Before the NFL’s award show last night, if you would have asked me who was going to win the Most Valuable Player award, I would have undoubtedly gone with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I mean, the NFL has truly become an offense mandatory, defense optional type of league (though it does pay to have a solid defense–just see Seattle), thanks in large part to fantasy football.
But if you ask me who should win the MVP, I, like so many other people, would say that the award should go to Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, despite the fact that his team didn’t quite end up in the postseason.
It’s hard to truly find another player who is both deserving of this award and has had as big of an impact as Watt has had with the Texans, not only just this season, but in prior years as well. Yes, Watt really exploded onto the national scene this year with his sacks, turnovers and versatility with his touchdowns receptions on offense, but it’s not like he’s hasn’t had a big impact for the Texans before.
In 2012, Watt posted a phenomenal season with 81 combined tackles with 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also added 16 pass deflections, a pretty big number for a defensive lineman, which is where he rightfully earned the “J.J. Swat” nickname. And while his statistics that following season, with only 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, it shows that what happened this year is nothing new, nor is it just a fluke,
Of course, they don’t hand out awards based on what’s happened in prior years (or at least the voters “shouldn’t” be doing that). But that hardly weakens Watts’ case. This year, Watt became the first player in NFL history, or at least since the league counted recorded sacks as a statistic, to total 20 sacks or more in two season as he repeated his 20.5 sack total from 2012. He also recorded a returned fumble for a touchdown as well as an interception return for a touchdown–which went for 80 yards–and posted ten pass deflections. He then took it to the next level with three receiving touchdowns as a tight end.
And it’s not too far of a stretch to say that Watt almost single-handedly kept Houston in the playoff race. The Texans struggled heavily on offense, which wasn’t helped by the fact that they had three different starting quarterbacks, so most of the burden fell on the defense. And at the center of it all was Watt being a menace for opposing offensive lines.
Of course, quarterbacks get all of the glory and all of the blame these days and Rodgers certainly had a solid season this year with 4,381 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a 82.6 QBR, which, according to ESPN, is really pretty good. And Rodgers got his team to postseason, which probably was the difference between him and Watt in the eyes of many voters.
But Watt was equally deserving of the award because he is the Houston Texan. While the Packers would likely struggle without Rodgers, the Texans would likely be nothing this season without Watt. And that should have been enough for Watt to break the offense’s strangled hold on the MVP award.