As we head into the final stretch of the NFL season, quarterbacks continue to dominate the MVP conversation. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers are leading the charge – all making a convincing case that they deserve the league’s top honor. But most recently, Kyler Murray has generated a considerable amount of buzz as he turns heads with not only his exceptional arm talent, but his ability tuck it and run. Let’s take a look and each of these star-studded quarterback’s cases to take home the hardware this year.
Let’s be clear. This is Mahomes’ award to lose. He had yet another MVP moment in Kansas City’s 35-31 victory over Las Vegas this week, leading his team on a game-winning drive with under two minutes to play. The only real knock against Mahomes is that he’s been so consistently good for so long, that excellence is the expectation. After leading Kansas City to a Super Bowl victory, the reigning Super Bowl MVP is putting together another flawless season. Through week 11, Mahomes has thrown for 3,035 yards and 27 touchdowns against only two interceptions. He continues to make jaw-dropping throws with ease and has led his team to a 9-1 start. Mahomes is not only the best quarterback in the league, he’s the best player in the league right now. It’s going to take an insane final stretch from one of these other quarterbacks to dethrone him.
Through the first quarter of the season, it looked like Wilson was finally going to get the recognition he deserves as one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best, of the last half-decade. The #LetRussCook campaign jumpstarted his MVP buzz, as Seattle let him throw the ball at an exceptional clip and take more chances per game. However, he’s tossed seven interceptions over the last five games, in which Seattle posted a measly 2-3 record. Through week 11, Wilson still has impressive numbers. He’s thrown for 2,986 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions so far. He’s also added 367 yards on the ground. But unfortunately, Wilson is going to have to replicate the insane start he had to the season to have any chance of taking home his first MVP award this year.
Death. Taxes. Aaron Rodgers in MVP consideration. The high-profile quarterback is putting together one of the most efficient seasons of his career while about to turn 37 years old. After Green Bay drafted his heir apparent Jordan Love in the first round of this year’s draft, Rodgers is proving to the organization that he’s got quite a bit left in the tank. Rodgers has put up 2,889 passing yards and 29 touchdowns against only four interceptions through week 11. His completion percentage is up four percent from his career average and he’s constantly making great reads to find the open man game after game. Unfortunately for the savvy vet, his dud of a game against Tampa Bay is keeping him just behind Mahomes and Wilson in the MVP odds. He’s going to have to pull off some of that quintessential Rodgers magic to make up the ground he’s lost and win the 2020 MVP award.
Every MVP race needs a dark horse candidate, and Murray has filled those shoes nicely. The second-year, dual-threat quarterback is making a name for himself by shattering expectations and producing with both his arms and his legs this year. He’s put up 2,644 passing yards, 619 rushing yards, and 29 total touchdowns while only turning the ball over 12 times. Murray has been an electric playmaker so far this season and still has room to improve, but he needs to become a more efficient passer to have a realistic shot at winning MVP honors.
Sound off in the comments and let us know who you think deserves to be MVP this season.
There are plenty of football cleats out there, but the Nike Vapor, Alpha, and Force lines are truly special.
Want proof? Just check out their game-changing generative design process. Before each cleat reaches your foot, Nike takes actual athlete data from their Sport Research Lab and implements it into the cleat plate. So before Nike introduced the new Alpha Menace cleats, they brought in Russell Wilson to wear-test them and give his own feedback. All of this led to a cleat optimized specifically with the flex points and support that agile players like the Seattle QB need.
We sat down with Kyle Strek and Erin Cochrane, two designers on the Nike Football Footwear Team, to dive into the details and find out what else makes each cleat so unique.
The Focus: Speed
The Inspiration: Odell Beckham Jr.
Kyle Strek (K.S.): With the Vapor, everything revolves around being lightweight and getting a second-skin fit. We want these cleats to feel like they are a part of your body. The Vapor Untouchable 2 specifically has a Flyweave upper, and that’s huge because the material doesn’t stretch at all. It’s so tightly woven, if you look closely, there are probably 10,000 ends of thread inside each upper. It’s similar to the seatbelt of a car — it keeps you so locked in and is completely non-stretch.
The carbon fiber plate gives you a lot of forefoot snappiness. Whether it’s a receiver jumping off the line or a defensive back getting in those first few backpedal steps, these speed players are really focused on that area of the foot. This plate gives them that energy return and explosion.
K.S.: Here, it was all about showing off the fastest guys on the field, the guys with the most athleticism. Odell fits that idea perfectly. His ability to run full speed forward and switch directions in a split second, how he can jump over people — we’ve all seen the incredible stuff he’s able to do on the field.
Erin Cochrane (E.C.): The designs definitely embody each unique player. For the Vapor, those fast chevron shapes coming from the toe and moving back represent how fast and athletic Odell is when he’s moving down the field.
words // Taylor Scharfenberg
image // Heidi Hammer
Eastbay’s Field Tested program is in full swing, helping athletes across the globe Prepare to Win. Our new product-testing program brings position-specific reviews from the game’s top athletes, straight to you. One of our newest pros in the Field Tested lineup is Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is already a firm believer.
“For high school athletes, getting advice from pro athletes is the biggest thing you can get. Everybody wants to be a pro athlete and I think the biggest thing is gaining knowledge at a young age. In terms of Eastbay Field Tested, they’re doing a great job of building a program for high school athletes to learn more about what we wear and why we like to wear it.”
For the upcoming football season, Russell chose the Nike Lunar Superbad Pro TD as his perfect cleat. He offered up some advice to players like him who might be considering the Superbad as well.
“The Superbad, for me, is the right weight. It’s a cleat that I feel like I’m on the balls of my feet, but at the same time I don’t feel like the cleat’s too light. The most important thing is the comfort and, at the same time, feeling like I’m a cheetah out on the football field, like I can move really well, and I can get past people when I need to.”
And while the Superbad isn’t commonly thought of as a quarterback cleat, Russell believes it provides him some pretty key attributes including no-slip traction in the pocket, ankle stability that prevents injury, and the perfect combination of support and speed:
“I try to be the guy who’s clutch at the end of the game. The Superbad helps me maneuver and get away from these big defensive linemen that are trying to smash me in the backfield. I’m a guy that can move pretty well and can run the ball, so I want to feel that comfort, but I also want to feel that speed. It gives me confidence when the game is on the line.”
For more feedback on the right cleats for your game, take a look at our reviews from other elite football players. Eastbay selected these players to provide information on a variety of product attributes like flexibility, acceleration, comfort, traction, and more. Once you’ve found the gear that’ll help you dominate the season, fill out your own review to let other players know what you think.
For more on Russell, go to eastbay.com/RussellWilson, or get started finding your gear at eastbay.com/FieldTested. Keep checking back for more pros, more products, and more reviews for more sports at Eastbay.