Every year there is an early-season Heisman boomlet for a defender or a non-skill-position offensive player. Sometimes those players end up influencing the race, as Ndamukong Suh did in 2009 and Tyrann Mathieu did in 2011.
Most of the time, though, I come closer to winning the Heisman than these guys do.
This year’s defensive flavor of the day is Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. He’s a returning All-American for the Bulldogs and he got tongues wagging after his performance against Missouri on Saturday night. Jones had two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception, nine tackles and five pressures in Georgia’s 41-20 win.
That got the Heisman talk going, but I doubt it’s going to go very far.
Don’t get me wrong. Jones is a great player. He’s going to get some Heisman votes.
But defensive players just don’t win the Heisman.
It’s not because voters are biased against defenders. It’s because they do what everyone else does when trying to figure out the best player: They look at numbers. And that’s where offense wins out.
Offense is driven by statistics. There are tons of ways to quantify a quarterback’s output. Not so for defensive players. How do we measure Jones’ dominance? Through sacks and tackles? Once we do so, how do we compare it to the other candidates? Why is Jones getting buzz as a Heisman candidate and not FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner, who leads the nation in sacks? Or why not safety Ed Reynolds of Stanford, who already has three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown?
The proper reply to those questions is that while we can’t necessarily quantify it on paper, Jones is just better. Though it may be an accurate sentiment, it’s not going to be enough for Heisman voters to go on.
This isn’t how I want things to be, it’s just reality. If any Bulldog wins the Heisman, it’s going to be Aaron Murray.