There are some players that—when a key defensive play is needed—teams make sure to have on speed dial.
Yes, we are just five games into the season, but already we have seen a handful of defensive studs show flashes of brilliance.
And it is never too early to talk about defensive player of the year candidates.
They may not be the fastest, strongest, or even most athletic, but when the game is on the line, these guys know what it means to make a play.
Simply put, Pat Angerer has been all over the field.
Having started the season at the strongside linebacker position, Angerer was forced into the middle of the defense due to an injury to Gary Brackett. And boy, has he flourished.
Since taking over in the middle, Angerer has become a tackling machine. He already has 65 tackles on the season, which puts him on pace for an absurd 205 tackles over the course of a full season.
Now, typically it would seem naive to think a player could keep up that kind of pace, but with the way Angerer has been playing, he appears more than capable of reaching that goal.
The only thing that could ruin Angerer’s chances of earning the title of defensive player of the year is his team. Currently winless and sitting in last place in the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts are quickly finding out why it is unwise to pin your hopes to one man.
However, if they have any hope of winning games this season, they may have to rely on the quarterback of their defense.
And the New York Giants continue their streak of rolling out dominant defensive ends.
First they had Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Now they have Jason Pierre-Paul dominating the line of scrimmage.
An extremely raw talent coming out of college, Pierre-Paul has been nothing short of amazing any time he sets foot on the field.
“The way I play, when they put me in, I’m going to get a sack,” Pierre-Paul said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
And he has plenty of walk to go with that talk, registering seven sacks in five games.
He is also a complete defensive end, as he is also stout against the run. On the season, he leads all defensive ends with 28 tackles.
This young man is well on his way towards “stud” status as he terrorizes offensive linemen and quarterback alike.
Now 4-1, the Buffalo Bills have been one of the most surprising stories of the season. Sure, they have a much-improved offense, but the key to their success has been strong safety George Wilson.
With 47 tackles, Wilson has been a tackling machine. He has been a force against the run and equally solid in coverage.
However, where he really shines is in his big-play ability.
So far this season, Wilson has recorded three interceptions and a forced fumble, which puts him on pace for career numbers in both categories. More importantly, however, has been the timing of his big plays.
Every time he causes a turnover, it comes at an important time in the game and changes the momentum. He has been a difference-maker for the Bills, and he has fans forgetting about the departed Donte Whitner.