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Defensive Player of the Year Breakdown: End of Season Update

With the regular season now over, it's time to take one final look at the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year candidates and try to seperate them from each other. I will again be using the Impact Plays Index (IPI) that is explained in this article. This week, I am adding an 8th player to consider, Brian Dawkins. He was the winner of the SB Nation voting so I figured we might as well throw him into the mix (though I feel there is no way he wins the award). So, let's get into the numbers:

Actual Stats of Each Player
Player Tackles Sacks Ints TDs PDs FFs FRs TFLs Blks
Jason Taylor 62 13.5 2 2 11 9 2 6.5 1
Julius Peppers 58 13 0 0 6 3 2 5.5 2
Aaron Kampman 89 15.5 0 0 0 3 1 3 0
Brian Urlacher 142 0 3 0 9 1 1 9 0
London Fletcher 146 2 4 2 14 0 1 5 0
Shawne Merriman 63 17 1 0 8 4 1 3 0
Champ Bailey 86 1 10 1 21 0 1 2 0
Brian Dawkins 98 1 4 0 14 5 0 5 0

Next, let's plug in the numbers to the IPI and see where these 8 players stack up against one another:

Impact Plays Index
Player IPI
London Fletcher 128
Jason Taylor 122.5
Brian Urlacher 111.5
Champ Bailey 109
Brian Dawkins 94.5
Shawne Merriman 91.5
Aaron Kampman 89
Julius Peppers 88.5

As you can see here, London Fletcher ends with the highest IPI, followed by JT, Urlacher, and Bailey. Personally, I feel that these 4 are the only players who should even be considered for the award. Merriman, as we all know, used an illegal performance enhancing drug and should be disqualified from consideration. And we all know that both Taylor and Bailey agree with me on that one!!

OF course, I'm aware that some of you may disagree with the IPI formula. So, lets then simply break down each player's numbers simply by determining how many impact plays each player made per game this season. For this, we'll use 8 categories, all of the above except for tackles. Why no tackles? Tackles isn't a fair measurement because there are so many variables. Some positions, like LB, get most of the tackles. Also, depending on how good the supporting cast is, a player could have the opportunity to make more tackles than a player who is surrounded by a more talented squad. So, let's see which player made the most impact plays per game this season:

Impact Plays Per Game
Player IPPG
Jason Taylor 2.94
Shawne Merriman 2.83
Julius Peppers 2.25
Champ Bailey 2.19
Brian Dawkins 1.81
London Fletcher 1.75
Brian Urlacher 1.43
Aaron Kampman 1.41

As you can see here, Jason Taylor had more impact plays each game than any of the other candidates. Steroid-boy was second in that category. Peppers and Bailey were the only others who had more than 2 impact plays per game.

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, it could mean absolutely nothing. For instance, these media people who vote for this award will surely not really look to compare these players. They will simply look at the basic numbers (tackles, sacks, ints, etc...) to decide. They will also use cliches, like how Champ Bailey hardly ever gets thrown to his side, therefore having fewer opportunities to make plays. They'll also say that, because of how he "takes away part of the field," he has an impact on plays that don't go his way. Well, to that I simply ask, "Did you even watch JT play this year?" He was double-teamed basically all the time, hampering his ability to make plays. Also, because of the double-team, JT, too, had an impact on plays in which he didn't make a visible impact. Also, the stat of QB hurries is not an official statistic and won't be taken into consideration. But if you saw JT play, you'd realize how much he really did impact the game, even though he didn't have a tackle, sack, or any other stat to show for it.

Now, am I saying that if JT doesn't win this award, he was robbed? No, not at all. It simply depends on who wins it over him. There are 2 guys that, should they win over Taylor, I will not scream and shout about. They are Champ Bailey and London Fletcher. That's it. If anyone else, including "Roid-Boy" Merriman or Urlacher, win the award, then I will be angry. Realistically, I don't think Fletcher has gotten enough attention to win, so I think it comes down to JT, Merriman, Bailey, and Urlacher. If I had to choose who I THOUGHT was going to win, I'd say Champ Bailey. I think these media types are too obsessed with the idea of a "shut-down corner" and will overlook all of the things Taylor did for this Miami defense, a defense that ended the season ranked 4th in the NFL.

Now all we have to do is wait until Friday, when the award winner is announced...