How great is it to hand out a midseason MVP award when the team is right in the thick of the playoff discussion? At 4-3-1, the Redskins can still get the wins they need to qualify for the postseason without necessarily having to win out (refreshing!).
The reason for any success we have enjoyed thus far in the 2016 campaign can be attributed to more than just one player—or coach...or GM—but we don’t do ties here (oh, right...crap).
I’ll throw out a guy whose name should generally be at the top of most ballots: Jordan Reed. He leads the team with 42 receptions (two ahead of Jamison Crowder) and is an absolute matchup disaster for most defensive coordinators. You can’t go wrong talking Reed up as the MVP through eight games.
Why not Kirk Cousins? Kirk is second in the league in passing yards, and helms the second-ranked offense (bye weeks are still messing with the averages at this point, so the New Orleans Saints deserve some dap). His rating might not be as high as Tress Way’s 118.8, but Cousins sits in the top half (at least) of most categories that matter. I am still stewing on my halfway point Kirk article (I promised myself I would only do one during this season) so I will not be doing any contract talk here, but suffice to say our quarterback has shown us enough for us to be excited and hopeful. He has made mistakes and some of those mistakes have cost us, but overall, I just feel like we have a hell of a quarterback.
Does anyone think that our defense would be a fraction as good without Josh Norman? I respect the hell out of the jobs being done by Chris Baker, Will Compton, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy. They are each deserving of love in a column like this, but when you really look at the manner in which our defense has succeeded (when they have succeeded), I just can’t help but think that the presence of Josh Norman has been at the core of it. Sure, great receivers are going to get theirs, and the rules of the modern NFL are going to make it increasingly hard for a physical corner to ply his trade. Given that, I would say that Josh Norman has more than earned his money. We will break him down further in a separate column from a stats perspective (he has consistently been rated at or near the top of the cornerback heap by independent sites like PFF).
Despite all of this, I am casting my vote for a receiver that has been beyond clutch for us this season: Jamison Crowder. His 40 receptions are second to the aforementioned Reed, with over half of those catches resulting in first downs. The NFL seems almost tailormade for players like Jamison Crowder these days. With rules limiting the contact you can make on receivers, Crowder enjoys freedom of movement in places where his sheer athleticism is going to allow him to find and run into open space. Kirk Cousins knows this and seems to be looking for him the way Brady would look for Edelman or Welker (not a coincidence given the way Cousins has studied Brady). Crowder’s contribution in the return game cannot be overlooked. His 85-yard punt return touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens ended up being the difference in the game on the scoreboard. He is tough, elusive and is right there next to Chris Thompson when it comes to being the true engine of this offense.
I don’t think there is one right answer here, and I look forward to reading all the ways in which we will defend and argue for our favorite candidates.