Even with a compelling three-horse race, Myles Garrett's DPOY nomination stands out. All season long, Garrett has been neck-and-neck with Micah Parsons and TJ Watt as the 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 should Myles Garrett win Defensive Player of the Year?
Although he may not currently be listed among the greatest defensive players in NFL history, Garrett is starting to put himself in that conversation.
He has come close to becoming Defensive Player of the Year in recent seasons. But Myles Garrett's statistics this season and the impact he made on the field to put the Browns in position to make the playoffs should be more than enough to earn him Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2023.
Build towards DPOY
Obviously, it's not appropriate for a player's past to influence awards for the 2023 season. But there's no doubt that Garrett has been on track to become the best defensive player in the NFL over the past few seasons. Outside of his rookie season, Garrett tallied double-digit sacks each year. That includes back-to-back seasons with 16 sacks in 2021 and 2022.
Meanwhile, Garrett has gone to the Pro Bowl in four of the past five seasons. He has also been an All-Pro in four of those past five seasons, including first-team honors in 2020 and 2021. It is clear that Garrett has become one of the best 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 being worthy of being named 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. Although it's easy to award a DPOY to the player with the most sacks, that doesn't tell the whole story.
Behind Garrett and his pass-rushing skills, Cleveland's defense sits near the top of the NFL in several other key statistical categories. The Browns have excelled at stopping opposing teams on third down and limiting the passer rating of opposing quarterbacks. They also have one of the highest sack percentages in the NFL. All of these stats can be attributed to Garrett, who is the unquestionable catalyst for Cleveland's defense.
He carries his team
Perhaps the biggest reason why Garrett deserves the DPOY title is the fact that he means so much to his team. Everyone else on Cleveland's defense has fewer than five sacks this season. The Browns are relying heavily on Garrett to be a difference-maker at the line of scrimmage. Even with opposing teams scheming to sideline and occasionally escaping penalties, Garrett was a natural force on defense that needed him more than any other team needed any defensive player.
Meanwhile, injuries forced the Browns to start four different players. Cleveland's offense has been highly erratic and unreliable at times, scoring 20 or fewer points in six of the team's 13 games. However, Garrett and Cleveland's defense helped put the Browns at the top of the AFC standings. The Browns needed Garrett to perform at a high level, and he delivered. His stats, Cleveland's record, and the eye test show that Garrett was the most important and impactful defensive player in the NFL this season.