Eytan Shander: AJ Brown needs to be in the MVP conversation

He is always open.

It’s not just his nickname. It’s a way of life for AJ Brown. It’s getting to the point where it’s just disrespectful to the Eagles’ top receiver to not include him in the discussion for the NFL’s best WR. Give Brown’s name some respect and address him as one of the most influential players in the league.

He deserves it.

We all see it. It’s just this blind spot that people have for Tyreek Hill or a broken, not even playing Justin Jefferson. You can’t do that if you’re dealing with a hamstring injury because. Stefon Diggs gets some love because he still managed to rush for six touchdowns despite playing an idiot with Josh Allen at quarterback.

That’s all we’re hearing right now. Nobody else is on the playlist. They’re TV calls in which Brown makes ridiculous moves over and over again. That’s why Brown is better than Hill – at least this year – because he can do everything thrown at him. That’s because Brown is so active as a receiver and puts up similar numbers to Hill. This is the main difference between these two special talents.

Splitting hairs is a difficult thing, but I heard many of you did exactly that with LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan. So if you did that and have a problem with it, please take a step back. Brown had to put in extra effort on a number of big wins, which helped him hit big numbers every week. Hill creates the space needed to find open spots on the field. It’s incredibly difficult to defend, but the Eagles were able to limit him in a loss in Miami. We have seen up front and personally how removing areas of the field can limit the damage caused.

That’s not happening at Brown, folks. The defense simply can’t keep adding new assets to slow him down, like a feckless Raptors team trying to outsmart Joel Embiid. Even when teams try to add another team, it hasn’t worked out. Brown made some amazing and important catches with multiple defenders on him – sometimes draped over him like another jersey.

We haven’t seen that since Terrell Owens, and even then I’m not sure we’ve seen it before. Owens is the greatest receiver to ever wear an Eagles jersey, but the impact on the game may never have been greater.

Receivers aren’t supposed to win games – they compliment QBs and put a few points on the board, but they aren’t supposed to change things like a QB does. Here, Brown has even surpassed Hill and Diggs – or anyone else in the NFL. This is the main reason he should be considered for MVP and a candidate for the Offensive Player of the Year award.

Brown is currently 180-1 en route to being named NFL MVP. He’s been the main reason the Eagles’ offense works – even more so than Jalen Hurts this year, although Hurts is the second favorite to win at +350 odds (Brown is at +18,000). QBs get all the love. That’s the unfair reality of this silly award, but no one has helped their quarterback more than Brown – not even Hill.

The main reason is that Hill’s quarterback isn’t in trouble. Tua Tagovailoa benefits from the playmaking and execution around Hill, almost like an autopilot with a human just in case. This isn’t a knock on Tua, not many quarterbacks have the precision needed to continue finding a guy like Hill, but having a passer who just plays well certainly doesn’t help his case.

On the other hand, Hurts looked downright terrible at times, despite a nice ball-throwing game last week. The difference lies in who he throws the ball to, not in the balls themselves. Again, this isn’t a question of who’s more important, nor some silly “Would you rather have Brown over Hurts?” nonsense. This explains why Brown is simply more valuable to the Eagles than any other player at his position is to any other team.

Hurts struggled a few games with some suspect holds and the offense was still working for Brown. They still scored enough points – even in two bad second halves – because Brown was the only constant, no matter how bad things were around him.

He has rushed for at least 125 yards in six straight games. Hurts wasn’t pretty in all of those games, nor was the running game, the offensive line, the offensive coordinator or the head coach. It’s brown. All day long.

Beyond the QB love found on the MVP odds sites, there are guys like Christian McCaffrey and Hill – over Brown for different reasons. It’s strange that C-Mac and his QB Brock Purdy are so close, as the Niners have sputtered due to Purdy being exposed by other teams.

The real problem is that Brown has a chance to win Offensive Player of the Year at +750, behind favorites Tyreek Hill (+140 FanDuel) and McCaffrey (+160). Nonsense. None of these guys – as recently demonstrated by the Niners and Hill’s pathetic performances here in Philly – can impact the game like Brown can.

This is similar to what Deion Sanders used to do by taking away half the field. To be able to cover ground intelligently enough with speed to the ball, it was scary to see that a defensive back could cover so much ground. Violators would avoid areas covered by Sanders, such as the Bermuda Triangle. Now it’s the defense trying to overload Brown or do whatever they can to take Brown out of the game.

Unlike the tush push, no rules committee can prohibit the damage Brown has done. He is simply unstoppable. He allows the Eagles to systematically move the ball down the field by peppering him with targets and then throwing a big strikedown down the field. Anyway, it doesn’t matter who is around him or who is covering for him.

What can Brown do for you?

He is currently the most important offensive player in the NFL alongside Patrick Mahomes. He is the Offensive Player of the Year, an award that is not a QB. He is simply dominant and allows everyone else to thrive because of his size.

Just unbelievable.

Eytan Shander is a longtime radio and television personality in Philadelphia. In addition to his weekly column, you can currently hear and see him on Fox29’s Good Day and other sports shows. He gives betting tips on OddsShopper. Eytan is a lifelong Eagles fan and lives just outside of town with his wife.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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