What case can J.J. Watt make for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year?
It's an excellent one.
Watt goes up against two really good candidates in Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos. What makes Watt stand out?
There are a few criteria that should determine the best defensive player–applicable stats and importance to team.
Watt wins out on all of them.
J.J. Watt led the NFL in sacks with 20.5. Smith was right behind, with 19.5 and Miller had 18.5.
Watt had 81 tackles, way more than the 66 by Smith and the 68 by Miller.
The Texans star had 16 passes defended, while Smith had one and Miller had two.
I could go on. But it's pretty clear—in every important stat, Watt leads the way.
Ask yourself a simple question: Where would the Texans be without Watt?
It's pretty safe to say they might not have made the playoffs. The other defensive end for the Texans, Antonio Smith, had only seven sacks and 30 tackles.
Without Watt, there would be no real pass rush. Linebackers Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin combined for just 5.5 sacks.
It's pretty clear that the Texans needed Watt.
Now let's ask another question: Where would the 49ers be without Smith?
They would probably still be in the Super Bowl. In his last four games, Smith has no sacks and only 11 tackles.
He's been invisible in the playoffs and the 49ers have still succeeded.
Finally, where would the Broncos be without Miller?
The Broncos have another top defensive end in Elvis Dumervil, who had an impressive 11 sacks.
Watt is the one player who is indispensable to his team.
J.J. Watt not only has the best stats of his fellow candidates for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, but he is the most important to his team.
The results are clear—Watt should be the runaway choice for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.