Why Are Defensive Players Forgotten When it Comes to NFL MVP?

Jeff Little@@JeffLittle32Senior Writer IDecember 2, 2008

Every year the NFL names a league MVP and right or wrong it is always a talented and deserving offensive player.


In my book I think that is wrong to in a sense say that the most valuable player of the league is always on the offensive side of the ball and in a sense decreasing the importance of the defense.


Just the same as when someone starts a statement off with “I don’t mean to offend …” trust me someone is about to be offended.


It is a known fact that offense will put butts in the seats and fill a stadium but it is also a well known fact that defense wins championships.


Consider this article as my argument that this practice of the league MVP always being an offensive player needs to change and defensive players need to be recognized as just as important as offensive players.


The league MVP award started out as the Joe F. Carr trophy bearing the name of the league president from 1921 – 39, it was awarded from 1938 through 1946.


United Press International; better known as UPI, handed out a singular MVP award from 1948 – 1969.  In 1970 UPI decided to split the award and hand out one for the AFC and another for the NFC.


The first defensive player of the year award was handed out by UPI as well for both the NFC and AFC in 1975.


I have a strong belief that defense was just as important to a teams success then, as it is now and that there were defensive players of the year per team long before and after 1975.


There are a few other organizations that have a say or factor into who wins the award; they are the Associated Press, The Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, Pro Football Writers of America and the Newspaper Enterprise Association.


Also magazines such as Pro Football Weekly and the Sporting News have a League MVP award.


In a sense the argument needs to be heard by these groups more than anyone else.


However giving credit where credit is due, the Associated Press took the initiative to correct this problem and named Defensive Tackle Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings their league MVP in 1971.


The organization repeated the act again when it named Outside Linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants the League MVP in 1986. The Pro Football Writers of America followed suit and also named the original LT as the League MVP the same year.


These two Hall of Fame defensive players were very deserving of League MVP awards for what they did for the game in their day although the closest both got to achieve their just due as far as recognition was the Defensive Player of the year award. 


Beyond being known as a champion, in professional football this is the highest recognition a defensive player can achieve.


The 2008 season is almost finished and there are several people that will be considered for defensive player of the year honors.


The interesting thing is that the leading candidates this season will include some talented and deserving Outside Linebackers, Safeties and Cornerbacks but the guys that have made the most significant impact to their teams have been the big guys in the trenches Defensive Tackles and Nose Tackles.


The majority of these guys won’t be mentioned when it comes to league MVP or Defensive Player of the year honors but they’ve made some noise and have been instrumental in their team’s defensive performance.


There are more than a few things that they’ve in common.


Their teams are among the top twelve defenses in the league.  


The numbers that they’ve allowed opposing running games sound like radio station locations on the far left hand side of the dial and their individual statistics don’t tell the entire story of what they’ve been able to accomplish so I’ll deal with their overall impact on their teams.


These guys are important cogs in their team’s defenses and important factors in their team’s success. Every team runs the ball when a team can limit the effectiveness of an opponents running game it drastically alters an opposing teams game plan.


These guys have controlled the middle of the defense and have caused sleepless nights for several head coaches and offensive coordinators.


These guys have sacrificed themselves so much that their teammates at other positions were able to make plays all over the field. Things like these make them worthy enough to be considered for league MVP and at the very least Defensive players of the year.


My Nominees are:


Kris JenkinsNT - New York Jets: Facing a constant double-team on nearly every play he has controlled the middle and stopped the opponents running game, collapsed the pocket and get after the QB. He has helped turnaround the Jets defense.


He does an excellent job of occupying blockers to allow his linebackers to make tackles. The Jets defense gave up 134.8 in 2007 is now allowing a very stingy 82.1 yards per game making them the fourth best team against the run.


He has been playing lights out all season and without his addition to the franchise the team wouldn’t be in first place in the AFC East.


Haloti Ngata – NT/DE - Baltimore Ravens: He also faces a constant double-team on nearly every play and can control the middle and stop the opponents running game.


He also does an excellent job of occupying blockers, collapsing the pocket so his linebackers can make plays but he has also showed the versatility to play DE creating a mismatch and get after the passer in the Ravens defense which ranks third in the league at stopping the run at 78.2 yards per game.


Albert Haynesworth – DT/DE  – Tennessee Titans: He also faces a constant double-team on nearly every play, he can control the middle and stop the opponents running game, occupy blockers so his linebackers can make plays as well as collapsing the pocket.


He has also shown the versatility to play DE creating a mismatch and still get after the passer.  The Titans have one of the top rated defenses in the league and are currently rank number 12 at stopping the run allowing a stingy 92.4 yards per game.


Casey Hampton – NT – Pittsburgh Steelers: He also faces a constant double-team on nearly every play, he can control the middle and stop the opponents running game the Steelers lead the league in that category allowing 71.2 yards per game topping last season’s 89.9 yards per game.


He consistently occupies blockers so the linebackers, safeties and corners can make plays.


Kevin Williams – DT – Minnesota Vikings: He is one half of one of the most dominant DT tandems in the league.  He is an All-Pro selection and an immoveable object. He controls the middle and stops the opponents running game.


Pat Williams – DT – Minnesota Vikings: He is the other half of one of the leagues most dominant DT tandems. He is also a key reason the Vikings defense has become so dominant. He gets double-teamed nearly every play or gives the opposing offense the choice of who to double-team.


He does and excellent job or occupying blockers so his linebackers can make tackles. The Vikings tandem was great at stopping the run but not at getting after the passer.


Most teams decided that running was lost cause and passed on the team; enter free agent addition DE Jared Allen. His 40 tackles, 31 solo and 11 sacks as well as 2 forced fumbles have brought the needed pass rush.  


My vote would go to Kris Jenkins due to the fact that he has had a huge part in the Jets turnaround by helping the defense turn the corner.


To be able to take a defense that gave up on average 135 yards per game and to shave 53 yards off of that number is phenomenal. When this defensive stat is added to one of the league’s best running games and being led by a hall of fame quarterback make the New York Jets legit and a playoff contender.


This statement couldn’t be said without the addition of NT Kris Jenkins.