Between Weeks Four and Five, the quarterly awards became a highly talked about and debated conversation around the league. Almost anywhere you looked, Matt Ryan was the clear first name to mention when looking at the NFL MVP candidates. The Atlanta Falcons are the surprise of the season to date. Ryan had another strong performance in Week Five and remains in the top five of almost every statistical category. It is no surprise to see Ryan get the love this early.
At the same time, the leader in the clubhouse through five weeks rarely pushes that campaign throughout the entire season. While Ryan may have been the MVP of the NFL to date, when predicting who will be the MVP from this point forward, the first place to look should be Ben Roethlisberger.
Ben Roethlisberger Will Win 2016 MVP
Roethlisberger would be second behind Matt Ryan if the season ended today. Roethlisberger is third in the NFL in passing yards, he leads the league in touchdowns, and has the highest touchdown percentage in the NFL. The Steelers are sitting at 4-1 and so far have averaged 32.4 points per game.
Ryan has the edge now, but when predicting which quarterback will sustain this success, the edge should go to Roethlisberger. For their careers, Ryan has a 64% completion rate, averages 7.3 yards per attempt, 7.2 adjusted yards per attempt, with a 4.6 touchdown percentage. Roethlisberger completes 64% of his passes on his career as well. However, he averages 7.9 yards per attempt and 7.7 adjusted yards per attempt with a 5.7 touchdown percentage through his career. The history of success is on the side of Roethlisberger.
The biggest argument against Roethlisberger through the years has been the players around him causing him to look better than he is. He was drafted into a team with a great defense, he grew as a professional with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Hines Ward, and now has Antonio Brown to throw to.
At the same time, Matt Ryan has Julio Jones, the only receiver who seems to be in any conversation with Brown at the time. On top of that, this year Ryan may be in the best situation of his career. He is in the second year with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who has had proven success. The team has added an All-Pro center in Alex Mack, and a number two wideout in Mohamed Sanu, while seeing an emergence from the second year running back Tevin Coleman.
An Unpredictable Supporting Cast
All of these factors combined have vaulted Ryan off to a hot start. However, Roethlisberger is not far behind Ryan and has had a far less stable situation. Aside from Brown, the Steelers have rotated at wide receiver. We have seen Eli Rogers, Markus Wheaton, and Sammie Coates all dealing with injury and other issues. The Steelers have had their left guard and right tackle go down for a portion of the season so far to date as well. Oh, and the whole not having Le’Veon Bell for three games thing.
Nonetheless, the offense has continued to click. He turned Jesse James from an outlaw to a touchdown maker, he has Xavier Grimble averaging a catch per game and even turned Darrius Heyward-Bey into a useful receiver with a 31-yard touchdown strike.
In the two games with Le’Veon Bell back, Roethlisberger has thrown nine touchdowns to zero interceptions. He is completing 75.6% of his passes and is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. The Steelers are 2-0, and averaging 37 points per game.
Roethlisberger is now in the situation he was designed to be in. Moving forward, Roethlisberger has the resources around him, and the talent to take over the league and become the obvious MVP of the NFL. At this rate, he may even be everybody’s pick for the MVP at the halfway point of the season. This should be the season in which Ben Roethlisberger gets the first MVP of his career, and if he does, he will most certainly deserve it.