The Miami Dolphins are 9-3 for the first time since 2001. Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill are a large part of this team's success. The question is, who is more deserving of the NFL’s MVP award?
Since the AFL/NFL merger, there have been 57 NFL MVPs. Forty-two quarterbacks, 12 running backs, 2 defensive players, and 1 kicker make up all the MVPs since 1967. Jerry Rice, Calvin Johnson, and Randy Moss set the standard for elite play by a wide receiver. Yet, in all the years the NFL has been handing out NFL MVP awards, a wide receiver has never won the MVP.
In 1987 Jerry Rice set the record for most receiving touchdowns with 22. That same season John Elway won the NFL MVP with 3,198 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Twenty years later, Randy Moss broke Rice’s record with 23 receiving touchdowns. Unfortunately, that year, Tom Brady threw for 4,806 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions so he was named the NFL MVP that year.
The last non-quarterback to win the NFL MVP was Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson won the NFL MVP in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. This was the same year Calvin Johnson set the record for most receiving yards with 1,964 and 5 touchdowns.
It’s no secret that Tyreek Hill is on a record setting pace to eclipse Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards. Hill currently has 1,481 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns with 5 games remaining. Tyreek would have to average 104 receiving yards per game over the next 5 games to reach 2,000 yards. If Hill averaged 2 touchdowns per game the rest of the way, he could have a chance at Randy Moss’s single-season receiving touchdown record.
Tyreek Hill is currently ranked first in offense and receiving by Pro Football Focus. Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Tyreek is second in targets and receptions with 123 targets and 93 receptions.
Tua Tagovailoa is having an MVP season himself.
Tua has 3,495 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. This puts Tua in second for passing yards and third in touchdowns. Tua is currently tied for first in completion percentage, completing 70% of his passes. Pro Football Focus ranks Tagovailoa number one with a 91.3 in passing. Third in passer rating and 7th in QBR, Tua is certainly making a case for MVP.
The question remains, who has a better case for NFL MVP, Tua or Tyreek?
Tua Tagovailoa has accounted for 37% of Miami’s points, 18% if you remove his passes to Tyreek Hill. He has been on the field for 739 of Miami’s 779 offensive snaps. Tua ranks fourth on the team with a 90.2 score on offense and second on the team with a 91.3 score for offensive passing.
By comparison, Tyreek Hill is first on the team in offense and offensive passing with scores of 93.9 and 94.2. Tyreek has also accounted for 18% of Miami’s points, even though they all came directly from Tua's passes. Hill has been on the field for 516 of Miami’s 779 offensive snaps.
Tua would need to keep his turnovers down and passing yards high. Tua could make a strong case for MVP if he surpasses 5,000 yards passing and throws for over 35 touchdowns. Doing so would make Tua the 10thdifferent quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards. If Tyreek surpasses Calvin Johnson and goes for 2,000 receiving yards, it would be hard to deny him the NFL MVP. Add to that the outside chance of breaking Randy Moss’s single-season receiving touchdown record and Hill would have a stranglehold on the MVP trophy. Tyreek would not only be the first 2,000-yard receiver he would also be the first wide receiver to win the MVP.
Miami’s offense is dynamic and both players are essential to its success. One can argue that without Tua, Tyreek Hill has no one to throw him the ball. Yet, without Tyreek Hill, it can be debated that the space on the field would not be as prevalent on offense. This debate will be had until a winner is crowned.
Much of the results will be determined in the weeks to come. Everything will hinge on how the rest of the season plays out. Tua controls the rhythm of the offense, but Tyreek keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. For now, the debate will continue; for Miami, the goal remains the same, Super Bowl!