In the race for the MVP, many forget about a stellar season for the Miami Dolphins star cornerback.
The NFL season is winding down, meaning awards season is on the horizon. The focus turns to the MVP, where Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes will duke it out for another trophy in the final two games.
Sure, the focus should be there, but what about the other awards?
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships, as the old saying goes. And while pass rushers are now a staple of the NFL, members of the secondary have grown to be just as valuable.
That’s why Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard should be right in the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year award when the season concludes.
Since being drafted out of Baylor, Howard’s name has floated around as one of the cornerbacks on the rise. Still, it never feels like he’s ascended to tier 1 status despite being one of the league’s highest-paid defenders.
One look at his stat line in a breakout year of 2020 shows he’s arrived at the All-Pro conversation.
Xavien Howard is a BONA FIDE STUD.
▪️9 INT (most in NFL)
▪️46.1 QB Rating Allowed (best in NFL)
▪️48.9 Comp% Allowed (best in NFL among CB) pic.twitter.com/V4BEhuh5dm
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) December 23, 2020
Xavien Howard’s season has helped the Dolphins defense
Last season, New England’s Stephon Gilmore took home the honors after leading the league in interceptions with six. Howard is one away from 10, which would make him the first player since 2007 to accomplish the feat and 13th all-time.
Howard’s 17 pass deflections also are tied for second-most in the league behind Tampa Bay’s Carlton Davis.
If the season were to end today, this would mark the second time in three years Howard’s led the NFL in interceptions. His coverage skills are similar to that of Gilmore last year. Add in his surefire tackling skills, and what are we missing?
Recently, Howard requested to review his contract and add more to an already expensive deal. In reality, he’s earned it with 21 interceptions since 2017 despite missing 14 games in two years. Plus, the Dolphins defense now has caused at least one turnover in their last 20 games, a new record in the NFL.
Xavien Howard has more INT (9) than several ENTIRE TEAMS:
▪️Texans: 3 pic.twitter.com/8dj5JFbfWy
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) December 15, 2020
How many of those has Howard been responsible for when you think about it?
Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt will go down to the wire for the sack title. Last season., Shaquill Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 and finished with only two votes. Neither Watt (13.5) nor Donald (12.5) is even near that mark with eight more quarters of football left in the season.
Howard is an elite cover man that’s a play away from joining a prestigious group of defenders. If the NFL doesn’t consider him the leading man for the DPOY, he should intercept the votes to make sure fans know he’s the only option.