MVP. Most Valuable Player. An accolade that has proven over the years to carry many different meanings.
In major sports, MVP awards are usually given to the player who puts up the best individual stats. This suggests that the individual who puts up those big numbers meant the most to their team, therefore making him the MVP.
There's another way to look at who is the MVP of a certain team. In this case, I am simply looking at who is the most valuable player on the Saints' defense. Who is the guy that the Saints' defense can not afford to lose to injury? Who is the guy that without him on the field, the whole operation could potentially go down in flames?
I believe that guy was Keenan Lewis in 2013.
(This is the moment where the skimmers stopped reading, threw their arms in the air, and wonder where the f@*# did Dave find this guy?)
Clearly, Cam Jordan had a fantastic year. His aggressive pass rush was a beautiful sight to see. His numbers were great. A well deserved trip to Hawaii, representing Team Rice on Sunday.
But Keenan Lewis really exceeded my expectations. The Saints finished the season second in passing yards allowed, which is truly unbelievable considering where this team was just one year ago. Did Cam Jordan and the Saints pass rush assist with this stat? Absolutely. But considering the hand that Lewis was dealt with injuries to Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, and Kenny Vaccaro, it was Lewis that continued to shut down the league's top WRs week after week.
In coverage, Lewis allowed less than 500 yards receiving for the season and allowed only 0.89 yards per coverage snap, tied for 8th in the NFL. With 4 interceptions, a forced fumble, and 11 pass deflections, Lewis was up to the challenge of covering each team's top receiver.
When Lewis was knocked out of the NFC Wild Card matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, it was more than obvious to see what Keenan means to this defense. Before the concussion, it was as if DeSean Jackson didn't even exist. Then Rod Sweeting happened.
Even through the injuries and tough schedule, Keenan Lewis was the rock of a secondary that was the league's punching bag just a year ago. Without him, there is no way that the Saints achieve the level of success in pass defense that they enjoyed in 2013.