Has a player ever gone from second to first in MVP voting in consecutive seasons?
It’s a new day in Orchard Park. For the first time since 1993, the Buffalo Bills are entering the season as favorites to be amongst the four best teams in the NFL. The cause for excitement? The 25-year-old quarterback who played one year of junior college football at Reedley College before transferring to the University of Wyoming. Josh Allen ended the 2020 campaign as the runner-up for the MVP Award behind Aaron Rodgers. In just his third year, Allen already surpassed several of Jim Kelly’s single-season records thanks to his breakout campaign in 2020. Including the Bills’ franchise record for passing yards in a season (4,544) and passing touchdowns (37), finishing with a 107.2 passer rating.
The question Bills fans want to know: “Can he actually win the MVP this season?” It’s a fair question that can be rooted in both optimism as well as doubt depending on your opinion for the fourth-year QB. Some view Allen as a QB who only showed progress due to the improved weapons around him. The acquisition of Stefon Diggs allowed a beautiful chemistry to develop seemingly overnight. Diggs is the perfect fit for a quarterback with the type of arm strength and aggressive approach found in Josh Allen. But it’s foolish to ignore that Stefon Diggs also had his best season to date while catching passes from Allen as opposed to Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Allen has also orchestrated career years for Cole Beasley and John Brown. So the assumption that his improvements are exclusive to Diggs are truly baseless.
On the other side of that conversation, Josh Allen was a raw talent with all the attributes that could develop into one of the best players this game has seen. Last season, Bills fans caught a glimpse of that potential. As runner-up for the MVP Award, the expectations are sky high heading into the 2021 season for the QB. Before discussing what I think will happen, let’s take a look at the past.
In looking at the history of the game, it appears that it is not only extremely difficult to win the award, but its extremely difficult play at an MVP level in back-to-back seasons. The more alarming statistic is that we have not seen the league MVP win a Super Bowl since Kurt Warner did in 1999. However, we have seen recent success of runners-up then going on to win the award. As recently as 2017, Tom Brady won the league MVP after finishing second in voting to Matt Ryan in 2016.
The Buffalo Bills have invested heavily in Allen’s development and the talent they have put around him. Losing John Brown to the salary cap, they upgraded the WR2 position when they added Emmanuel Sanders via free agency. All the other starters on offense have returned. Consistency is the theme at One Bills Drive. Four years with the same scheme, offensive coordinator, and playbook will do wonders for any player—and Josh Allen has taken full advantage.
The real question I asked myself when writing this was “Do I want Josh Allen to win the MVP?” This is the year that I want to see the Lombardi trophy driven down Elmwood and circle around Niagara Square in the middle of February. In the league’s history, 25 MVPs advanced to the Super Bowl but more lost (15) than won (10). Nine lost in the conference championship, 13 lost in the divisional round, and three lost in the Wild Card round.
Can Josh win the MVP? Absolutely. He is more than capable of taking another step forward. Is the MVP as important as winning the last game of the season? Can Allen be the first MVP since Warner in 1999 to win a Super Bowl? Buckle up, Bills fans. We’re about to go for a ride to find out.