The last 3 NFL MVPs have been quarterbacks that have won a minimum of 12 games and have led a team that earned a first-round bye.
2018 Mahomes: 52 total TD’s (50 passing, 2 rushing), 80.3 qbr, 5097 passing yards, 66% completion.
2019 Lamar: 43 total TD’s (36 passing, 7 rushing), 3127 passing yards, 1206 rushing yards, 83.0 qbr, 66% completion
2020 Rodgers: 51 total TD’s (48 passing, 3 rushing), 71% completion, 84.4 qbr, 4299 passing yards.
Stats provided via Pro football reference.
Regardless of how you put it, the MVP can eventually be a narrative-driven award, especially when it comes to considering repeat winners it might make itself harder, especially in the social media era we are in which we grow tired of things/people faster than we have in the past.
There’s already a section of NFL “fans” that hate Mahomes and don’t want to see him win because of his absurd dominance since becoming a starter. These last three players all did something incredibly unique with all-time seasons to win the award and only Rodgers was a repeat. Here are 4 things I think Mahomes needs to do in order to repeat.
- Win at least 11 games: The league is now a 17 game season and this could possibly need to be 12, but I will leave the floor at 11 for now. In the past 10 years, every winning MVP’s team had a bye in the playoffs, except for the sole non-QB winner in Adrian Peterson. I would have listed clinching the bye, but now only 1 team receives the bye with more teams getting in so we may see a change in trends starting this upcoming season. Playing the most important position in all of sports starts with leading your team and while I’m against “QB wins” as a narrative, when it comes to picking the best of the best you have to be splitting hairs. Being the main reason for those wins is major in the MVP race because that’s literally what the award is meant to be, given to a player who is consistently affecting his team in a more positive manner and contributing to winning ball games in a team sport.
- Lead the League in TD’s: With 17 potential games of Mahomes, I wouldn’t leave anything off the table in terms of statistics. With the Jordan-esque competitiveness of the star QB, I expect him to be coming for blood after ending last season with the horrendous taste in his mouth following the whole team’s subpar Super Bowl performance. Previously a major barrier for him could have been not following up his 2018 season statistically and not throwing for 50 TD’s, but with another game added to the schedule, I would not be too shocked to see him eventually top those numbers, but like anything, there will need to be a little luck involved to exceed those. I’d assume an estimate of 44 TD’s+ would be a good starting number. Yes, it’s still early in the offseason, but there could be a chance that Mahomes is playing in that 17th game as this could be the worst supporting cast he’s had as a starter due to the fact that we still don’t have a starting LT or WR2. (This is not for you to panic, just stating the facts).
- Become more efficient: We can spend countless amounts of time speaking on numbers, statistics, analytics, etc. when it comes to the MVP award. But ultimately, in order to receive that award again and set the league on fire, even more, Mahomes simply has to keep improving on the little nuances of quarterback play. According to James Palmer of NFL Network, one of the major things Mahomes is working on this offseason is being more efficient and that will take this team a long way. While the big plays can reel you in and are easy to watch, defenders and their coaches get paid to play this game as well and one thing, amongst many, that the Bucs took away from us in the Super Bowl was the big play. Being more efficient, finding guys quicker, getting the ball out of his hands in a more timely manner will not only help him stay healthy, but it will also help the O-line and can essentially be a domino effect, especially having guys that can create and have YAC ability.
- Improve pocket presence: Along with being more efficient, improving his ability in the pocket, which can be very difficult when guys are getting pushed into you, and defenders all in your face but it is still an area of improvement that is needed and quite essential moving forward. Stepping up in the pocket and drawing more time that way can not only help the O-line, but just knowing that fine line of when it’s needed to escape the pocket and make magic happen or stepping up and letting your receivers continue on their route path and getting open if you trust them in doing so. A big part of that is having trust in not only your lineman. but also your receivers to run the correct routes and be in the right place at the right time. That is something that appeared to be lacking at times throughout the last year. This is something I will be focused on this year as well, because it’s always been something needed to improve by the franchise QB. In his last game, he was forced to run 497 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the Super Bowl via ESPN’s Next Gen stats and still does not have a starting NFL caliber left tackle on this roster yet. Stating this, because I’d assume it would make him want to escape the pocket more and rely on his pure playmaking ability, which at times can be a gift and curse.
All in all, Mahomes winning another MVP this year is definitely feasible as long as he stays healthy. Constantly working towards getting better and continuing to improve his craft and trust in his teammates is essential. Also, the front office continuing to fill some of the voids left on this roster will help make life easier on the franchise QB moving forward. Winning 11+ games, leading the league in TD”s, and improving his efficiency and pocket presence can lead to another attention-grabbing season from the All-Pro QB and help lead him to his 2nd MVP in only his 4th season as a starter.