The Chicago Bears wouldn't be the same without Charles "Peanut" Tillman, but is he the team's MVP?
In a word—no.
In my book, a MVP is defined as the one player a team absolutely can't do without.
Granted, Tillman's seven forced fumbles and two interceptions returned for touchdowns are among the most impressive statistical feats any player has accomplished in 2012. That said, I'm positive this team would survive without Tillman if it had to because of all the talent on their defense.
Henry Melton, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs (who's having an unbelievable year, just like Tillman), Brian Urlacher, Major Wright and the rest of the bruise crew in Chicago are having just as much to do with the team's success as Tillman.
Truth be told, Tillman may not even be the best cornerback on his team, as Tim Jennings is also having a banner year for the Bears. Jennings has come up with six interceptions (he took back one for a touchdown) and has defended 15 passes.
Pro Football Focus has graded both players (subscription required). Tillman is their second-highest rated cornerback, while Jennings ranks No. 8.
Here are a few key stats:
Teams pick on Jennings more often than they do with Tillman, so perhaps the interception numbers are a bit skewed. Still, when you look at both of their performances side by side, it's hard to say that Tillman is better than Jennings—let alone more valuable.
Is Tillman the Bears MVP in 2012?
Tillman is absolutely in the running for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, but to say that he's the most valuable player on the Bears is taking it a bit too far.