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KIRS Choice – 2014 NFL MVP & Coach Of The Year

Stan: As Rob and I have both mentioned before, people don’t have a clear definition of what the MVP Award is. Does it go to the best player on the best team? Does it go to the best player at the most important position? I say no to both of these. The MVP is exactly what it stands for. The Most Valuable Player. The guy that is insanely better at his position than anyone else is at their respective positions. The guy that, if removed from his team, his replacement wouldn’t come close to the same production and that team would go 0-16. That to me is an MVP.

I think we give head coaches a little too much credit than they deserve. A lot of the work is done by their coordinators but what head coaches should be credited for is handling egos, dealing with injuries and making crucial decisions. I like all the head coaches here for one reason or another but they have their flaws.

Rob: Coach of the year is hard to quantify, because even though we pretend to know what these guys do, we have no idea what they do. You just try to pick guys that have a positive impact on the team.

MVP is a little easier, even though “valuable” is loosely defined. Value could be positional, and the best player in the league compared to his position is J.J. Watt. Of course, fullback Lorenzo Neal might have five or six MVP trophies if we judged like that (which I wouldn’t be necessarily opposed to). If one person’s value takes away from another, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, and Ben Roethlisberger would be disqualified because they all play with All-Pro’s on offense.

Hell, you could make the case Earl Thomas should win this in a landslide, because without him the Seahawks would have to reconstruct their entire defensive scheme, which has been the best in the league since he was drafted. At the same time, that defense employs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, both of whom could garner consideration as the best in the league at their position.

Stan – COY

5. John Harbaugh, Ravens
Harbs might be the best coach on this list but his problem is that he wears out his welcome too quickly. He manages to get the best out of his players but for like four years. Thats what made him a great coach at Stanford and what will make him a great coach at Michigan. Once those players get tired of him, enter the draft.
4. Jason Garrett
Jason Garrett makes his list because he finally let someone else take control of the offense. Jason Garrett was a glorified babysitter, managing the egos of guys like Romo, Murray and Dez…but he did it so well.
3. Mike Zimmer
Zimmer makes this list because he got the most out of guys that probably shouldn’t have contributed as much as they did. He didn’t make Teddy Bridgewater do too much, he adapted well after losing Adrian Peterson and he made some magic with that defense.
2. Mike McCarthy
If we’re judging Mike McCarthy by what he did against Seattle, then he doesn’t belong here. He played too safely and that ultimately cost him the game. Otherwise, he’s a great coach.

**Rob’s Note, courtesy of Bill Barnwell:For whatever he offers as an offensive guru and a quarterback whisperer, Mike McCarthy is one of the worst in-game decision-makers in the league. It’s one thing to get fourth-and-1 decisions wrong, and McCarthy did in this game. But it was more than that. This is the same coach who ran a meaningless pre-halftime draw last year with Eddie Lacy, who promptly sprained his ankle. It’s the same McCarthy who threw his challenge flag on a fumble that would have been automatically reviewed. He kicks extra points to go down 12, uses his timeouts after the two-minute warning, and even that’s too much to ask sometimes.

None of those infractions is bad enough on its own to call McCarthy a bad tactician, but each are hints suggesting he leaves a lot to be desired. Sunday will go down as the proof that he’s hopelessly lost when it comes to game management.

1. Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians makes it here because he somehow found ways to win week after week with most of his team on the mend. Calais Campbell, Jonathan Cooper, Larry Foote, Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Tyrann Mathieu, Frostee Rucker, Lyle Sendlein, Drew Stanton and Dan Williams are just a few of the players that were out for some stretch this season for the Cardinals. Bruce Arians was coaching a M.A.S.H. unit and still managed to win 11 games and finish 2nd in the toughest conference in football. A lot of credit has to go to the job that Todd Bowles was able to do with this defense but Arians rallied the troops time and time again.

Stan – MVP

5. LeVeon Bell, RB, Steelers
Le’Veon Bell’s importance to the Steelers offense couldn’t be more evident than when they got to the playoffs and he got hurt. They lost a major weapon and his replacements couldn’t carry the load, both literally and figuratively.
**Rob’s Note: This is a great choice by Stan.
4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
Murray was great, without a doubt, but if he’s an MVP so is his offensive line.
3. Phillip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Outside of two road games against the Dolphins and the Chiefs (both solid defenses) Rivers played as well as he could play considering what he was working with. His leading rusher (Branden Oliver) had less than 600 yards. As a team they didn’t rush the ball as much as DeMarco Murray or LeVeon Bell. None of his receivers topped 1000 yards, although Antonio Gates had a pretty good season. My point is that Philip Rivers did a lot for his team.
**Rob’s Note: I love Philip Rivers. I have been driving the Rivers bandwagon for years. He is now and has always been better than Eli Manning. He is usually better than Ben Roethlisberger. When Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees were the definitive top three quarterbacks for the mid 2000’s, Rivers was pretty clearly the fourth-best in the league.
He lost to Chase Daniel to miss the playoffs. It would be hard to put him on this list over Russell Wilson or Ben Roethlisberger, and I would have looked to Bell, Murray, Dez Bryant, and Antonio Brown before getting to Rivers. A few defensive players too. Yes, Rivers had less, but some other guys did more.
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Mr. Discount Double Check is the reason the Packers ever had a chance. Say what you want about Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson, but Aaron Rodgers is the John Gotti of this offense. He makes everyone around him better. Thats the stuff of MVPs.
1. JJ Watt, DE, Texans
This year there isn’t a better football player than JJ Watt. You could make the case that the second best defensive end in the league is Justin Houston or Robert Quinn but if you replaced him with one of those guys, the Texans might only win two games. JJ Watt is the best football player in the league, hands down. No debate. MVP.

Rob – COY

5. John Harbaugh, Ravens
I can’t decide whether this Ravens team underachieved or overachieved, but there is something about a John Harbaugh team that scares you, and he dragged that team into the playoffs on sheer tyranny of will if nothing else.
4. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
I usually would elect to highlight a lower profile coach here, but after starting 3-3, this could have gone off the rails fast. Carroll and his staff kept this team together, and they went on a monster run to end the season 10-1 and playing like champions.
3. Bill Belichick, Patriots
Belichick winning this would be hilarious after Deflategate, but he wouldn’t be an undeserving candidate. He kept this team fresh for another year, and completely recreated the defense around the unique talents of Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins, and Dont’a Hightower. It is just a reminder that historically every time Belichick has been able to get creative, he has come through. Status quo is never enough. It was a joy to watch.
2. Bruce Arians, Cardinals
Arians was fantastic in Indianapolis when he won this award running Chuck Pagano’s show. He was wonderful last year when he coached the Cardinals up to 10 wins and could have won it again. This year might have been his best, overcoming obstacle after obstacle, culminating in Ryan Lindley starting a playoff game. Getting this team to the playoffs was a miracle. Still, it wasn’t the most impressive coaching job of 2014.
1. Jason Garrett, Cowboys
It is a little outrageous to me that Arians seems to have this locked up. Arians has been great for a long time, and his Cardinals went 10-6 last year. They were expected to take a small step back this year by most, but many had them competing for a playoff spot.
The Cowboys went 8-8, and everyone predicted a nosedive. This offseason saw the team cut DeMarcus Ware, sign nobody, and trade for the recently retired Rolando McClain. They lost Sean Lee for the season, and Morris Claiborne as well. Those were the two best players on defense, and this was supposed to be the worst defense in NFL history before they got hurt. Well the defense held up better than expected, and the offense was a machine, turning in career years for Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Terrance Williams, the entire offensive line, and of course Romo. The run-pass balance was in order for the first time under Garrett, and the team won 12 games despite missing Romo for six quarters and dealing with a back injury all season. What Arians did was great, but Jason Garrett and his entire staff put in a performance for the ages. I hope they are rewarded for it.

Rob – MVP

5. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Luck was masterful in what amounts to a one-man band in Indianapolis. His best (only?) receiving threat was T.Y. Hilton, who seemed to go missing for stretches of time. Other than that, he was throwing passes to the undeservedly underrated Reggie Wayne, the deservedly underrated Hakeem Nicks, the uncoordinated Coby Fleener, and a bunch of misfit pieces that seemed to change from game to game. With an overachieving offensive line and no running game to speak of, Luck carried the scoring load again.
4. J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
MVP is a quarterback’s award whether we like it or not. Watt is as valuable as a quarterback. So I am treating him like a quarterback. Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, and Drew Brees all had great statistical seasons, and they didn’t even sniff this list. Watt’s dominance allowed me to bump out Ben Roethlisberger or Russell Wilson, but the three top quarterbacks combined to win 36 games.
3. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Brady started off shaky as did the team, but after a 2-2 start the team rolled to go 10-1 over its next 11 before losing to Buffalo with their backups in Week 17. Brady and Rob Gronkowski were an unstoppable duo, and they have a chance to dethrone what may be the best defense of all time on Sunday (not hyperbole). A third MVP trophy, however, will have to wait.
2. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
Romo just had the best season of his career. He was the most efficient quarterback in the NFL. He completed 69.9% of his passes, tops in the league and better than the presumed MVP by 4.3%. He also led the league in yards per attempt, putting him a full yard ahead of the only other quarterback to eclipse 69% completion in renowned deep ball thrower Drew Brees. The 12-4 Cowboys lost two games in which Brandon Weeden played a key role in, and a healthy Romo could have potentially had a 13-3 or 14-2 regular season, meaning a first-round bye, home field advantage, and maybe even some home field referees on their way to a Super Bowl appearance and an MVP trophy for Romo.
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
The argument against Romo and Brady is the talent they have around them. Romo has the running game and Dez Bryant. Brady has Gronk. Well Rodgers has Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Good quarterbacks are going to have good players around them when they succeed. Rodgers gets the slightest of edges because he was phenomenal at home, and he didn’t turn the ball over. The difference between the top three quarterbacks is almost imperceptible. The difference between Rodgers’ second MVP and the first defensive MVP since Lawrence Taylor is the Ravens beating the Johnny Manziel led Browns in Week 17. If the Texans snuck in, I could legitimately argue Watt winning this.

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