Watt deserves NFL MVP honors

Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt catches a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Mallett in the first quarter of the Browns 23-7 loss to the Texans on Nov. 16. Watt has caught three touchdown this season, in addition to two defensive touchdowns.

By Peter Bailey-Wells

It’s terribly interesting to talk about football. Somehow I manage to do it every week in this column, but for a while, I’ve virtually ignored what might be the biggest on-field story of the NFL in 2014.

J.J. Watt is a monster.

Actually, I take that back. He’s a “Manster,” part man and part monster. Off the field, the Houston Texans defensive end appears to be affable: not as nutty as Rob Gronkowski and not as funny as Peyton Manning, but likeable nonetheless.

On the field he’s terrifying. And that’s why he should be the NFL MVP.

Gronk, who might be Watt’s only competition for most impressive physical specimen in the NFL, has been the Patriots’ MVP because of his ability both as a pass catcher and run blocker. But he’s not Watt. No one is.

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Watt’s Texans stand at 6-6, second in the AFC South. Without Watt, the Texans might be among the NFL’s worst teams. Watt leads the team with 11.5 sacks — tied for fifth in the league. He also leads the NFL in fumbles recovered, with five. Every play Watt lines up on the field, whether on defense or offense (offense? Keep reading), he’s a threat to make a game changing play.

This season, Watt was supposed to line up opposite the No. 1 overall pick, Jadaveon Clowney. With Clowney on one side of the line and Watt on the other, the Texans’ pass rush was going to be unstoppable. Instead, Clowney has spent much of the season injured and Watt has flown solo, often drawing double teams.

It doesn’t matter, as the 25-year-old has put up his best season to date, already surpassing his sack total from last season, and recording his first career defensive touchdowns. But Watt hasn’t just scored on defense.

The Texans are 4-1 when Watt has scored a touchdown. He has scored five times this season: once on a fumble recovery, once on an interception return, and three times on receptions. Employed as a goal-line tight end, Watt has rumbled out of the backfield and used his enormous hands (think baseball gloves) to reel in all three of the passes thrown in his direction — two of which were caught in spectacular fashion.

But what about Aaron Rodgers? The field general of the NFC’s best team has been seemingly unstoppable since he told the Green Bay Packers’ fan base to “R-E-L-A-X” after the team’s 1-2 start. His team just knocked off the Patriots, considered the best team in the NFL prior to visiting Lambeau Field.

Rodgers has been good, but the Packers have other weapons. The Texans had the worst record in the NFL last season, and this season, despite the absence of their No. 1 pick (Clowney), the team is at .500 and isn’t out of the playoff hunt. Watt deserves much of the credit for that — his team probably will have zero other Pro Bowlers at the end of the season.

The MVP should be measured primarily by how replaceable a player is. That’s why Gronk or Watt is more deserving of the award than Rodgers, Tom Brady or reigning MVP Manning. Those three quarterbacks are relatively interchangeable — put any of them with another’s team, ignore change of scheme and their team would probably win.

Gronk is semi-replaceable (the Patriots have managed without him), but Watt (who hasn’t missed a single game in his NFL career) doesn’t have an equal in the NFL. No player could fill his spot and have a similar impact on the Texans’ season.

That’s why he’s the real MVP. No one can match up with the Manster. 

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PBaileyWells.