The Pro Football Writers Association announced their Defensive MVP and his name is not TJ Watt. Instead, the award went to Los Angeles Rams’ DT Aaron Donald. In their explanation of Donald’s selection, they wrote:
“Donald started all 16 games and had 45 total tackles (27 solo), 14 tackles for loss, a team-leading 13.5 sacks for minus-86 yards, 26 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He had 10 games with at least one-half sack and eight contests with one sack or more. Donald’s career-high four-sack game for minus-23 yards in Week 5 at Washington earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He was selected to the PFWA’s 2020 All-NFL and All-NFC teams.”
Donald is a legendary, generational player, there’s no arguing that but TJ Watt has a compelling case to make as the league’s best and most valuable defender. Watt led the league in sacks, only the second Steeler to ever do so, finishing with 15 despite playing in just 15 games. He was held out of the regular season finale. Watt also finished the year with a league-high 23 tackles for loss, nine more than Donald to go along with two forced fumbles and an interception. He had 11 games with at least a half-sack, one more than Donald.
Hopefully, Watt can earn the NFL Defensive MVP Award when they’re announced at NFL Honors the day before the Super Bowl. But this is a reminder that though Steelers’ fans think Watt is a lock for the award, there are other contenders. Donald’s numbers aren’t quite as good but he sees as much attention as any defender in football. Miami CB Xavien Howard is a sleeper after leading the league with ten interceptions in 2020.
The PFWA also named QB Aaron Rodgers’ their 2020 MVP while RB Derrick Henry took home Offensive Player of the Year honors. Only one Steeler has ever been named the association’s Defensive Player of the Year. That was James Harrison in 2008.