he had Matt Ryan listed at #2 on his list, only trailing Peyton Manning. Absent from his list was Chad Pennington.
What else is new?
Pennington was clearly robbed of a Pro Bowl bid. And he seems to get absolutely no love at all when people discuss the NFL MVP race. Now I'm not here to say that he should win the award. But he needs to be involved in the discussion, doesn't he?
Listen. If Matt Ryan can even get some MVP love, then Pennington needs to get some as well. Pennington has more passing yards, a higher completion percentage, the same amount of touchdown passes, fewer interceptions, and a higher QB rating than Ryan. And both lead teams with 9-5 records. And this is despite Ryan having better wide receivers to throw to. The Fins don't have a single receiver who even comes close to the kind of player Roddy White is.
So if you're basing your MVP vote on statistics, Pennington needs to be ranked higher than Ryan.
Of course, the MVP award isn't just about stats. That's what the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards are for. The Most Valuable Player award looks beyond stats. Or, at least, it's supposed to. It's supposed to be about which player in the league is most valuable to his team; or, more importantly, is most valuable to his team's success. And if you use that as your criteria, I don't see how any player can rank higher than our very own Chad Pennington.
Where would the Dolphins be without Pennington right now? Not 9-5 - I'll tell you that. Maybe 5-9. Possibly 6-8. The pessimist in me says more like 4-10. The fact of the matter is that Chad's arrival to Miami is the single biggest reason for this turnaround.
And if you want to talk about how valuable he is to this team, then all you really need to consider are two things. First, he was named a team captain despite arriving about 3 weeks before the end of training camp. And second, consider the following nugget from Barry Jackson's latest article:
Sparano said Chad Pennington meets twice a week with receivers and once a week with offensive linemen -- without coaches present -- and he has never seen a quarterback do that before. (No wonder players call him "coach Pennington," as receiver Davone Bess said.)
So, again, I ask you: who is more valuable to their own team than Chad Pennington?
Joey Porter for MVP?
Alright. So this one might be a bit of a stretch. But the Miami Herald raised this question in an article on Sunday night. And while I'm not totally on board with this idea, I thought I'd at least address it and let you all discuss it.
I will agree, though, that if James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware are both getting some MVP love from the media, as they are in this Sports Illustrated article, Porter does deserve to be in the mix, too. Porter's 17.5 sacks is 2nd in the NFL, training Ware by just 1.5. But again, the MVP award is about more than just stats. And, without a doubt, Porter is Miami's most valuable defensive player. He's the leader (in all senses of the word) of the NFL's 11th ranked defense which also happens to be the 8th ranked defense in points allowed. Oh - and this defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in 3 games - a feat that no NFL team has accomplished since 2000.
But Jason Ferguson makes the best case for Porter as MVP, saying:
"I've been laughing, watching all of these shows, I'm thinking, `Why aren't you throwing his name out as the MVP? He's got to be the MVP.' I don't think anybody comes through in the fourth quarter like he does every game. Maybe I'm being biased because he's my guy, but the proof is in the pudding."
That "fourth quarter" comment got me thinking. Just how good is Porter in the 4th quarter? After all, he called himself a "closer" when telling Tony Sparano at halftime on Sunday that he would make a play when it mattered most. I guess the game-sealing sack of Shaun Hill on 4th down would qualify.
In the 4th quarter this year, Porter has 9 of his 17.5 sacks - over half of his season total. He also has all 4 of his forced fumbles coming in the fourth, as well as his lone fumble recovery. Furthermore, 5 of Porter's sacks, 2 of his forced fumbles, and his lone fumble recovery have come in the 4th quarter when the Dolphins and their opponent are within 7 points of each other.
Yes, he is indeed a "closer." But is he an MVP candidate?
Sparano for Coach of the Year?
This is one award where a Dolphin is very much in the running to win. In fact, SI.com's Bucky Brooks has Tony Sparano listed #1 in his Coach of the Year rankings. And for damn good reason.
Sparano's team is currently standing at an improbably 9-5 record just one year after going 1-15. And we all know how the Fins control their own playoff destiny.
If the Dolphins were to win one more game, then the Dolphins would break the record for best turnaround after a 1-15 season, winning 9 more games than the previous year. If the Dolphins were to win both of their remaining games and win the AFC East, they would tie the Colts for the biggest single-season turnaround in NFL history - winning 10 more games than their previous season. That in itself should be enough for Sparano to win this award.
But if you want even more of a reason, consider Miami's incredibly low turnover total. The fewest turnovers ever in a 16 game season is 14. The Dolphins currently stand at 10. When teams turn the ball over a lot, the media is always quick to put some blame on the head coaches. So when a team doesn't turn the ball over much, should the head coach get some credit?
Mark this down: if the Dolphins win their final 2 regular season games and win the AFC East, Tony Sparano is going to win the Coach of the Year award. If they slip up and win just 1 of their last 2, Sparano will still have a chance - but it won't be as clear cut.