Everyone loves a good MVP debate.
In the case of the Browns MVP this season, there may be some obvious suspects. Myles Garrett makes the short list, considering he's firmly in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation with his play this season. Amari Cooper has been consistently reliable despite Cleveland dealing with a carousel of quarterbacks this season. Perhaps Kareem Hunt is an outside the box option with his team leading six touchdowns.
Those are all fair choices, no doubt. However, there's a case to be made the actual MVP of the Browns this season is kicker Dustin Hopkins.
For a second consecutive week, Hopkins nailed a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds of the game, this time to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 33-year-old has single-handedly won the Browns three games this season on last second field goals against the 49ers, Ravens and now the Steelers.
Beyond the game winners though, Hopkins is having a career year as well. In a Week 7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Hopkins made a career-long 58-yard field goal as part of a 4-for-4 day where he notched three kicks of 50-plus yards. His previous long of 56 yards came in 2018.
That perfect performance was one of seven such performances this season where the 10-year veteran has hit all of his field goals. In two of those games Hopkins took home AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Honors.
To take it even further, Hopkins has put up double-digit points in four games this season, and three of those games Cleveland loses without his contributions. One is the 19-16 win over the 49ers in Week 6, where the Browns kicker accounted for 13 of the team's 19 points. One week later in a 39-38 win over the Colts, he contributed a season-high 15 points. And then of course there was last week's 33-31 win over Baltimore where he notched 13 points.
With 86 total points on the season, Hopkins is on pace to surpass his career-high of 138 as well.
Browns fans have spent the better part of a decade reminiscing about the glory days of Phil Dawson kicking into swirling winds along the lakefront and finally they've found a reliable successor in Hopkins.
To think, back in the preseason the organization was still weighing whether or not it should exercise patience with Cade York. Moving on from the 2022 third-round pick has proven to be the right choice by Andrew Berry and company.