The end of the 2021-2022 NFL season is within sight, and man, what a year it has been. The first season to feature 17 games lived up to every bit of its hype—with drama around every corner and incredible performances every weekend, it will be a year that football fans will be reminiscing as time goes on. It will be remembered as the final games for Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger and the passing of the torch to young slingers such as Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes. The end of this season marks the end of an era.
On February 10th, the league will host its 11th annual NFL Honors to showcase the outstanding players and moments that have occurred throughout the year with the highest achievement being the NFL MVP. Aaron Rodger and Tom Brady currently sit at the top of the charts for most-likely to receive the title, but sneakily sitting in third is Los Angeles Rams star receiver Cooper Kupp with +2000 odds according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Kupp’s unbelievable performance this year has put him in highly-regarded company, but I believe that his efforts should vault him to the top of the list.
Kupp is having the best statistical season by a receiver in the history of the NFL
It's time to talk about Cooper Kupp's 2021 season as one of the greatest we've ever seen from the position. Stats all-time (including postseason):— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) February 3, 2022
170 (1st) [156 - 2nd]
2,333 (1st) [1,977 - 2nd]
20 (T-4th) [24 - 1st]
Just needs a . pic.twitter.com/RAalOq71Tx
Asterisk or not, Kupp is enjoying one of the greatest seasons to be played at the receiver position in the history of the National Football League. He finished this year as the triple-crown winner with the most receiving yards, the most receptions, and the most touchdowns by any receiver in 2021—a feat that has not been accomplished since Steve Smith did it in 2005 with the Baltimore Ravens.
He also broke records. His 142-yard effort against the San Francisco 49ers marked his 13th time going over the 100-yard mark this season, breaking Michael Irvin’s long standing record of 12. Though he did not beat Calvin Johnson’s single season receiving record, he moves right behind him with 1,947 yards, just 17 yards shy. Kupp also finished second all-time in receptions in a single-season with 145. With both the regular season and the playoffs combined, Kupp has already passed Larry Fitzgerald’s record of 1,977 yards with the Super Bowl left to go. He currently sits at 2,333 yards receiving.
Cooper Kupp against man-coverage:— PFF (@PFF) February 3, 2022
94.3 receiving grade
606 receiving yards pic.twitter.com/tAVX0whmbV
Kupp’s record-breaking season will go down as one of the greatest to ever be played, surpassing the likes of Randy Moss, Michael Irvin, and Rams legend Isaac Bruce.
Re-defining what “MVP” means in the NFL
The NFL MVP award has long stood as a quarterback accolade with the occasional running back sprinkled in to keep it diverse. The last time that a non-QB/RB won the title of MVP was in 1986 when Lawrence Taylor won it as a linebacker. If your understanding of the award is that it should go to the most important position on the field than picking a quarterback or running back is a no-brainer—but nowhere is it defined as such. The MVP award is granted to the most valuable player in the NFL, so what does it mean to be valuable in the league?
To me, being valuable in the NFL in terms of MVP relevancy can be broken down by two simple things: consistent excellence and clutch performances. That is why Johnson did not become the first receiver in NFL history to snag the award in 2012 despite setting a record that has not been broken to this day—he was inconsistent. It also did not help his case that the Detroit Lions did a lot of losing that year, finishing with a 4-12 record.
Most receiving yards in a single regular + postseason— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) January 31, 2022
2021 Cooper Kupp 2,333*
2008 Larry Fitzgerald 1,977
1995 Jerry Rice 1,965
*Ok, this is getting ridiculous pic.twitter.com/vgsgSLHsNH
Kupp, on the other hand, has been the definition of consistent. He finished with 90+ yards receiving in every single regular-season game except for one in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals. His performances in games were often the reason that the Rams won and that has been especially true in the playoffs. His final effort in the waning seconds of the Divisional Round will go down as two of the most memorable clutch catches in Rams history, rivaling the likes of Isaac Bruce’s Super Bowl touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Kupp is not only consistent, but his overall performance has helped elevate his team week-in and week-out.
Statistically, the front runners have not done anything special this year—and neither of them are in the Super Bowl
Rodgers is the current favorite to win the award (-500) for the second time in a row despite putting up arguably worse stats from a year prior. Rodgers will finish with 184 yards less passing, 11 less touchdowns, and a QBR 10 points less than the year prior. His 37 touchdowns rank behind Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Justin Herbert and he will finish the year ranking 10th in total yards. The argument may be made that he only started 16 games this season due to a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, but even then the numbers aren’t even close.
Brady, on the other hand, has put together one of his best seasons of his career at the age of 44 and has the second best odds (+350) of winning the award. He finished the regular season number one in passing yards and touchdowns but fell to the number seven position in total QBR with 102.1 that was held down by his 12 interceptions. Despite his own career-high numbers during a 17-game season, it his statistics were not record-breaking—and neither were Rodgers.
Cooper Kupp is unbelievable pic.twitter.com/tLgZvWOgEC— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 31, 2022
Kupp’s season has been record-breaking, however. He has done things that no receiver have ever done before in the course of a season—most impressively he has done it with a quarterback still learning Sean McVay’s offensive schemes. Even with great quarterback play from Stafford this season, without Kupp as his designated safety blanket, Los Angeles does not even come close to a Super Bowl run. If the MVP is truly supposed to go to the most valuable player in the NFL, than no one comes close to what Kupp has done this season.
What do you think? Do you think Kupp should get the nod for MVP? Let’s discuss!