TJ Watt DPOY
(Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports)

With the end of the NFL season, the league’s best players were rewarded. Unfortunately, like most years, there is controversy. The Rams’ Aaron Donald has just won his third DPOY award, however, he did not deserve it. This year TJ Watt deserved to be the DPOY. He had the stats and ability to prove it, however, like most years the big names won the awards.

TJ Watt finished the 2020 season with 53 tackles, 41 QB hits, 15 sacks, and 23 tackles. All stats that are higher than Aaron Donald. Not only that Watt also tallied two forced fumbles, an interception, and seven deflected passes. Donald only bested Watt in one basic stat, forced fumbles. However, in every other arena, Watt not only dominated, but he did so in fewer games.

Many that are for Donald argue that he is constantly triple and double-teamed against interior offensive lineman. Therefore, he has more of an impact on the football game. Despite this being true, with Donald having a 70 percent double team percentage compared to Watt’s 15 percent, it does not tell the whole story.

Donald gets doubled teamed because he is a defensive tackle. He rushes on 99 percent of his snaps. TJ Watt plays linebacker. In 2020, over 10 percent of his snaps were in coverage against wide receivers and tight ends. This ultimately led to his interception and 7 defended passes, which was second among all linebackers, including purely coverage linebackers. That stat does not even include when he does not rush, but merely sets the edge against teams with mobile QBs and strong rushing attacks. He does not rush as much as Donald, therefore he does not have as many opportunities to make plays. Yet he still does.

Yes, Aaron Donald is the best pass rusher in the NFL. There is no doubt about it. However, that does not make him the best defensive player. TJ Watt is setting the edge, rushing the QB, and at times covering WR1s, and still winning. He is effectively playing three different positions and is still one of the best in the league at all three.

Aaron Donald is a dominant player and the best pass rusher in the league. But being the best pass rusher does not make you the defensive player of the year. TJ Watt has dominated all season, in more areas than one, which is more than what Donald can say for himself. TJ Watt deserved to be the DPOY, but yet again he was robbed.

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