David Johnson Should Be an MVP Candidate

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

David Johnson is one of the most productive players in the league, but being on a losing team might keep him from being MVP.

Winning the NFL’s MVP award is a tremendous honor that has been bestowed on some of the greatest players in league history. The list of past winners is a guide to greatness. The criteria is a bit nebulous, but one thing seems to be true: The winner must come from a winning team. That hard and fast rule will prevent David Johnson from being considered for the terrific season he’s having in 2016.

Johnson, by most definitions, has been one of the best players in the NFL this season. The second-year running back is putting up numbers on par with anybody in the league. He’s currently 3rd in rushing yards and 3rd in rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, he leads the league in total touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, and all-purpose yards. His skill as a runner is MVP-worthy alone, but his ability to make plays as a receiver out of the backfield puts him in rarefied air. He has 55 receptions (2nd only to Le’Veon Bell at the running back position) and 613 yards (most at his position by far). He’s a dual-threat player who is obviously one of the best the league has to offer.

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Since the AP starting handing out the MVP award in 1957, it has never gone to a player on a team that was .500 or worse. In 1997, the award was split between Brett Favre and Barry Sanders. The Lions were 9-7 that season, which represents the lowest record for an MVP winner. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule, the total record for teams the MVP were on is  470-122, with an average record of approximately 13-3. All-time, the MVP winner’s teams have won 79.6% of their games. The Arizona Cardinals, in 2016, are 4-6-1, and even if they win out, 9-5-1 would be the worst team to produce an MVP in history.

David Johnson is having an outstanding season, and one worthy of being mentioned as MVP-worthy. Barring injury, he’ll finish in the top five in several statistical categories. Unfortunately for him, his team seems primed to prevent him from becoming the first MVP in team history, and that’s a shame. He’s earned it.