NFL Futures: Previewing the Patriots and Tom Brady’s MVP Chances
Brady is primed for another Super Bowl run, but his MVP days might be over
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a living, breathing legend and has won the AP NFL MVP Award three times in his illustrious career. This season, the oddsmakers have listed Brady at +1000 to win his fourth award. Can he do it?
The Continuation Of A Dynasty
In February, the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. Brady is coming off a 2018 campaign that saw the future first-ballot Hall of Famer throw for 4,335 yards and 29 touchdowns. It was the tenth time in Brady’s career where he threw for over 4,000 yards and his 16th throwing at least 20 touchdown passes on his way to the Patriots second-consecutive Super Bowl victory.
Same Place, New Faces
Last season, the Patriots were among the top five teams in terms of total offense and the Brady-led passing attack finished ninth in the NFL with 266 yards per game. Brady won’t have familiar targets like tight end Rob Gronkowski or wide receiver Chris Hogan to target this season. Deep threat Josh Gordon will begin the season on the suspended list as well, so others will need to step up and replace their production.
Brady likes to spread it around, as evidenced by the fact that eight receivers hauled in touchdown passes last season. Running back James White led the way with seven TD receptions and wideout Julian Edelman finished the 2018 season with six trips to pay dirt. Both will return in 2019.
2018 breakout darling Sony Micheal also returns and should be the first and second down back in what appears to be a talented, veteran backfield. White will likely continue as Brady’s top backfield receiver and Rex Burkhead should see his fair share of looks on the ground and in the air. Rookie RB Damien Harris from Alabama could also vie for playing time if he impresses the coaching staff in the preseason.
There’s no replacing Gronkowski, but New England is sure going to try. The team signed free-agent veterans Benjamin Watson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse this offseason. However, they cut Seferian-Jenkins at his request on the first day of minicamp and Watson is suspended for the first 4 games of the season for violating the PED policy. Therefore, LaCosse, who caught 24 passes for one touchdown on the Denver Broncos last season, could wind up being the one to replace Gronkowski to start the year. It’s reasonable to assume Belichick could make a move or signing to improve this position as the weeks roll on.
Rookie wideout N'Keal Harry from Arizona State seems to have the inside track at a difference-making role as could returning receiver Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett caught 32 of his 42 targets in 2018 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Harry has 4.5 speed and had back-to-back 1000-yard seasons at ASU.
The Patriots offensive line was fourth in the NFL in 2018, allowing just 21 sacks. Fortunately for Brady, the Patriots return four of those five starters with the lone loss being tackle Trent Brown, who signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason. Isaiah Wynn appears to be the front-runner to replace Brown and if everyone stays healthy, they should be able to give Brady all the time he needs to do his thing.
2019 Season Outlook
New England has one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season with home games versus the New York Jets, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins and road games against Miami, Buffalo, the Washington Redskins, Houston Texas and Cincinnati Bengals. A logical assumption is that New England will continue its dominance over the AFC East and could represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but they don't need Brady to have the type of season an MVP needs to have in order to go that far due to their proven system and newfound reliance on the running game.
At +1000 to win, Brady would make for a great payday if he did indeed win the award. But the MVP needs to be more than just productive and efficient, he needs to put up huge numbers. At this point, Brady doesn’t need to be the MVP in order for his team to win another championship.