Should a Running Back Win NFL MVP?

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NFL MVP
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans stiff arms Andrew Wingard #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 33-30. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

In all likelihood, the NFL MVP award will go to a quarterback. Russell Wilson, in spite of some recent struggles, has had a great season. Patrick Mahomes is his usual brilliant self, and Aaron Rodgers looks rejuvenated after the Jordan Love pick. These three players should all get consideration, but they shouldn’t overshadow the tremendous performances from a handful of running backs. Indeed, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara should all receive consideration for the award.

Should a Running Back Win NFL MVP?

According to Pro Football Focus, Cook (2nd overall), Henry (4th overall), and Kamara (6th overall) are all elite running backs. The Vikings, though mostly underwhelming this season, would not be nearly as competitive were it not for Cook’s sensational play. Similarly, Henry and Kamara are perhaps the main reason why their teams have found success; currently, both the Titans and Saints are in a playoff position. Their production has been impressive:

Cook: 1069 rushing yards, 234 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns

Kamara: 531 rushing yards, 648 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns

Henry: 1079 rushing yards, 86 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns

Now, I’m not the betting type, but folks who lean toward that sort of thing can use the best code for Bet365. One of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks is likely to win the MVP award, as history shows. Since 2000, a quarterback has won the award the vast majority of the time. The last non-QB to win was Adrian Peterson in 2012. He nearly surpassed Eric Dickerson’s rushing record. In other words, a running back needed to have a historically great season to snag the MVP. Otherwise, the past several years have been dominated by QBs.

A quarterback’s importance is unmatched in football. In a strange way, though, a quarterback’s importance may be used as an argument to justify giving the MVP to one of the game’s elite running backs.

The Vikings, Titans, and Saints aren’t bereft at talent at the game’s most important position; Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees (and Taysom Hill), and Ryan Tannehill are all talented NFL players. Nevertheless, all three teams have endured some inconsistent play from their quarterbacks. Each team has been relying on their running backs, often with great success. When the game’s most important player struggles, an elite running back is capable of picking up the slack.

Take, for instance, Dalvin Cook’s recent performance. The Vikings had a disappointing 1-5 record heading into their bye. In the four games after the bye, Minnesota has gone 3-1. They’ve flipped around their record largely because of their commitment to Cook. In these past four games, Cook has touched the ball 122 times. Cook’s four-game stat total is an impressive 580 rushing yards, 170 receiving yards, and 7 total touchdowns. Keep in mind that Cook’s production not only helps the offense but also the special teams and defense. Getting into better field position makes life easier for the special teams and controlling the clock by keeping the offense on the field helps the defense. An elite running back, then, can have a massive impact on a team’s overall success.

With all that being said, we return to our initial question: should a running back win NFL MVP?

There is still plenty of football left to be played, so things inevitably will look different once the season reaches its conclusion. If the opening eleven weeks are any indication, though, the game’s elite running backs should definitely be getting some serious consideration. Before they offer their support for one of football’s preeminent quarterbacks, MVP voters would be wise to remember Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry.

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