Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Teammates: Wilkerson is Jets' MVP
By Matt Ehalt
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson won the Curtis Martin Team MVP Award for the 2013 season, as voted on by his teammates. It's Wilkerson's first team MVP award, and he's the first Jet to win it in his third season with the team since Darrelle Revis in 2009.
"It's great. That's an accomplishment I think I worked hard for," Wilkerson said. "I want to celebrate this award with my teammates. I wouldn't have it without them."
Wilkerson has developed into one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL, with Jets coach Rex Ryan saying earlier this year the Jets "may have the best defensive player in the league right now."
The 2011 first-round pick has a team-high and career-best 10.5 sacks, and 62 combined tackles. The 10.5 sacks are 2.5 more than he registered in his first two seasons combined. Wilkerson has also forced two fumbles and recorded an interception.
Wilkerson said it meant a lot to have his teammates honor him with this award. He's just the second Jets defensive lineman to win it, joining John Elliott, who won in 1970. Antonio Cromartie won the award last season, and a defensive player has won it each of the past five years.
"It basically means those guys thought I pretty much helped the team out a lot," Wilkerson said. "I'm always going to share my awards with my teammates because I feel if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have gotten the award."
Wilkerson is part of a stout Jets defensive front that has clearly been the strength of the team. Along with fellow linemen Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson, Wilkerson has helped the Jets be the NFL's No. 3 rush defense (88 yards per game). The Jets are tied for 11th with 41 sacks. Wilkerson is tied for 11th individually in sacks.
Wilkerson credited Richardson for helping him excel. Richardson, a 2013 first-round pick, has had a stellar season and might win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
"Helping me out, just being the character, the guy he is," Wilkerson said. "Talking and saying he's the best, I push myself because I feel I'm the best. It's good to have friendly competition."
Said Ryan: "I think Mo will tell you he gets pushed by his teammates. They challenge each other over there. It's a great group, it's a young group, and they push each other to be the best."
In addition to Wilkerson, the Jets handed out the following awards:
• Dennis Byrd Award for most inspirational player (teammates vote): Linebacker Demario Davis
• Marty Lyons Award for community service (Jets staff vote): Cornerback Kyle Wilson
• Ed Block Award for most courageous player (teammates vote): Cornerback Isaiah Trufant
• Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award (Jets staff vote): Kicker Nick Folk
• Bill Hampton Award for a rookie who acts like a professional in the locker room (equipment staff vote): Fullback Tommy Bohanon