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Every offense, especially Quarterbacks (QB), go into each game trying to find mismatches so their team can be successful. But they also have to take into account that they are going to be facing some of the more ruthless defenders in the league, and hope to god they do not find themselves eating turf all day! Even if the QB can escape pressure he still needs to make sure it is a pass where only his receiver can get the ball, because if not, then he has to worry about getting picked off. Especially if it is a defender who has a knack for having good hands. (Defying that saying of defensive players in the secondary can not play wide receivers because they "do not have good hands"). Running Backs and Wide Receivers also face situations in which they have football players built like a house with legs coming at them in the open field to leave a devastating hit upon them!
Note: Any and all stats are as of 12-19-13
Robert Mathis- Linebacker Indianapolis Colts
(Photo: Matt Kryger)
Robert Mathis is having the best season of his career thus far! He currently leads the league in stats with 16.5 and has already broke his single season best of 11.5 which he had down twice (05' 08' seasons). Mathis is well on his way of reaching 50 total tackles for the fourth time in his career and has also caused havoc for opposing offenses by creating 6 forced fumbles!
Robert Quinn- Defensive End St. Louis Rams
The other 'Robert' on this list, Robert Quinn, has been getting better and better with each season! In 2011, Quinn registered 5.0 sacks, and in 2012 more than doubled that with 10.5! Quinn has 15.0 sacks thus far for the 2013 season (which is second, only behind as the aforementioned Robert Mathis) and has 46 tackles (17 more than his previous best from last year 29!). Quinn has generated 7 forced fumbles (6 more than last year!), recovered 2, one of which he returned for a touchdown! (TD)
Antrel Rolle- Safety New York Giants
Arguably Rolle's best season to date in his career, Rolle now has a career best in both interceptions (INT) 6 (tied for league best), and sacks, 2.0! Rolle still has two games left to add on to his career bests in INT's and sacks. Rolle is also four tackles away from reaching a total of 90 for the third time in his career! Along with his interceptions that causes miscues for the opposing offense, Rolle has 11 pass deflections, which is tied for a career best! (06' Season).
Vontaze Burfict- Linebacker Cincinnati Bengals
I think it would be an injustice if Burfict is not at LEAST a candidate for the award. In just his second season, Burfict is becoming a stable and prime example of what a linebacker should be like as he leads the league in tackles with 151. On top of all of that, Burfict has 1.0 sack(s), 2 fumble recoveries, with one being returned for a TD and 8 pass deflections. Definitely a complete all around performance on defense by Burfict!
Richard Sherman Cornerback Seattle Seahawks
For me, Richard Sherman first let his voice and name be heard last season after a game in which the Seattle Seahawks defeated the New England Patriots. After the conclusion of that game Sherman got in Tom Brady's face taunting him with more or less with the "U MAD BRO" meme, and even took his trash talking to social media via Twitter with some tweets. With all of that said Sherman has been able to backup his talk with his outstanding performance on the field! Sherman is tied for the league best in INT's with 6 (Antrel Rolle, whom was previously mentioned, and another player who is worthy of being a candidate for "Defensive Player of the Year, DeAndre Levy) with one of them being returned 58 yards for a TD!
DeAndre Levy Linebacker Detroit Lions
DeAndre Levy is in a 3-way tie for league leader in INT's with 6 (one of them which he returned for a TD), alongside Defensive Player of the Year candidates, Antrel Rolle and Richard Sherman. But what sticks out for Levy from Rolle and Sherman, is that Levy is a Linebacker, which is not usually a position where a player will be leading the league in INT's. Levy has also cracked the 100+ mark for tackles in a season for the 2nd time in his career (105 as of 12-19-13) and is in good position to surpass his best of 109 from the 2011 Season.
Certainly there are other players worthy of being candidates ( Lavonte David, Paul Posluszny, John Abraham, even potential Rookie of the Year candidate, Kiko Alonso) but no doubt at least one of the players I listed as a candidate are on another person's list as well!
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Image Sources: (1.) http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2013/10/17/colts-lb-robert-mathis-finally-gets-to-hit-peyton-manning/3004667/