MVP Meter: Receiving high praise

Posted Oct. 18, 2011 @ 6:57 p.m.
Posted By Eli Kaberon

Jerry Rice holds basically every important record for pass-catchers in NFL history, so he knows a thing or two about playing wide receiver. PFW spoke with him last week about a variety of topics, and one thing he mentioned was how the passing game has changed since he retired. Teams are throwing down the field more and receivers have become even more important to offensive attacks.

It makes the all-time great a bit jealous that he didn't get to play during this era.

"This is the year of throwing the football, and you can see it in New England with the Patriots, with the Packers, with so many teams," Rice said. "It's an era where I would have loved to have played in because there's really not any defense."

Rice, who was named the PFW/Pro Football Writers of America MVP in both 1986 and '87, mentioned two players as ones who are dominating in this pass-happy era — the Lions' Calvin Johnson and the Patriots' Wes Welker. Both appear on the Meter this week and have the potential to rise to the top and set records of their own.

"I would be the first to congratulate those guys," said Rice. "I believe records are meant to be broken. I didn't play to set records and those guys are having terrific seasons, so I wish them the best and if one of those guys would break a record of mine, I'd be the first to get on the phone and say hey, congratulations."

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 1) — After throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Rams on Sunday, Rodgers became the first player in league history to register a passer rating of 110 or more in each of the first six games of a season. Don't be shocked if that streak continues against the Vikings' 24th-ranked pass defense in Week Seven.

 2. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 2) — Brady stepped up when it mattered most Sunday vs. the Cowboys. He completed 8-of-9 passes on the team's game-winning drive, capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to TE Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds remaining.

3. Lions WR Calvin Johnson (No. 3) — While his coach stole the spotlight for his postgame antics, Johnson was his usual self in Week Six — he made seven catches for 113 yards, including a 41-yarder, against the 49ers. He was kept from a scoring a touchdown for the first time this season, though.

4. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 4) — Despite struggling in Week Six, Brees didn't warrant being dropped on the Meter. His three interceptions were costly in New Orleans' loss to the Buccaneers, but he has completed more than 68 percent of his passes and ranks among the top four in the league in both passing yards and touchdowns.

5. Bills RB Fred Jackson (No. 7) — In 2009 and 2010 combined, Jackson eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a game five times, an impressive mark for a player splitting carries with other backs. This season, Jackson has topped the century mark four times in six games, a major reason he is second in the NFL in rushing at this point.

6. Raiders RB Darren McFadden (No. 8) — With Jason Campbell hurt and Carson Palmer learning the Oakland playbook, expect McFadden to see even more work than normal in the coming weeks. That should be no problem for the back, who is causing weekly fits for defenses with his rare combination of pure strength and blazing speed.

7. Lions QB Matthew Stafford (No. 5) — Stafford's drop on the Meter coincides with the Lions' first loss of the season. As opponents have taken away the Lions' deep routes, Stafford needs to find more ways to get the ball down the field.

8. Patriots WR Wes Welker (No. 8) — The Cowboys deserve credit for doing a fantastic job on Welker in Week Six, holding him to his fewest amount of yards (45) on the season, but he still caught six passes — including a touchdown — in the Patriots' win.

9. 49ers RB Frank Gore (cusp) — Some players (see Chris Johnson) see their production decline after signing big contracts. Not so for Gore, who is turning in an outstanding season for the surprising Niners. He already has one more rushing touchdown than he had all of last season and is averaging five yards per carry.

10. Steelers WR Mike Wallace (cusp) — On a team known for defense and running the ball, Wallace, an explosive wideout, is the Steelers' biggest star. Wallace, one of the league's premier deep threats, is averaging 18.5 yards per reception this season.

Five on the cusp (in alphabetical order) — Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bears RB Matt Forté, Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Ravens RB Ray Rice.

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