Charles Woodson for Defensive MVP: Why the Packers Cornerback Is the NFL's Best
When Charles Woodson arrived in Green Bay, there were mixed emotions on whether or not the soon-to-be 30-year-old was worth the seven-year, $52 million deal Ted Thompson awarded him.
The former Heisman Trophy winner had recorded 17 interceptions during his eight years in Oakland but played just six games the season before after breaking his leg.
Currently in his fourth year with the Packers, Woodson has been worth every single penny that has been pushed his way.
During his tenure in Green Bay, he has surpassed his Oakland numbers in interceptions, sacks, and touchdowns and has become a consistent name in the discussion for top cornerback in the league.
As well as Woodson played in his first three seasons in Green Bay, he is on pace to surpass those numbers this season and is a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Through the first three months of the season, Woodson has been named the Defensive Player of the Month twice, both in September and November. He has also had the honor of being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week on two occasions, both in week 10 against the Cowboys and last week against the Lions.
So what kind of a shot does Woodson have at winning the Defensive MVP at the end of the season?
Well, history sure isn't on his side, as just four cornerbacks have won the award since 1971, the first year the award was handed out. Those four corners include Hall of Famers Mel Blount (1975) and Rod Woodson (1993), arguably two of the best to ever play the game. Deion Sanders also won the award in 1994.
When offenses game-plan against a defense, the one position on the field that can be completely taken out of a game is the cornerback position, making it harder for cornerbacks to be noticed. Great coverage that takes a receiver out of a game does not show up in the box score.
Also, new pass interference and illegal contact penalties have made it near impossible for corners to make legal plays when the ball is thrown their way.
However, the reasons that make it harder for a cornerback to be recognized are the same reasons why Woodson deserves to win the award this season.
Every game, Woodson is matched up on the opposing team's best receiver, whether that be a wide receiver in Chad Ochocinco or a tight end in Jason Witten. While teams could choose not to throw to their No. 1 targets and take Woodson out of the game, he dares them to look his way and usually wins.
If Woodson fails to win the award, likely candidates to take home the trophy are Minnesota's Jared Allen and Denver's Elvis Dumervil. Darren Sharper and London Fletcher are dark horses as they are amongst the league leaders in interceptions and tackles, respectively.
Dumervil leads the league with 14 sacks and has three forced fumbles for the Broncos, while Allen has racked up 12.5 sacks to go with an interception, three forced fumbles, and a touchdown.
Woodson has 54 tackles, seven interceptions, three sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two touchdowns. He has been better all-around than either of the two leading candidates and has done so at a tougher position.
Being in Green Bay will not help Woodson's cause with the national media rarely giving praise to the team up North, but if there ever was a time to make an exception, now would be it.
To date, Woodson has to be considered the front-runner due to his two Defensive Player of the Month Awards and the fact that he is the best player on the top ranked defense in the league.
There are still five games to be played, and a lot could happen between now and then, but if Woodson keeps up his historic pace and leads the Packers to the playoffs, it will be hard not to vote him the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
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