My Top 5 2020 DPOY Candidates
1. Chandler Jones
Chandler Jones is the best pass rusher in the NFL right now in my opinion and will us show again in 2020 by winning Defensive Player of the Year. In 2019 Jones had 19 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 8 forced fumbles and in his 4 years in Arizona he has totalled:
67 Tackles for Loss
98 QB hits
2 Pro Bowls
2 First team All-Pros
Even with his Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections Jones’ name still isn’t mentioned enough alongside the Khalil Mack’s, J.J. Watt’s and Von Miller’s of the world when the stats and tape clearly say he is one of the best in the game. Jones is elite against both the run and pass, dominating on every down in every game even when playing on the Cardinals sorry defense.
However, the likely hood is that Jones would need to make the play-offs with Arizona if he was to win the award in 2020 which I don’t see happening. So, Jones would instead have to have excess of 20 sacks in 2020 which I believe is 100% on the cards given Jones has totalled 17 sacks and 19 sacks in two of his last 3 seasons.
2. J.J. Watt
It feels to me that fans have forgotten that when healthy J.J. Watt is still one of the best defensive players in football. Watt is a future hall of famer and All-Time great, as well as a 3-time defensive player of the year and 5-time first team All-Pro. Between 2012-15 Watt amassed:
119 Tackles for Loss
15 Forced fumbles
However, over the last 4 years he has only played one full season due to consistent injury troubles and that was 2018, where he once again made first team All-Pro had 16 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 7 forced fumbles.
Watt is now 31 and his chance to win a Super Bowl is slowly getting further and further away, and for the Texans to even stand a chance of making the Play-Offs in 2020 they will need vintage J.J.Watt leading the way on defense otherwise that defensive line will crumble.
Ultimately, the Texans will need Watt to be at his best and healthy if they want to make a run in the Play-Offs and if he can do that, we will be looking at arguably a 4th Defensive Player of the year worthy season for J.J. Watt.
3. Aaron Donald
As a Chiefs fan I love Chris Jones and he is an unquestionably an elite defensive tackle, but he still doesn’t even come close to Aaron Donald. Donald is a generational talent and future Hall of Famer; his resume speaks for itself:
6 Pro Bowls
5 First Team All-Pros
2 Defensive Player of Years (2017, 2018)
Defensive Rookie of the Year
117 Tackles for Loss
173 Quarterback Hits
15 Forced Fumbles
2x Tackles for Loss leader (2018, 2019)
20.5 Sacks in one season (2018)
Donald is a game changer and offense wrecker, and like the Texans need Watt, the Rams will need Donald to be elite if they want to have a chance of making the play-offs given the Rams weaknesses across the roster. However, I don’t believe Donald can win Defensive Player of the Year on 11 sacks like he did in 2017, especially since edge rushers like Chandler Jones and Shaquil Barret are having 19 sack seasons. Never the less, if Donald has 15+ sacks and 20+ tackles for loss from the interior whilst consistently being double teamed I believe he would stand a very good chance of winning his 3rd Defensive Player of the Year award.
4. Stephon Gilmore
When Stephon Gilmore steps onto the field for the New England Patriots it’s almost like closing off an entire side of the field for opposing quarterbacks and offenses. In 2019 Gilmore allowed no touchdowns in coverage whilst scoring two himself, broke up 13 passes and only allowed 50.5% of 101 targets thrown his way to be completed for an average quarterback rating of 44.1. While Gilmore has been playing at an elite level for a while now his previous seasons were nothing like that in 2019 which is why we saw him win Defensive Player of the Year.
The argument for Gilmore winning the award in back-to-back seasons is quite simple really when you think about it. In 2019 the Patriots had a very lack lustre offense which was carried by arguably the best defense in the league with New England’s defense averaging the lowest yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. While Newton instead of Brady at quarterback might open up the Patriots offense a bit more, their defense will still need to be elite if they stand a chance of making the play-offs, and that’s where Gilmore comes in. If Gilmore is playing at his 2019 level then I believe the Patriots defense will be very good and have a shot at making the play-offs, if they do so there is no reason for why Gilmore’s name wouldn’t be in the mix for his 2nd award.
5. Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack is a future Hall of Famer in my mind, with Mack I don’t believe his stats truly show how good he and the impact that he has on the game.
In Mack’s last 5 seasons:
5 Pro Bowls
3 First Team All-Pro
1 Defensive Player of the Year
70 Tackles for Loss
104 Quarterback Hits
Mack didn’t have the best 2019 season finishing with his lowest sack total since his rookie season, and while Mack refuses to put the blame on double-teams, injuries or the absence of elite team mates such as Hicks, these all do play a part into why he wasn’t his usual self in 2019. Nonetheless, Mack is reportedly more motivated than ever heading into 2020, he is fully healthy and will see a lot more one on one match ups after the addition of Robert Quinn in free agency and getting a healthy Akiem Hicks back.
Mack would be my 2nd favourite for Defensive Player of the Year, however, I believe there is an X-Factor not many people are talking about. In the same manner the Jacksonville Jaguars elite defense gave up on Bortles after numerous seasons of carrying him and the offense I believe the same thing could happen to the Chicago Bears if the coaching staff allows Trubisky to remain under center for too long, which could not only ruin their season but could have some big ramifications for seasons to come.
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