Wade Phillips: “They’re not going to give [MVP] to a defensive player”

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In this season of unprecedented offensive football output, talk recently has emerged of a defensive player earning the league MVP award. But the man who runs the defense for which Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald plays doesn’t see it happening.

Unless he’s engaging in reverse psychology.

“Yeah, they’re not going to give it to a defensive player, in my opinion,” Wade Phillips told reporters on Thursday. “Quarterbacks are always the guy that — and probably well deserved — they cause a lot of points. It’s harder on defense to say, ‘Hey, man, he stopped him from scoring how many times or how many points he’s accounted for.’ But, [Aaron has] actually accounted for a lot of points because he’s stopped drives or he’s caused fumbles, all those things. But you don’t see that in the defensive player stats and so forth, so I think it’s always going to be an offensive player, pretty much. I think the only chance that any player would have and Aaron would have would be to set the all-time record for sacks or something like that. We’re glad we have him and whether he gets the MVP or Todd Gurley gets it, we really don’t care.”

Last year, Donald became the defensive player of the year and Gurley won the offensive player of the year award. This year, they could split votes, opening the door for someone from another team to win it. Unless the voters who are inclined to give the award for the Rams get together ahead of the official vote (there’s a word for that but it slips my mind) and pick one specific Ram for whom to vote.

And it could be Donald, especially if he surpasses Michael Strahan’s single-season* record of 22.5 sacks. But even if Donald falls short of that mark, he’s only 1.5 sacks away from the record for sacks by an interior defensive lineman, set by Keith Millard in 1989.

Rams coach Sean McVay was less pessimistic about Donald’s prospects that Phillips.

“I think if the voters determine that that’s the case, then certainly it could happen,” McVay told reporters on Thursday. “If it happens to be somebody that we’re working with, no one would be more excited and happy for Aaron than we would as an organization. But, for us, the best part about it is our guys are focused on what they can do to contribute for our team. Certainly, he’s made a huge impact on the game. I think a lot of it really goes back to just playing good football, getting better every single day. He certainly has done that, but a lot of it is an interpretation thing, ‘Most Valuable Player.’ Do you deem that based on the impact you’re making on the game? Are you saying that somebody that touches the ball every single play is the most valuable based on the nature of the position? So I think it’s really left for interpretation, but I know this: Aaron Donald is playing outstanding football. He has been instrumental in a lot of the big plays that have occurred as a result of us winning football games because of the defense coming through in some crunch-time situations. It’s not by coincidence that 99 is usually in the middle of all of that and it starts with his preparation. He sure is a talented player as well.”

The current favorites for the award are Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, not necessarily in that order. The reality is that, with 25 percent of the season still to play, the winner won’t truly come into focus until the season ends, the stats are finalized, and the playoff seedings are set.

Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page won the MVP award in 1971, and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor captured the prize in 1986. The year Strahan racked up 22.5 sacks, Rams quarterback Kurt Warner won his second MVP award in three years.

12 responses to “Wade Phillips: “They’re not going to give [MVP] to a defensive player”

  1. Donald doesn’t deserve it this year. I saw him against a journeyman guard get 2 sacks in the 4th quarter otherwise you wouldn’t know AD and Suh were out there. Millard was a more dominate tackle than Donald.

  2. Yeah, and it was the same thing against San Francisco. Other than Donald’s six tackles for a loss and four sacks against the 49ers, you wouldn’t know he was out there.

  3. Yeah, Donald doesn’t “elevate” the Rams defense, but he is carrying them. Name another Ram defender who deserves to go to the Pro Bowl this year.

    They don’t give MVPs to defensive guys. Nevertheless he’s got DPOY on lockdown and after just five years in the league, will bring the score to five Pro Bowls, four All Pros, two DPOYS and a DROY.

    Rams Mt Rushmore of defensive players; Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Jack Youngblood and Aaron Donald.

  4. Mahomes may break the all-time passing TD mark and his team may break the all-time scoring record. The MVP is his to lose. Donald is s key member of an average defense. Yes, individually he is great but obviously his value is limited if he can be on the losing end of a game his team scores 35 points. They rank 18th in defense by yards allowed and 19th by points allowed. I don’t deny Donald’s great, but the Rams are great because they have a great offense (ranked 2nd in both yards and points). He plays on the weak link of his team. Could it be weaker? Maybe. But it’s hard to imagine it being that much worse. Take away Goff or Gurley and I think the drop off to their backup is a lot more noticeable in the Rams’ offensive output than taking Donald out of their defense would be to their defensive performance.

  5. In 1997, defensive standout Charles Woodson won the Heisman over offensive standout Peyton Manning. Like Aaron Donald, Woodson could dominate on defense. But he probably would not have won without his punt returns and offensive cameos.

    Sadly, Donald may need to line up at FB and score to get real consideration.

  6. MVP? He is not even the best player on his team, yes he is a monster sack machine, but garbage against the run. It goes Todd Gurley Jared Goff and then Aaron Donald on that team.

  7. If you want to gauge how good he is as an individual player, just look at the amount of time he is double teamed compared to the other sack leaders.

    Donald 73% Double Teamed 16.5 Sacks
    Miller 28% Double Teamed 12.5 sacks
    Jones 27% Double Teamed 12 sacks
    Pierre-Paul 27% Double Teamed 12 sacks
    Watt 45% Double Teamed 11.5 sacks
    Hunter 34% Double Teamed 11.5 sacks

    This shows his individual dominance, and makes a strong case for MVP. Probably won’t happen, but the numbers support that he should be considered

  8. I love Donald. I think he is a generational talent. However I think you have to apply the old ‘if you take them away from their team what would happen?’ logic here. If you take him off the Rams would their record tank by 5-6 wins? I think that is unlikely. If you take Mahomes off the Chiefs or Brees off the Saints would their record tank? I think that answer is a solid yes.

    Donald is deserving of the DPOY without a doubt. But MVP? I don’t agree.

  9. Donald should be considered ONLY on his ability to change the direction of a game and to turn a losing game into a winning one. He failed miserably already on the loss. He actually rides the coattails of a superior offense and really does not change the game results. The quarterback and other offensive players are clearly more dominant.

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