I am always fascinated with awards that deal with underrated or underpaid players, and the VIZIO Top Value Performer award is one of those awards. New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecils Shorts, and Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker are the five finalists for the TVP award.
I encourage you to vote for whomever you think is deserving of the award here, and you can vote as many times as you’d like. If you’re like me and you are a blatant homer, then you will start clicking that red box under Ridley’s profile as fast as Brandon Spikes gets into the backfield on a run.
Ridley was the seventh-leading rusher in the NFL this season with 1,263 yards, and he is the first true Patriots feature back since Corey Dillon, and I bet we’ll think even higher of Ridley than Dillon over the next few years. I mean, you don’t often see running backs emerge as a true feature back and a workhorse in the league as just a first year starter, and it’s even more sweeter when you factor in that the added balance on offense has made the Pats a scarier team.
The Patriots can now run it down your throat, speed things up with ridiculous tempo, surgically pick you apart with Tom Brady passing it around to Wes Welker and the like, and the Pats can also beat you on the edge of the field with elusive backs in Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen.
But the reason why the Patriots set the record for most first downs in a season starts with Stevan Ridley and his emergence as one of the best running backs in the NFL this season. He has the speed to make a big run to the outside, but his biggest asset is his ability to consistently gain yards when running it up the middle. The fact that Ridley is making the most money of the five players will hurt him in the vote, but he should be able to garner more votes than Shorts and possibly Decker too.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.