Washington Redskins: Is Ryan Kerrigan out of Defensive Rookie of the Year Race?

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2011

With five weeks left in the NFL season, season awards races are starting to come into focus.

The Washington Redskins won't be seeing an MVP award for any of their players, but they're not entirely without hope. Rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has the necessary numbers to be a top contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Standing between Kerrigan and a clear shot at the award is the NFL's rookie darling, Von Miller of the Denver Broncos.

Kerrigan's season, like that of his team, started out with a bang.

In his first game, he intercepted an Eli Manning pass and returned it for a touchdown in a crucial season-opening clash between division rivals.

Since his debut, Kerrigan has been as consistent a playmaker as London Fletcher, whose legacy speaks for itself.

Perhaps it is the lack of the eye-popping double-digit sack total, or the recent downturn of Washington's season, but Kerrigan seems to be conspicuously absent from any Defensive Rookie of the Year conversations.

As painful as the average fan may find it is to watch a typical Redskins game, even the untrained eye will tell you that the rookie is outplaying teammate Brian Orakpo, who has received numerous accolades in his brief career.

Miller deserves every ounce of praise that has been showered upon him, especially considering what he accomplished in the month of November. Of his 10.5 sacks on the season, Miller recorded 4.5 of them in Denver's past four games, all wins.

On the flip side, Kerrigan has four sacks of his own in Washington's past four games, though the Redskins went just 1-3 in those contests. It can't simply be a matter of what have you done for me lately, given the similar production the two players have had in November.

However deserving Miller is of praise, it does not excuse the lack of recognition Kerrigan has received this season.

A side-by-side comparison shows that the rookies are neck-and-neck from a statistical standpoint.

Miller has more sacks and solo tackles, but Kerrigan has the four forced fumbles to Miller's two. Then the big difference is Kerrigan's interception-touchdown, compared to Miller's lack of turnovers.

There is no doubting that both Miller and Kerrigan are well on their way towards distinguished careers, but do experts have to make their favorite so obvious with so much football left to play?

Since Miller plays on a team with Tim Tebow, and Kerrigan plays with Rex Grossman, it is easy to see why the latter is overlooked in this situation.

Still, there is no reason why Kerrigan shouldn't receive just as much consideration for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award as Miller has all season.