When Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson was selected as the NFL’s defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Associated Press, it set off debates about whether or not he deserved it.
The timing of the award could not have been worse, coming just two days after the Packers defense allowed 45 points in their 51-45 overtime loss to Arizona in the wild card round of the playoffs. Arizona’s other six points resulted in a fumble recovery for a touchdown in overtime for the game-winner.
Woodson allowed a pair of touchdowns to Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the game, although it appeared that Fitzgerald got away with blatant pass interference on at least one of those scores.
Meanwhile, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco in consecutive weeks. The playoff performances of each made Jets head coach Rex Ryan berate the voters who did not pick Revis. There’s sticking up for your player, Coach, and then there’s not knowing what you’re talking about by ignoring the facts.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said this is why the awards need to be given after the NFL season. I responded to Schefter on Twitter, saying that the award is a regular-season award, and was awarded after the season.
During the regular season, Woodson was the most dominant defensive player all season long. He even stepped up his game when Green Bay starters Al Harris and Aaron Kampman went down in the same game, each with torn ACLs.
Green Bay finished the year with the NFL’s No. 2 defense, tops in the NFC, and Woodson was a huge reason why. The Jets had the league’s top-ranked defense, and Revis led the NFL’s top-ranked pass unit with six interceptions.
Woodson had nine interceptions on the year, returning three for scores. He also had two sacks, 74 tackles and five forced fumbles. Woodson also had 18 passes defensed on the year. Comparing the numbers, Revis had 31 passes defensed, but his six picks are three fewer than Woodson. Revis did not force any fumbles and Woodson had 20 more tackles. Woodson had three defensive touchdowns this year to Revis’ one, and even that came on a ball plucked out of the air after it was deflected by another player.
When Harris, Green Bay’s other bookend corner, went down, teams passed less often to Woodson’s side — making his interception number that more impressive. Teams rarely throw toward Revis, and his numbers suffer from that. None of the reasoning to vote for Woodson is a knock on Revis. Both are great players.
But when you look at who did what to alter the outcome of games, Woodson did more with a younger defense. Revis shut down the passing game. Woodson took away the passes through the air, and stopped plays on the ground. Opposing teams had to account for Revis in the passing game, but account for Woodson in every aspect of the gameplan.
Other players, like Denver’s Elvis Dumerville, former Packer Darren Sharper, now with New Orleans, San Francisco’s Patrick Willis and Minnesota’s Jared Allen all had great seasons.
But Woodson was the obvious choice.
Revis and the Jets may still be alive in the playoffs, but remember, Mr. Schefter and Mr. Ryan, it’s a regular-season award, and Woodson was the most deserving.
This column can also be found at The Alton Telegraph .