The Jacksonville Jaguars are having quite a season, boasting an impressive 9-7 record and leading the AFC South heading into Week 18. Why? One could argue it's primarily due to their formidable defense. Among the key players bolstering this defense, one name stands out: Outside linebacker Josh Allen.
Allen has been a tour de force this season, making a compelling case for the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Yet his name is barely in the top 5 contenders even though he's outperforming Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys) and Maxx Crosby (Las Vegas Raiders).
Understanding the Defensive Player of the Year landscape
It's essential to understand that the competition for DPOY is fierce. Many fantastic athletes, like Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings, are in the running for this prestigious award. However, while these players have had excellent seasons, there is an argument to be made that Josh Allen's performance this year surpasses them.
The Josh Allen Effect
With an impressive 16.5 sacks and 31 quarterback pressures for the season, Allen undeniably plays a pivotal role in the Jaguars' success. His performance in the Jaguars' 24-21 win against the Houston Texans was particularly noteworthy.
During that game, Allen showcased his game-changing ability, especially on the final drive, where his 1.5 sacks pushed the Texans to the outer edges of field-goal range, ultimately leading to the Jaguars' victory. He has three games this season where he recorded three sacks; then there is his shutdown and victory over the Bill's Josh Allen for the second time in the Josh Allen Bowl II.
Evaluating Jaguars OLB Josh Allen's Statistics
While getting lost in the raw statistics is easy, it's crucial to understand just how dominant Josh Allen has been this season. While his 16.5 sacks don't lead the league, they represent a career-high for the young player and just 0.5 sacks off TJ Watt's league-leading 17.
Moreover, Allen's influence extends beyond his stats. His presence on the field allows other members of the Jaguars' defense to excel, as opponents must focus significant resources on containing him. This has been particularly important for the Jaguars, considering their defense relies heavily on physicality rather than pre-snap deception.
Comparing Josh Allen and Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett is the DPOY favorite at -200 on Hardrock.bet and has had an outstanding season with the Browns. Like Allen, Garrett is a crucial figure for his team, leading the league in pass-rush win rate and run-stop rate. But, across the board, Allen has outperformed him stat-wise and in team impact on the field.
Allen's 41 tackles, 20 assists, 16.5 sacks, interception, and two forced fumbles are greater than Garrett's 31 tackles, nine assists, 14 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Currently, Allen is ranked seventh behind Minnesota's Danielle Hunter with +7500 odds for the prestigious award.
The importance of winning
One factor that could tip the scale in Allen's favor is the Jaguars' winning record. The team's success this season has garnered national attention, increasing Allen's visibility in the DPotY conversation. If the Jaguars clinch the South this weekend, Allen's chances of seizing the award will undoubtedly increase.
The leadership factor
Beyond his on-field performance, Allen's leadership qualities contribute significantly to his DPOY candidacy. For instance, Allen has played a critical role in developing the Jaguars' top draft pick, Travon Walker. Despite not being named a team captain for the past two seasons, Allen's influence in the locker room is undeniable, further cementing his value to the team.
The Final Verdict
In the end, the DPOY award will come down to the votes. While Allen will face stiff competition from players like Myles Garrett, his performance this season and the Jaguars' success make a strong case for his win. No matter the outcome, one thing is clear: Josh Allen is no longer "the other Josh Allen." He has undoubtedly carved out a name for himself in the NFL and has a promising career.
In the battle of Myles Garrett vs. Josh Allen for the DPOY award, it's evident that Allen's performance this year has been superior. His contributions to the Jaguars' winning streak have been instrumental, and his prowess on the field is undeniable.
Therefore, the Defensive Player of the Year award should recognize Allen's superior performance and contribution to his team. His being a finalist in a contract year will significantly increase his leverage come the offseason.