I mean, I get it, I do. But I would argue that there is a bit of hypocrisy amongst those who complain that Collaros was a victim of bias from voters, because he had won 2 straight MOP awards. This perspective is likely at least partially true - voter fatigue is a bias that possibly kept Collaros from being the Bombers’ MOP nominee (and if he hadn’t won the award two years’ running, I doubt Brady would’ve gotten the Bombers’ nomination). But they are ignoring another bias, namely the league-wide bias to prefer QBs for MOP. Because I agree - Collaros absolutely had a better chance of beating Adams or Kelly at the divisional and league-wide level than does Oliveira. But this is not because Oliveira deserves this recognition less than Zach.
To answer those who say that Zach had a better 2023 than 2022, you aren’t competing against your past self in this process, you’re competing against the people who are playing alongside you this season. And in 2023, I would argue that Oliveira had at minimum, an equal impact on Winnipeg’s regular season outcome as Collaros…both because opponents had to plan on stopping (or more realistically, slowing down) the run, frequently giving Zach far more time to make passing plays than he otherwise would’ve had, and because Oliveira almost single-handedly kept the Bombers’ offense on the field in the 4th quarter without risking turnovers, allowing them to run down the clock and close out games (including close games). Without him being their weapon of choice in this circumstance, they wouldn’t have a 14-4 record.
And for the record, Zach has faltered this year when the pressure was on. Nobody looked good, for example, on July 15th, when the Bombers gave up a massive lead to Ottawa, and lost in OT, but as that game was getting out of hand, Collaros could have settled things down, adapted, and overcome their late push. And yet Ottawa’s defense read him perfectly. Over the last 3 seasons, the Bombers’ defense has frequently bailed Zach out when he wasn’t playing his best, eking out gritty wins…when he had a chance to return the favour, he wasn’t able to. And that’s just one example; there were a couple other games this year where Collaros was underwhelming, and a couple more where he was merely above average, playing well enough to get a win, but only despite some major mental mistakes/poor decisions, where if the opponent hadn’t been trash, the outcome would’ve absolutely been different.
There is no question that Oliveira has had the most outstanding season we’ve seen from a RB in a decade (an incredible feat, given that Andrew Harris played throughout that entire decade). His rushing yards performance this year is a full 33% better than the second-best RB, and he’s doing it with an offensive line that is actually WORSE this year than last in many respects. I call that outstanding. And while I do think Kelly or Adams is a more likely overall winner of the award (given the league’s preference for QBs in the MOP debate), I don’t really think ANY QB set themselves apart with a season-for-the-ages as much as Oliveira did in his own season. Adams was probably the best, but not in a way that screams “no other QB will replicate this feat for another 10 years.” Oliveira’s consistency, his ability to will himself to 3 more yards than most other RBs could even DREAM of, his ability to seek out contact to HELP him to the first down marker…we are privileged to be witnessing the birth of an all-time great here, and while Zach is also an all-time great, this season, Brady performed at a higher level. He was more outstanding.
So I don’t think he’ll win MOP …but he absolutely should.