What will it take for another defensive player to win MVP? It seems as though the seasons through the NFL progress, quarterback after quarterback is named MVP, with defensive players never even getting consideration. Ever since Lawrence’s Taylor’s MVP winning season, there has never been another defensive player to win after, and only one other player before him, Alan Page in 1971, to win the MVP award since 1957. While the NFL gets more offensive by the year, and defensive players have to adjust constantly to produce results, defensive players fall further, and further out of the public eye. With constant rule changes per season, altering catch rules and how you can hit the quarterback, defense is being valued less, and offense is valued more. Sadly, the current state of the NFL means this probably won’t change anytime soon.
One of the central questions posed recently by those who debate sports, is whether or not defensive players should be valued more since offense is easier than ever to come by. Since we are in the 2018 season currently, offense is as common as ever, as of before week 7’s games, there are three teams averaging 30+ points per game, and another ten average 25+ points per game. Compare that to last season, and offense has clearly increased, as not a single team averaged over thirty points, and only eight averaged 25+ points per game. While the season is still young currently, and averages are likely to go up and down, the recent increase is undeniable, and more sustainable compared to last year. Mark Maske of The Washington Post states in his article “For the NFL there is no such thing as too much scoring” how offense through week 6 is at an all time high, and offense is at its easiest to come by. He states “The 4,489 points, 504 touchdowns and 328 touchdown passes recorded league wide thus far are the most ever, in each case, through six weeks of an NFL season” meaning that offense is at an all time high. It has also shown no signs of slowing down as of now, but many believe, such as the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent that, “They will adjust. I think as we start getting into that real playoff run, we’ll start seeing the points normalize itself.” With all these stats, opinions, and records in mind, the value of great defensive players should increase.
First of all, defense players have a harder job than ever in the game today. With a new catch rule, constant pass interference calls, and a now more strict roughing the passer penalty, no wonder so many more points are being scored, and even the best defensive players are having a hard time. With all the new additions of these rules, however, a player that still performs despite all these limitations, surely must get some consideration for Most Valuable Player Honors. With the current system in place, guys that are great now, are really great compared to a lot of great players before their time, yet they still get little to no consideration for MVP.
Second of all, that one, great, future hall of fame defensive player can not only change the outlook of an entire defense, but help the whole team as well. When you have a player that is that dominate at that position he plays on defense, he helps the rest of the entire defense play better meaning he’s most valuable. A great linebacker who plays the middle, can command the defense, cover receivers, and help tackle the quarterback or running back. A great defensive back can lock down parts of the field single handedly, forcing opposing offense to play around them and target another part of the field. Let’s not forget a dominant edge rusher, who can set the edge in the run game, as well as sack the quarterback and apply pressure leading to more turnovers and more opportunities for the offense. There have been great examples of players like this in the history of the NFL, and yet they never even sniff the opportunity to win that most valuable player trophy. For example, a corner like Deion Sanders, is considered by many to be the greatest ever, as he always locked down the opponent’s best receiver when asked to, and even provided value in the return game, as he held the record for most kickoff and punt return touchdowns in NFL history, until it was recently broken by Devin Hester. Deion Sanders never even won an MVP award even though you could tell, he was the best player on the field. Another great example would be Ray Lewis, who is also considered the greatest at his position and has never won an MVP even though he essentially ran the whole defense. As the middle guy, you tell your teammates to adjust, what the play is, and what they need to do to succeed, and while he was the first defensive player on the cover of madden, he never won an MVP award. As for an edge rusher, an amazing example is one that is occurring this season with Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears. The Raiders foolishly traded their best player in Khalil Mack off their team, and are now the worst team in the league. The Bears on the other hand, now have one of the league’s best defenses, and are at the top of their division likely to head to the playoffs. With Mack’s presence, the whole defense has performed better, going from a good defense last season, to an elite defense this year. This is a great example of how a defensive player can shape the whole outlook of a team, and the previous examples are guys in the hall of fame such as Ray Lewis, and Deion Sanders, who won super bowls because of their play. Yet continuously year in and year out, an offensive player wins the MVP award.
Maske, Mark. “Analysis | For the NFL, There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Scoring.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Oct. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/17/nfl-there-is-no-such-thing-too-much-scoring/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9584b174921a.
“NFL Team Points per Game.” NFL Football Stats – NFL Team Points per Game on TeamRankings.com, http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/points-per-game?date=2018-02-05.