It’s almost time for voters to pick the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year. The first thing you want to look at is the top defenses in the NFL by points allowed. This is why Rex Grossman, Brandon Lloyd and Maurice Jones-Drew are receiving no media attention: their teams are losing. You gotta achieve out-of-control numbers on a bad team to get consideration. Jason Taylor received the award in 2006 on a 6-10 Dolphins team, but they were 5th in points allowed.
Ravens OLB/DE Terrell Suggs: 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, 4 passes defensed, 34 tackles, 15 assists.
Some claim he takes plays off, but Suggs has been the most dominant force on the best defense in the NFL. I would give Ngata the award over Suggs but Suggs has made a big case. He’s won two Defensive Player of the Week awards and has shown up big in some of the most important games (@ Pittsburgh, vs. San Francisco).
Cowboys OLB Demarcus Ware: 14 sacks, 1 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 33 tackles, 6 assists.
The Cowboys defense has the same players as last year (adding Abram Elam) but has received a spark from Rob Ryan. Ryan is lining Ware up all over the place, unlike Wade Phillips, and Ware has put up big numbers as the Cowboys have defeated the injury bug during their ascent to the top of the NFC East.
49ers MLB Patrick Willis: 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 recoveries, 2 INTs, 13 passes defensed, 71 tackles, 22 assists.
The stingy pace-setter for the 49ers has helped his team rank 1st in points allowed, tied for 2nd in yards-per-carry allowed, 6th in QB rating allowed, without allowing a rushing TD through 11 games. He makes a linebacking corps that also features Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman much better than it would be without him.
Vikings DE Jared Allen: 13.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 INT, 4 passes defensed, 37 tackles, 11 assists.
Despite having little help on the other side over the last seven or eight games, Jared Allen has been able to dominate behind the line of scrimmage.The Vikings may be 2-9, but Allen’s motor continues to run at full speed.
It’s weird to not see any Steelers on this list, but several top nominees on the team were hurt – Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, and LaMarr Woodley – and some of them missed multiple games. The Steelers are still in play for a Super Bowl victory, something those players would rather have than individual honors.
My vote if the season ended today: The best defense in the NFL is the Ravens. The best player on that defense and the one that is most important is Haloti Ngata. He probably doesn’t jump out on paper enough to win it – 5sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 TD, 28 tackles, 18 assists -, but he has my vote.
Who would you pick?
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