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November 02, 2023

Eytan Shander: A.J. Brown needs to be in the MVP conversation

A.J. Brown is more than a lock to win Offensive Player of the Year, writes columnist Eytan Shander. He should be in the running for NFL MVP.

Eagles NFL
AJ-Brown-Eagles-MVP-Offensive-Player-of-the-Year Brad Mills/USA Today Sports

Will A.J. Brown garner any MVP votes this season?

He’s always open.

It’s not just his nickname. It’s a way of life for A.J. Brown. It’s getting to the point where it’s just disrespectful to the Eagles' top receiver to not have him in the conversation of being best WR in the NFL. Put some respect on Brown’s name and start talking about him as one of the most impactful players around the league.

He deserves it.

We all see it. It’s just this blindspot people have for Tyreek Hill or a banged up, not even playing Justin Jefferson. You can't make this thing if you’re out with a hamstring, cuz. Stefon Diggs gets some love because he’s still managed to grab six TDs despite playing with a bozo for a quarterback in Josh Allen.

That’s all we are listening to right now,. Nobody else is on the playlist. It’s TV calls of Brown making ridiculous grabs over and over and over again. This is why Brown is better than Hill — at least this year — as he grabs everything thrown to him. It’s because of how active of a receiver Brown is combined with putting up similar numbers to Hill. It’s the main difference between these two special talents.

Splitting hairs is a tough thing, but I listened to a lot of you do just that with LeBron James vs Michael Jordan, so if you did that and have a problem with this, kindly take a step back. Brown has had to make the extra effort on a bunch of grabs, big ones that helped him reach a huge number each week. Hill creates necessary space to find open spots on the field. I’s incredibly difficult to defend but the Eagles were able to limit him in a Miami loss. We saw up front and personal how taking areas of the field away can limit the damage done.

That ain’t happening with Brown, folks. Defenses simply can’t keep adding bodies to slow him down like a helpless Raptors team trying to figure out Joel Embiid. Even when teams try to add another body, it hasn’t worked out. Brown has made some amazing catches of importance with multiple defenders on him — at times draped over him like another jersey.

We haven’t seen this since Terrell Owens and even then, I’m not sure we have seen this before. Owens is the best receiver that ever put on an Eagles jersey but there may never been this level of game impact. 

Receivers aren’t supposed to win games — they compliment QBs and put some points on the board, but they aren’t supposed to shift things like a QB. That’s where Brown has excelled even past Hill and Diggs — or anyone else in the NFL. It’s the biggest reason why he should be getting MVP consideration and should be a lock for Offensive Player of the Year. 

Brown is currently a 180-1 long shot to win the NFL MVP. He’s been the key reason why the Eagles offense works — even more so than Jalen Hurts this year, despite Hurts being the second odds-on favorite to win at +350 (Brown is +18000). QBs get all the love. That’s the unfair reality of this silly award, but nobody has helped his QB more than Brown — not even Hill.

The biggest reason is that Hill’s QB isn’t struggling. Tua Tagovailoa is benefitting from the play-calling and execution surrounding Hill, almost like an autopilot with a human there just in case. It’s not a knock on Tua, not many QBs have the deep accuracy to continue to find a guy like Hill, but it certainly doesn’t help the his case with a passer who's playing just fine.

On the other hand, Hurts has looked downright awful at times, despite a beautiful game throwing the ball last week. It’s who he’s throwing the ball to that’s making the difference, not the balls themselves. Again, this isn’t a who is more important nor some stupid “Would you rather have Brown over Hurts?” nonsense. This is explaining why Brown is simply more valuable to the Eagles than any other player of his position is to any other team.

Hurts struggled through a couple of games with some suspect grabs and the offense still worked with Brown. They still scored enough points — even in two bad second halves — as Brown was the one constant no matter how bad things were around him.

He’s recorded at least 125 yards in six straight games. Hurts hasn’t been pretty in all of those games, neither has the run game, the offensive line, offensive coordinator nor the head coach. It’s Brown. All day.

Beyond the QB love found on the odds pages for MVP are guys like Christian McCaffrey and Hill – above Brown for different reasons. It’s odd that C-Mac and his QB Brock Purdy are so close together, as the Niners have sputtered as a result of Purdy being exposed by other teams.

The real issue comes in the form of Brown being a +750 long shot to win Offensive Player of the Year — behind favorite Tyreek Hill (+140 FanDuel) & McCaffrey (+160). Nonsense. Neither of these guys — as seen recently by the Niners pitiful performances and Hill here in Philly — can impact the game like Brown.

This is akin to what Deion Sanders used to do by taking away half of the field. To be able to intelligently cover enough ground with speed to the ball, it was uncanny to see a defensive back cover as much ground. Offenses would avoid areas covered by Sanders like the Bermuda Triangle. Now, it’s defenses trying to overload or do whatever they can to remove Brown from the game.

Unlike the “Tush Push,” no rules committee can outlaw the damage being inflicted by Brown. He’s simply unstoppable. He allows the Eagles to methodically move the ball down the field by peppering him with targets and then taking a huge strike down field. Either way, it hasn’t mattered who is around him nor who's covering him.

What can Brown do for you?

He’s the most important offensive player in the NFL right now outside of Patrick Mahomes. He’s the Offensive Player of the Year — a non-QB award. He’s simply dominant and allows everyone else to flourish as a result of his greatness.

Absolutely amazing.

Eytan Shander is a long time radio and TV personality in Philadelphia. In addition to his weekly column, you can currently listen and watch him on Fox29’s Good Day and other sports shows. He’s giving betting advice on OddsShopper. A lifetime Eagles fan, Eytan lives just outside the city with his wife.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow