I'm usually not one to make a big deal about awards. We all know that the voting processes in place for the various end of season awards are faulty and don't always reward those who actually deserve to be rewarded. That's why I have no gripe with Troy Polamalu winning the AP's Defensive Player of the Year award. But that doesn't mean we should just accept it when a very deserving player gets completely disrespected - the way Miami Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake was by the Associated Press on Monday.
In the AP's voting, Clay Matthews finished second with 15 votes for the DPOY award. James Harrison finished third with 8 votes. Julius Peppers finished fourth with 6 votes. And Wake? He didn't receive a single vote.
That's where I have a huge problem, people. And I just don't understand how any of these voters can justify these voting results. If you just watch the film, there's no way you can say Cameron Wake was not one of the five most dominant defensive players in 2010.
That's probably why the Dolphins outside linebacker was voted into the Pro Bowl as a starter. Keep in mind that the Pro Bowl vote is made up of three groups of voters, each representing one-third of the final results. Those three groups are fans (in which Wake did not finish among the top at his position), players, and coaches. Considering Wake started for the AFC, odds are he racked up votes from fellow players and coaches around the league.
But when you leave the awards up to the media, this is what you get - a disgrace.
The media members who vote for awards like these don't have the ability to watch all of the games. So they probably didn't really get to see just how much of an impact Wake had on transforming the Dolphins defense into the sixth ranked defense in the NFL. But if you just look at the numbers, it's seriously unreal that Wake couldn't receive a single vote while Matthews, Harrison, and Peppers finished in the top four.
Let's talk about some of those numbers.
Cameron Wake had more than each of those three players. His 14 sacks were only topped by two players. Clay Matthews, meanwhile, finished a half-sacks behind Wake. James Harrison had 10.5 while Julius Peppers had only 8. And when you consider that nearly half of Peppers' sacks (3) came against the Dolphins - who were starting a third string QB, a banged up OL that featured some backups, and a one-armed left tackle - it's even more difficult to understand how he received 6 votes while Wake was shut out.
Tackles for loss
To me, tackles for a loss are every bit as good as sacks. If you stop a ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, you did good - regardless of if the ball carrier was a quarterback dropping back or a running back trying to run off-tackle. And there was only one player (Chad Greenway) who had more tackles for loss in the entire league than Cameron Wake's 12. Greenway just edged Wake out, finishing the year with 13. Matthews, meanwhile, had 4. Harrison had 7. Peppers had 6.
Total tackles behind line of scrimmage
This is a simple stat, really, but one that I love because it highlights a players ability to make plays in the opposing backfield. Like I said, sack or stuff, causing an opposing offense to lose yardage on a play is a positive thing for the defense. And there wasn't a single player in the NFL to make more total tackles behind the line of scrimmage than Cameron Wake, who had 26 of them. Compare that with Matthews (18), Harrison (18), and Peppers (14).
How again did Wake not receive a single vote for this award?
I was debating this with a friend of mine last night and all he could say in defense of Matthews and his 15 votes was that his "impact on the game was far superior" to Wake's impact. That just doesn't compute in my head, though.
Consider these final numbers. Based on the NFL.com gamebooks, Wake had more QB hits than Matthews in 2010 (27 to 25). And though I don't know how these figures might have changed between weeks 11 and 17, the fact is Wake was tied for first in the NFL with Brian Orakpo for most holding penalties drawn through the season's first ten weeks. Over that same time span, Wake was second in the NFL in quarterback hurries, trailing only Chris Long.
Like I said, I don't know where Wake finished in those two categories. But I have to imagine he was still towards the very top of the list.
Again, I'm not suggesting that Wake should have won this award. In fact, it's probably beneficial to the team that he didn't win it. That's one less thing that Cameron's agent can use as leverage as he and the Dolphins look to extend his contract.
But it's totally ridiculous that Wake did not receive a single vote. Not one.
Perhaps it's time to rethink exactly who is given the privilege and responsibility of being a voter for these kinds of awards. It's time to actually apply some facts, some thoughts, and some knowledge to the voting process rather than just letting a bunch of journalists vote based on reputation and false perception.
But what do I know? I'm just a blogger who uses statistics and facts to base my opinions.