Settling the NFL MVP Debate
Apologies to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers fans, but JJ Watt should win the 2014 NFL MVP.
If you’re up in arms that I’m not addressing Tom Brady, Tony Romo or Russell Wilson, take your righteous indignation somewhere else. Sure, they’ve had great seasons, but c’mon – it’s between Rodgers and Watt.
And yeah, Rodgers has a great argument. He threw 38 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions, compiled 4,381 yards, and put up a studly 112.2 QB rating. That means he threw more than seven touchdowns for every interception, an otherworldly figure for anyone not named Rodgers, Brady or Manning. But that’s the thing. He has put up these numbers before, better ones even. In 2011, when he won the league MVP, Rodgers threw for more yards, more TDs and just one more interception. He also had a higher QB rating.
Unfortunately, that’s the QB advantage. You don’t have to put up record breaking numbers – or even your personal best – to win MVP. The quarterback position is clearly the most important position on the football field, and maybe in all of sports, in terms of wins/losses added. As a result, quarterbacks enjoy greater notoriety, and media members rightfully consider them first in MVP voting.
But let’s really look at this. In 2012, the year after Rodgers won the MVP in 2011, Rodgers had another great year. He threw for 38 TDs, just 8 interceptions, 4,295 yards, and had a 108.0 passer rating. But he didn’t even sniff the MVP award, despite recording similar numbers to 2014. Why? Because he had won the year before, and because of the exhaustion factor – fans were a little tired of hearing about Rodgers by that point, and Adrian Peterson offered a newer, more exciting story, while Peyton Manning came second after returning to the field following four neck surgeries.
And that’s another thing that could (and maybe should) hurt Rodgers. Even though he had a great season, he didn’t quite distance himself enough with his season-long performance. As I mentioned, quarterbacks Brady, Wilson and Romo all had terrific seasons in different ways.
Now let’s look at Watt, my pick for most deserving the MVP award. Negative stuff first: statistically, 2014 wasn’t his best season as a pro; 2012 was. And yes, Watt’s Texans aren’t going to the playoffs, while the other candidates, including Rodgers, are. But that’s just taking this thing at face-value. Look at what he did! In 2014, Watt recorded 20.5 sacks, making him the first player in NFL history with two season of 20-plus sacks. That, by itself, is ridiculous, especially when you consider that Watt doesn’t just pin his ears back and rush the QB – he plays the run too, making 78 combined tackles. Remember, other sack gurus in NFL history, players like Bruce Smith and Lawrence Taylor, never played the run, and still failed to record multiple 20 sack seasons. Also consider that Watt was named an All Pro this year – twice. He made the first team as a defensive end, and, incredibly, the second team as a defensive tackle, based purely on situational plays. Pondering all this? Feeling a little overwhelmed? There’s more. Watt returned an interception for a touchdown, a fumble for a touchdown, he grabbed three receiving scores – because why ignore his offensive talent? – and added 10 passes defensed.
So yeah, the quarterback position may be more important, but Watt did just about everything humanly possible to help his team win. The last defensive to win the league MVP, Lawrence Taylor in 1986, recorded 20.5 sacks. But he did not score five touchdowns that year, and he never broke 20 sacks again. Rodgers had a great season, there’s no denying that. But it’s Watt’s season that will be remembered 25 years from now.
If you ask me who I think will win the 2014 NFL MVP, I’ll answer Rodgers. He’s the quarterback, and he was instrumental in helping his team make the playoffs. But if you ask me who do I think should win the 2014 NFL MVP, I’ve gotta go Watt.