FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- NFL Nation colleagues Rob Demovsky (Packers) and Coley Harvey (Bengals), as usual, have presented a detailed, convincing case as to why the quarterbacks of the teams they cover -- Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton -- are worthy MVP candidates at this point of the season.
1. Makes everyone around him better, and here's how: This is the prerequisite for every MVP candidate, and 2015 offers a shining example of Brady's work in this area. As a result of injuries, the Patriots have had undrafted rookie David Andrews play every snap this season at center, while fourth-round draft picks Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason are significant cogs in a three-man rotation at both guard spots. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo explained that if not for Brady, both on and off the field, the rookies might not have been as productive as they've been: "Tom manages them very well. He's a great leader. I think if he were a different type of personality that didn't encourage those guys … It's hard for rookies, especially with a figure like him, he could be pretty overpowering if he wanted to be. But he’s been very encouraging and I see a kind of comfort level with them." I think these are the types of things MVP voters should weigh as much, if not more, than bottom-line statistics. Because that is the essence of a true most valuable player, bringing out the best of those around him.
2. Toughness taken to a new level. Statistics are an important consideration in MVP voting, and I'll use some to support Brady's candidacy, but not before highlighting what I view to be a more important area of focus in this discussion -- toughness, and how it can galvanize a team. As ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando pointed out on Twitter Monday, Brady epitomized MVP-level toughness in Sunday's 30-6 win over the Cowboys. Brady's stat line didn't jump off the page, but anyone who watched the beating he took in the first 30 minutes (five sacks) and later on a bone-crunching hit to his back by Greg Hardy on a 59-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, couldn't help but appreciate the work of the 38-year-old who lays it on the line and consistently produces for his team. Every other player follows his lead, which again is the true mark of an MVP.
3. Avoiding the critical mistake. Brady's decision-making and accuracy are two of his other best assets. These are reflected in a 72.5 completion percentage and the fact he hasn't thrown an interception (the only quarterback not to throw a pick at this point of the season). Brady is only the fourth quarterback in NFL history with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first four games of a season, joining Don Meredith (1966), Peyton Manning (2013) and Rodgers (2015).
4. Mentally as sharp as they come. Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, now the Texans' head coach, called Brady's brain "The IBM," because of Brady's recall and mental acumen. Brady's knack for getting the Patriots out of a bad play call, or into a good one, is an often overlooked part of his excellence because it's not as easily quantified. We just saw one example Sunday of how this manifests itself on the field, as Brady checked out of one play and into a sneak at the 1-yard line late in the second quarter for a touchdown. There is nothing on the stat sheet that decisively highlights how Brady correctly identified the defense, spotted a weakness and exploited it. But this is what he does on a regular basis, winning mentally as much as he does physically.
5. Getting to the point(s) in dominant fashion. A quarterback's primary job is to move the offense and score points. The Patriots are second in the NFL in scoring with an average of 37.3 points per game (Arizona is first), and no one is averaging more passing yards (346.8) or more first downs (27) per game. The offense has been consistently dominant, and it obviously starts with Brady.