Best of the Bullies: Who Deserves to Be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year?
For years, NFL conspiracy theorists have believed that the NFL is doing their best to make defense meaningless.
They argue that the NFL only wants to see high-scoring games with big-time passes, high-speed running, and minimal interference from the men on the other side of the ball. They've made strong cases for their beliefs and can be pretty convincing.
But there's always something they forget—the classic, hard-nosed, "Hit 'em, and hit 'em hard" football player.
If their theories do hold any merit, none of it matters when a high-flying offense has to account for a one-man wrecking crew.
Offensive statistics in 2008 haven't been nearly as gaudy as they were in 2007. There's no Tom Brady airing the ball out for five touchdowns a game. LaDainian Tomlinson isn't on his way to another 30-touchdown season, either.
With 2008's decline of the high-powered offense, more attention is being paid to the exciting monsters of the defense—the men who will sniff out the ball and shut the carrier down for a significant loss at the most inopportune time.
It's only appropriate to honor the men who don't believe in high-scoring games—the men whose bread and butter is ending an offensive drive and silencing anyone that believes points are more exciting than hard hits.
OLB James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
The sixth-year man out of Kent State has established a new career-high in sacks with 12 and is en route to surpassing his tackle total set in 2007.
Lining up at outside linebacker, Mr. Monday Night has developed a reputation for making the most of every opportunity he receives.
His path to the NFL was littered with roadblocks and obstacles. Now he's the roadblock and obstacle.
He can get to the quarterback, create turnovers, and score on them.
And to think—his career could've ended as another obscure player on someone's practice squad.
OLB Joey Porter, Miami Dolphins
The new "Mouth of the South," former Steeler, and ever-dangerous leader of the Miami Dolphins' defense, Joey Porter is having a career year. But what's more is that his incredible season is coming at a time when most fans believed he was done.
With 13.5 sacks through 10 games, Porter is also making a strong case for Comeback Player of the Year. Porter's move to Miami was hindered by injuries. While he did all he could for his team during a terrible season, fans could see he wasn't himself.
Did the money make Porter complacent? Was he getting too old to be the same Joey?
All of those questions are moot points in 2008, as he proves to be a significant force in every single victory the Dolphins achieve.
NT Kris Jenkins, New York Jets
At 6'4", 360 pounds, Kris Jenkins has established himself as a premier nose tackle in the 3-4 defensive alignment. The New York Jets' success against the run can be credited to him and him alone. As he goes, the Jets' defense goes.
Jenkins has been the dominant run-stuffing presence New York has needed. Tossing aside offensive linemen and creating piles at the line of scrimmage, Jenkins single-handedly closes down running games.
When he's off the field, teams take notice and try to take advantage.
After being manhandled by Jenkins, Buffalo Bills' center Duke Preston told reporters, "It's like trying to block a two-ton semi going downhill."
When Jets' coach, Eric Mangini, implemented the 3-4 defense, his team allowed 4.6 yards per carry in 2006 and 4.2 yards per carry in 2007. With Jenkins in the middle, the Jets are fourth in the NFL, allowing only 3.4 yards.
NT Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee Titans
While all the attention has gone to the Titans' offense, as teams try to figure out ways to stop them, Haynesworth and his defense continue to be the true driving force behind their undefeated streak.
Following the defensive tradition of 2008, Haynesworth is also having a career year, reaching the quarterback seven times in only 10 games and applying pressure that allows his secondary to create turnovers through the air.
He's bounced back in a big way through 2008, finally playing like the man fans know he can be and leaving his troubled past behind him.
Barring any injuries or suspensions, Haynesworth should be considered for MVP honors if his output continues as it has.
S Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers
There's something in the cheese over in Wisconsin. The Packers lead the league in interceptions, and Nick Collins is a big reason why.
Recording five interceptions through 10 games, Collins is another defensive player establishing career-highs across the board. He's been the impact player Green Bay has needed to retain momentum or put a stamp on a victory.
In fact, it would be easy to make the same case for cornerback Charles Woodson.
DE John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons
Recording 11 sacks on the season, John Abraham has been reminding the NFL who he is when he's healthy. He's a human wrecking ball to a quarterback when he's not nagged by injuries, and 2008 has only helped to cement that reputation.
Traded to Atlanta after the 2005 season, Abraham was considered a liability by the Jets after spending too much time on the sidelines. In 2007, he played in 16 games for only the second time in his career.
But everyone's always understood that when he's healthy, he's easily a top-five talent in his position on the field. There aren't many players that get to the quarterback as easily as he does.
In 2008, he's looking to put together a second consecutive 16-game season, and he's doing it with authority. He's on pace to break his previous sack total of 13, established in 2001.
Angel Navedo is the Head Writer at NYJetsFan.com, boasting Jet Fuel Radio, frequently updated news and opinions, and a premier fan community. He is also the Community Leader for the New York Jets on Bleacher Report.
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