MVP voters took note of J.J. Watt's historic season

It's been a very long time since a defensive player has won the league's MVP award -- 29 years, in fact. It's also been that long since any defensive player received as many votes for MVP as the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt did, according to NFL.com.

In fact, since 1999, when the MVP voters were reduced to 50, there hasn't been a defensive player to get as many MVP votes, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Watt received 13 of the league's 50 MVP votes. Aaron Rodgers received 31, Tony Romo 2, DeMarco Murray 2, Tom Brady 1 and Bobby Wagner 1. That Watt swayed so many in a league so geared toward offense speaks to his dominance this season.

His 20.5 sacks made him the first player since sacks were recorded to have multiple 20-sack seasons. He also finished with 10 pass breakups and five touchdowns.

Can Watt win the league's top individual award?

"Well, it’s tough, to be honest with you," Rodgers said. "He knows that it’s an offensive-geared league and a quarterback or a running back usually wins this award. It’s probably tough, but I think if anybody can do it, it’s him."

There are many who'd agree with that sentiment, especially those who've played against Watt and with him. He impacts every play either with something he does or with the attention opposing offenses have to pay to locate him.

What hurt Watt more than anything was that his position is not one that can dictate the result of a game as much as the quarterback position can. There were times this season when the Texans' defense was dominant enough to win, but the team lost. The second contest against Indianapolis comes to mind -- a game the Texans lost 17-10, largely because they lost quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a broken leg during the game.

The Texans went 9-7, a significant improvement over 2013's 2-14, and narrowly missed the playoffs. There were likely voters, though, who felt averse to selecting a player whose team didn't make the playoffs, though that again goes back to the possible impact of a player's position on wins and losses.

Watt is not the league's MVP today, but another season like this one could turn more heads than the 13 who took notice this time.