For the 2013 NFL season, Ben Tate displayed more heart and toughness than any player in the league this season.
On Wednesday, he was placed on the injured reserved list after suffering his fifth broken rib of the year. He initially broke four ribs against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 20 (a 17-16 loss) and since then has played and battled through the injury.
So to answer my question in the headline … Yes, Tate should be the team MVP this season.
Tate stepped up in a big way for the Texans in 2013, especially after Arian Foster went on the season ending IR with multiple hamstring and back injuries. Tate hasn’t missed a game all season, as he’s been the starter 14 times.
Sure, the soon-to-be free agent running back angered fans this year when he said they were “wishy-washy,” but he and the fans are grumpy over all the losing, and I can’t blame anyone for being in a bad mood with all the losing as this season had so much promise in August.
The Texans (2-12) will most likely add a 13th consecutive loss to their resumé this weekend against the Denver Broncos, but not all of those losses can go on the running back.
Tate has 181 attempts for 771 yards and four touchdowns in ’13. For his four-year career, he has 1,992 yards and 10 scores. He’s rushed for over 100 yards once this season, 102 yards on 22 carries against the New England Patriots.
The running back might have also played his last game with the Texans as there will be many teams who will probably make Tate a generous offer this offseason to switch jerseys.
He’ll finish the season averaging 4.3 yards per carry with his longest run going for 60 yards in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, on Sept. 15, which happens to be the last time the Texans won a game.
Not just with his stats, but I truly believe Tate was the heart of this team. Not many players would play the running back position (or any position) with one broken rib, much less four or five for a good portion of the season.
If Tate isn’t the MVP for those reasons alone, and he was productive and helped keep the offense moving during multiple quarterback changes and mishaps, then whomever is the team MVP must be one heck of a football player.
My vote is for Tate.