Defensive POTY Voting Winds Up Weird

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t have the league’s best defense in 2023, and they didn’t even have the best defensive player. However, Danielle Hunter stood out as a contender worthy of consideration, and the final tally shows just how weird the process went.

Defensive POTY Voting Winds Up Weird

When the National Football League unveiled its season awards on Thursday, the Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett took home Defensive Player of the Year honors. He beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher, T.J. Watt. The decision was a curious one as Watt not only had five more sacks to lead the sport this past season but also had 26 more total tackles and two more tackles for losses. It almost seemed that Garrett was given the nod because he had not previously won the award.

Defensive POTY
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Regardless of how you show up on any side of the snub for Watt and the frustration there would be warranted, the lack of any mention of Danielle Hunter is also puzzling. The Minnesota Vikings talented edge rusher had 2.5 more sacks than Garrett compiled, and he had more total tackles than either of the top two selections. His 23 tackles for loss led the sport, and to get not even a single vote is truly an embarrassment.

Micah Parsons rounded out the top three, while Maxx Crosby and DaRon Bland captured the top five inclusions. Beyond that, names like Fred Warner, Roquan Smith, Kahlil Mack, and Dexter Lawrence had no business garnering consideration before the Vikings’ standout player. It’s fair that his performance may have been lost amid a lackluster season from the organization, but this is an individual award and one that you can only control the opportunities in front of you.

Caveat about Danielle
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This offseason, the Vikings must decide if they will bring back Hunter, and if so, for how much. Without him on the defensive line, the edge rusher position will be a desolate wasteland for defensive coordinator Brian Flores. D.J. Wonnum went down at the end of the year and is also a free agent.

Solidifying the pass rush with a player of Hunter’s quality is something Minnesota must consider, and even if voters overlooked his abilities, it was impossible to miss on a week-by-week basis.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) share a laugh at the conclusion of a Week 14 NFL game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 23-10.. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

What the Vikings ultimately do in free agency remains to be seen, but you can bet they will be keeping much better tabs on their talent than it appears those with voting rights were able to.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.