The NFL MVP is a quarterback award, and rightfully so. The game has never been more dependent on its most important players, and that explains the endless push to protect quarterbacks and ensure they avoid injury.
On the rare occasion that the NFL MVP isn’t a quarterback, it’s a running back. A wide receiver? Never.
No wideout has ever won the award, but 2023 is a strange year with no clear dominant favorite for MVP through 13 weeks. If it’s ever going to happen, this is the season. And the reason for that is Tyreek Hill.
Any dominant season by a receiver virtually necessitates a corresponding one by the quarterback throwing him the football, and when two players from the same offense are both dominating, the quarterback will get the praise.
For a receiver to be seen as more valuable than the quarterback, a special case needs to be constructed for that value, above and beyond simple dominant stats.
You can construct that case for Hill over a number of years. In 2017, his presence transformed Alex Smith from a pathologically conservative passer into one who led the league in deep passing.
With only the 11th-most attempts beyond 20 yards, Smith racked up over 200 yards more than any other quarterback on those deep shots and had 12 touchdowns to just one interception. When he saw Hill in single coverage on the outside, it was an automatic target and likely a big play.