Research Paper – Ivonid12

We Should get Defensive

Why does the NFL always disrespect defensive players in the MVP voting?  Elite defensive players are in many ways more valuable than a good quarterback and should be considered every season for MVP. What will it take for another defensive player to win MVP? It is becoming more of a proven fact that as the seasons through the NFL progress, quarterback after quarterback, and sometimes a running-back, is named MVP with defensive players never even getting consideration. Alan Page won the MVP award in 1971, and Lawrence Taylor in 1986, and not another defensive player before or since, in 52 years of MVP awards! 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. Every season, rules are changed to favor the offense: casual touches by defenders are called “pass interference”; accidentally grazing the quarterback is called “roughing the passer.” Fans love scoring, long drives, marching down the field to sticking the game-winner in the back of the end zone, and the NFL knows it. Year after year, offense is valued more, and defense gets disrespected. Sadly, the economic model of the NFL means this probably won’t change.

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”, concluding that these changes are certainly the new league wide trend. 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 defense might adjust stating, “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, as 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 modern offensive 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 dominant 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.

The MVP trophy in any sport always goes to who is considered the best player in the league that year, and on their team. It is a measure of the players great accomplishments in comparison to the rest of the best in their league. The competition is always fierce, but every year a player is voted by the Associated Press and is deemed the best, In the NFL, the league is disgustingly biased towards quarterbacks in their voting, as in the league’s history, exactly one defensive player player won the MVP award, with a few cases of running backs able to win the award as well. The absolute dismissal of the defensive player in recognition is disrespectful, and must end as soon as possible. Without a defense with great players, the quarterback wouldn’t nearly have the same success as he would with a bad defense. A great defensive player creates opportunities for that great quarterback and team, as without those opportunities by that great defensive player, the  quarterback cannot make his great plays possible.

The objective of any defense in the NFL is easy in concept. Get the opposing team’s offense off the field so the offense go and put points on the board. The best way to do that is to force a turnover. Whether it is a sack, fumble recovery, interception, or touchdown, the defense forcing turnovers is what provides an offense with the best chance to succeed. According to past history, a majority of MVP quarterbacks are those with defenses that force a good amount of turnovers. For example, in 2010, Tom Brady was the  first unanimously voted MVP in NFL history, and had an amazing year leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Brady was undoubtedly great, but his defense gave him plenty of opportunities, as the 2010 New England Patriots were second in turnovers on defense. The 2010 New England Patriots had many great defensive players that season, however as with most great defenses, the defensive got a significant boost from their best player. According to Pro Football Reference, Devin McCourty, a defensive back, on his own forced nine of the 38 turnovers the Patriots forced as a team, as he had seven interceptions, and two forced fumbles. McCourty forced just a hair under a quarter of his team’s turnovers by himself, yet he wasn’t even considered as an MVP candidate as opposed to his quarterback teammate. Another prime example of a quarterback’s great offensive season overshadowing an even better and more valuable performance by a defensive player is the 2011 Green Bay Packers, and their MVP winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The great defensive performance that season was by future hall of fame defensive back Charles Woodson who, in comparison to McCourty mentioned before, had an even better year. In 2011, Woodson led the league in interceptions with seven, had two sacks, forced a fumble, and even scored a touchdown on defense, all at the age of 35. Woodson had an absolutely outstanding season at the very old age of 35 as a defensive back, yet he received no consideration for MVP. Also, due to the performance of the defense and Woodson, the Packers were also third in starting field position as a team, undeniably caused by the defensive contributions of Woodson. Woodson undeniably impacted his team the most that year, and was easily the best and most valuable player on the filed for his team. Yet despite his efforts, was never considered for MVP as his teammate took home the award.

Turnovers are crucial to winning a football game. It is also crucial to win MVP for a quarterback. In fact, for 75% of the teams in which the NFL MVP came from since the 2000 to 2017 seasons, the team was in the upper half of the league for turnovers. The NFL MVP must’ve had a defense providing plenty of opportunities for the offense, further cementing the fact that defenses and its stars deserve more credit, and are more valuable. If the defense provides more opportunities for the offense, the offense succeeds as a whole. Along with turnovers comes the field position that they provide. Usually when defenses give up points, the kickoff sets the offense on the 25 yard-line to start their next drive due to a touchback, unless the returner decides to make a return in which it could be more or less field position. However, if a turnover is made, a majority of the time the offense gets great field position. With great field position, not only can the defense demoralize the opponent after a turnover, the ability to score is so much easier.  The less field you have to drive down, the easier it is to score, all caused by a great play made in the defense. Turnovers also negatively impact the opposing team’s defense as well. We’re all humans playing in the NFL, and we only have a certain amount of energy before we need a break to refresh and maintain our abilities. Whenever defenses force a turnover, that break the defense could so desperately need is cut short, and now they’re back on the field to try and stop that offense. With less time for a break however, their chances of stopping that offense diminish further. The quarterback cannot make plays and put up stats if never given enough opportunities. Additionally the quarterback can make more plays and given a better chance to put up numbers if given great field position. Lastly, opposing defenses cannot make plays if the great defenses always bring them back on the field.

However, undoubtedly the most biased and disrespectful case for a defensive player not winning MVP was for J.J Watt of the Houston Texans in 2014. J.J Watt accounted for a majority of the Houston Texan’s production in 2014, and was easily the main cause for their winning record. Watt had an unbelievable season in 2014, as he notched twenty and a half sacks, four forced fumbles, recovered five fumbles, lead the league in tackles for a loss with 29, scored a touchdown with an interception as a defensive lineman, and to top it all off, scored three more touchdowns playing offense. When has a NFL quarterback produced on both sides of the ball, dominating on one, and being quite productive on the other? J.J Watt was easily the most valuable player on any field in 2014,  and while he did receive votes for MVP, he still ultimately lost out to Aaron Rodgers in 2014. Watt’s season was greater than Lawrence Taylor’s MVP season, in an era of more productive offenses, yet he still didn’t receive the credit he deserved.

Defensive stars are undoubtedly the best players on the field, and deserve more recognition for MVP. Not only due their defensive efforts cause more opportunities for the offense, defenses have the ability to score and put up points as well. It is time we recognize those truly great defensive seasons for what they are, a representation of the most valuable player on the field that season.

With so much value, stats, and versatility from defensive stars, voters still gravitate towards quarterbacks every year. Even though defensive stars are much more valuable in many factors, it is easy to see why quarterbacks get so much recognition. Former quarterback Steve Young, now an NFL Analyst, shares the same opinion with a lot a fans and those who have the opinion on why quarterbacks are the most valuable.  Young states, “The great quarterbacks get everyone together, when it’s third and 10 in the fourth quarter, down by four on the road in the drizzling rain in 33 degrees. You have to be a guy that people will respond to.” While it is true that the quarterback is unquestionably the leader of the offense, the defensive captain does the same as well. A defensive captain is more of a team leader than a quarterback as their play has more of an impact to both sides of the ball. Young also states, “I’ve gone to law school, and the intellectual challenge of honing all of the data in a way that you can have immediate, you can have reflexive recall — not taking a couple seconds to think about it. But that’s five, 10, 30 times more time than you get in football. And you have to do it from the time you step on the field until you step off of it.” Once again, Young’s argument on quarterbacks having to make decisions in a extremely small amount of time isn’t wrong and is certainly difficult, however, quarterbacks get the whole play clock to diagnose the field ahead of them, while defensive players get mere micro-seconds. Many great quarterbacks such as Brady, Brees, and Manning are great because of their pre-snap diagnosis of the defense and are able to find the weak spots in the defense. Defensive players do not get the same ability to study what their opponent is doing pre-play, and mostly have to react to what happens before their eyes. Every play the defense is at an immediate disadvantage in comparison to the offense, because their diagnosis is more of an educated guess. Quarterbacks are also given designated reads as well, as the NFL is more coach driven than ever. Before every pass play the quarterback has his “go to read” as his main option, designed by the coaching and system the quarterback has in place for him. If the quarterback doesn’t like his first read, there’s always his second or third, and if the pass play doesn’t seem like the best option, he can always switch it to the run. In addition,  quarterbacks in the league are more system driven than ever before. The NFL is filled with plenty of young, strategic, and brilliant offensive minds in the league right now, and it is undeniable what their impact is on young quarterbacks in the league right now. A great example of how much a new offensive system can benefit a quarterback is two of the better young quarterbacks in the league in Jared Goff, and Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky and Goff were number two, and number one picks respectively, had different coaches their rookie seasons, and are now much more successful after struggling their rookie seasons. Jared Goff came in the league with the now unemployed Jeff Fisher as his head coach, and struggled mightily in his rookie season, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. Ever since Sean McVay was hired in 2017, Goff has performed as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, as he is now a MVP candidate with his team having one of the best records in the league. The same could be said for Mitchell Trubisky, as the hiring of now head coach Matt Nagy has kick-started his career after the bad struggles with former head coach John Fox. Trubisky has performed like one of the better quarterbacks in the league, since the hiring of Coach Nagy, and his career is for sure on the upswing. In contrast, defensive players do not have this same luxury as quarterbacks, mainly because their performance is much more predicated on their talent. Defensive systems do not nearly affect defensive stars in comparison to offensive systems, as great defensive players stay great on different teams. Deion Sanders played at a high level for three different teams, and is arguably the greatest all time at his position. There’s a reason most franchise quarterbacks stay with teams and coaches for most their career, as the offensive systems the quarterbacks are given is a major reason for their success. Plenty of defensive players have switched teams and have remained just as great.

Lastly, quarterbacks by far touch the ball the most out of any position on the field, as unless it is a direct snap to a different position, the whole offense runs through the quarterback. With the league becoming more pass heavy by the season, quarterbacks now throw the ball more than ever, leading to an inflation in stats and attention. If you compare the pass attempts per game for every team in the NFL in 2018 to 2008, there are a few teams that pass 40+ times a game, and rarely any that pass under thirty. In 2008, no team passed over 40 times a game, and the average pass attempts per game for every team was about 32.35 attempts per game. In 2018, that average has increased to 34.89, and could become higher as the season progresses. With the increase of screen passes and check downs, in recent years, quarterbacks get rewarded more than ever with a pass that barely travels five yards. In comparison to defenses, there are no easy plays to be made, and require the fast thinking and talent of making an interception or forcing a fumble.  Quarterbacks have to have some semblance of knowledge and ability, but with constantly evolving offensive systems, and more time than any other position, they receive much more credit than they really do deserve.

Defensive stars are undoubtedly the best players on the field, and deserve more recognition for MVP. Not only due their defensive efforts cause more opportunities for the offense, defenses have the ability to score and put up points as well. It is time we recognize those truly great defensive seasons for what they are, a representation of the most valuable player on the field that season.


  1. “2010 New England Patriots Statistics & Players.” Pro-Football-Reference.com

2. “2011 Green Bay Packers Statistics & Players.” Pro-Football-Reference.com

4. “J.J. Watt Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com

5. “NFL Team Points per Game.” NFL Football Stats – NFL Team Points per Game on TeamRankings.com

6. Maske, Mark. “For the NFL, There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Scoring.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Oct. 2018,

7. “2000 Baltimore Ravens Statistics & Players.” Pro-Football-Reference.com

8. 28, January. “Steve Young: Quarterback Is the Most Important Position in Football.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2012,

9. “Mitchell Trubisky Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com

10. “Jared Goff Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com



7 thoughts on “Research Paper – Ivonid12”

  1. You said the quarterback is considered most important because he handles the ball longer than any other player, which made me wonder whether in basketball the point guard (who handles the ball longer than any other player and who also, like a quarterback, sizes up the defense, makes adjustments, and “passes” the ball like a quarterback to the open receiver, or “rushes” to the basket like a running back. Right?) has been awarded the MVP honors more often than other players.

    Click to access cf270e9d829a5dc0b375f38897c11006d5b3.pdf

    Here’s more:

    And more:

    And more:;2-G

    Sometimes, if you can’t find the exact sources you’re looking for, it means you’re a pioneer in a new investigation. (Frustrating, maybe, but also good news. You can offer something new!) When that happens, look for sources in a related topic of field. Then make your analogy. (If it’s true in frigid Sweden, it should be true in Scandinavia’s other arctic democracy, Finland.) Substitute the NBA and the NFL.


  2. “When it comes to” is a crutch that speakers use when they’ve started their sentences wrong. Writers who choose the right subject never need it.

    Why doesn’t the NFL consider defensive players when it comes to MVP voting?

    But instead:

    Why does the NFL always disrespect defensive players in the MVP voting?


    Why can’t the most valuable defensive player be voted the NFL’s MVP?

    Small point, but something to think about.


  3. What does this mean?

    It seems as though the seasons through the NFL progress

    WAY too many time cues here:

    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.

    To indicate time or sequence, you used “Ever since,” and “never,” and “another,” and “after,” and “before,” and “in 1971,” and “since 1957.”

    Or you could say:

    Alan Strong won the MVP award in 1957, and Lawrence Taylor in 1971, and not another defensive player before or since, in 50 years of MVP awards!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do not assume that your reader understands the implications of your evidence, Ivonid. Be a good tour guide. SHOW and TELL the consequences.

    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.

    OR, the guided tour:

    Every season, rules are changed to favor the offense: casual touches by defenders are called “pass interference”; accidentally grazing the quarterback is called “roughing the passer.” Fans love scoring, long drives, marching down the field to sticking the game-winner in the back of the end zone, and the NFL knows it. Year after year, offense is valued more, and defense gets disrespected. Sadly, the economic model of the NFL means this probably won’t change.

    See the difference? Substituting specific claims for “altering catch rules” and “how you can hit the quarterback” forces the details of your argument, taking away the chance that your reader will visualize something that DOESN’T HELP your argument.


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