Even with a compelling three-horse race, Myles Garrett’s DPOY candidacy stands out. Throughout the season, Garrett has been neck and neck with Micah Parsons and T.J. Watt as the betting favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year. It has turned into one of the most compelling award races in the NFL this year. But while Parsons has been the favorite for most of the year, Garrett is more deserving of the award.
Why Myles Garrett Should Win Defensive Player of the Year
While he may not be currently listed among the greatest defensive players in NFL history, Garrett is starting to put himself in that conversation.
He’s come close to being Defensive Player of the Year in recent seasons. But Myles Garrett’s stats this season and the impact he’s made on the field to put the Browns in a position to make the playoffs should be more than enough to give him Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2023.
Building Toward DPOY
Obviously, it’s not right for a player’s past to influence awards for the 2023 season. But there is no question that Garrett has been building toward becoming the best defensive player in the NFL for the last few seasons. Outside of his rookie season, Garrett has racked up double-digit sacks every year. That includes back-to-back seasons with 16 sacks in 2021 and 2022.
Meanwhile, Garrett has been to the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons. He’s also been an All-Pro in four of those last five seasons, including First-Team honors in 2020 and 2021. Garrett has clearly become one of the elite defensive players in the league. It’s also clear that he’s currently at the top of his game and has worked his way up to the point that he deserves to be Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.
As for his 2023 campaign, Garrett has collected 13 sacks in Cleveland’s first 13 games. He’s on pace to set a new career-high for sacks with an outside chance of reaching 20 sacks if he finishes strong. Somehow, his 13 sacks put Garrett two behind the league leader. While it’s easy to give DPOY to the player with the most sacks, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Behind Garrett and his pass-rushing skills, the Cleveland defense is near the top of the NFL in several other key statistical categories. The Browns have excelled at stopping opposing teams on third downs and limiting the passer rating of opposing quarterbacks. They also have one of the highest sack percentages in the NFL. All of those stats can be traced back to Garrett, who is the unquestionable catalyst for the Cleveland defense.
Carrying His Team
Perhaps the biggest reason why Garrett deserves to be DPOY is the fact that he means so much to his team. Everyone else on the Cleveland defense has fewer than five sacks this season. The Browns rely heavily on Garrett to be their difference-maker at the line of scrimmage. Even with opposing teams scheming to neutralize and sometimes getting away with holding penalties, Garrett has been a force of nature on a defense that needs him more than any other team needs any defensive player.
Meanwhile, injuries have forced the Browns to start four different quarterbacks. The Cleveland offense has been wildly erratic and unreliable at times, scoring 20 points or less in six of the team’s 13 games. Yet, Garrett and the Cleveland defense have helped position the Browns at the top of the AFC Wild Card standings. The Browns have needed Garrett to perform at a high level, and he’s delivered. His stats, Cleveland’s record, and the eye test make it clear that Garrett has been the most important and most impactful defensive player in the NFL this season.