Charles in Charge

Sorry. His name just begs to be used as entry-way for cliches. Not long after Charles Woodson was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, I voiced how displeased I was with the results. I have since had ample time to do the research and clear my head with a long, brisk walk on the beach. Alright, I didn’t do the last one, but I definitely did the first one.

Initially I was angry that Woodson was chosen, feeling like he wasn’t as deserving a candidate as  Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets. I searched for reasons why he shouldn’t have won the award, and it didn’t take me long to find them.

In an NFL season, every game is critical. For a franchise as well-known as the Packers, everything is magnified. In the majority of games this season, Charles Woodson played well. However, more often than people like to admit, Woodson was picked on by quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, Brett Favre, and Ben Roethlisberger. In the first game of the season, Cutler was a mess. He was intercepted by everybody wearing green and yellow except for Mike McCarthy and a few fans. In his second game against the Packers, I watched him pick apart Woodson with rookie wide receivers for critical scores.

Maybe I’m nit-picking, but for Cutler, who played historically bad this season, to be picking on you with inexperienced and no-name receivers, that makes me want to vote for you a little less when the end of the year rolls around. But hey, that’s just one game, so let’s throw it out the window. What is harder to throw out the window are the games against Favre(well, unless Woodson’s covering the window, ya’ dig?). In his first game against Woodson, Favre threw for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Okay, so Woodson was only one of eleven defenders. However, the two guys he was responsible for guarding, Sydney Rice and Bernard Berrian, each eclipsed 70+ yards receiving and scored a touchdown apiece.

I know what you’re thinking-who the hell is Sydney Rice? Well, up until Favre came along he was a virtual unknown. Berrian has always been a solid option at the slot position, or in some cases a decent number 2 receiver. For both of those guys to have the games they did against Woodson has to mean something. I’m just not sure what…but at least he shut down Calvin Johnson twice(although he clearly didn’t have a quarterback to get him the ball)?

In Favre’s second game, he threw for slightly less yards, managing 244 through the air. Good job, Woody. Oh, except he also threw for 4 touchdowns. That’s not a typo. The aforementioned Berrian had a solid game, but it was rookie of the year candidate Percy Harvin who put his stamp on the game, finishing with 84 yards and 1 touchdown. Favre didn’t put his stamp on the game, only on Woodson, reading: POWNED(but then again, he practiced against Woodson for about 5 years while both were in Green Bay).

And then there’s Roethlisberger. This guy went bonkers on Woodson and the Packers in Pittsburgh, throwing for a personal and franchise-best 503 yards. That’s insane. I don’t think the Revis-led Jets defense allowed 503 yards against them altogether, let alone through the air.

After finding all this out, I was even less pleased with the results of the voting. Woodson beat-out Revis 28-14 in Associated Press votes. Looking at the statistics alone, Woodson should probably win. Here’s how the two finished the season statistically:

Woodson: 74 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 18 passes defensed, 9 interceptions, 3 touchdowns

Revis: 54 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles, 31 passes defensed, 6 interceptions, 1 touchdown

All-in-all, those are some impressive numbers. Watching these two guys line up in the same defensive backfield would be nothing short of spectacular to see, although I have a feeling Woodson would be seeing a lot more balls thrown his way. The difference between their numbers can be explained away. In Dom Capers’ defense, Woodson was asked to do more than just guard the opposing wide receiver. He moved around a lot in different defensive packages instead of just playing coverage. Also, he gets more balls thrown his way, which affords him the opportunity to catch 9 interceptions. Revis’ man, when targeted, was more often than not unsuccessful in connecting with his quarterback. Revis still finished with 6 interceptions and nearly double the amount of passes defensed as Woodson.

Revis, as I’ve mentioned before, shut down franchise wide receivers. He held Andre Johnson, the guy who led the league in receiving yards, to a mere 35 yards receiving. He held Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, in two meetings each, to a combined 9 catches for 58 yards, and 6 catches for 44 yards, respectively. This guy is a flatout monster.

In the beginning of the year, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings was the front-runner for the DPOY award. Shortly thereafter Allen stopped producing consistently. By mid-season, a political campaign was being launched to bring light to what Woodson was doing in Wisconsin. Word of mouth was spreading: Woodson was fast becoming the NFL’s top candidate for defensive MVP. Even in ghastly performances like the ones listed earlier, he more than made-up for his deficiencies with jaw-dropping numbers. Lost in all the commotion was the stellar play of a 5’11” cornerback who was secretly laying waste to any and all opposing wide receiver/quarterback combinations. Quietly making a name for himself in the Meadowlands was Darrelle Revis, Lockdown Corner Extaordinaire.

Despite what my entire post may have led you to believe, I too would have voted for Charles Woodson(if forced to choose). What cannot be explained away are his 9 interceptions. Even if you get targeted a lot as a corner, you have to have both incredible instincts and coverage ability to be able to pick off 9 passes. You also have to be ridiculously heady to return 3 of them for touchdowns.

Add in the 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 74 tackles, and you’re looking at not only a great cornerback, but a great defensive player. Period.

Charles Woodson running with the football was a common occurrence this season as he was tied for first in the league with 9 interceptions.

It was never a question of who was the better cornerback; that goes to Revis, hands down. The award was for best defensive player over-all, and that’s Woodson. What bothered me was the disparity in votes(2:1 ratio), and how media members constantly rammed it down the throats of their viewers/readers/listeners that Woodson was the only option for defensive player of the year. He was not the only option, and it should have been a lot closer. Still, no one deserved the award more than Woodson.

As his recent playoff assignment Larry Fitzgerald notes in his blog after Sunday’s game, “Playing Charles Woodson was every bit as difficult as I anticipated.  He is a fierce competitor and a true class act.”

At the end of the day, it boils down to this:

Revis is a play-stopper, a title most deserved for his success this season.

Woodson is a playmaker on the defensive end, a title most often reserved for premier offensive juggernauts.

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4 Responses to “Charles in Charge”

  1. Nate Brew Says:

    I am slowly starting to understand this thing called football. And I read it.

  2. Fred Says:

    Like CP3 over DWill basically; flash over substance. Oh and it helps that I hate them cheese eating bastards although I love cheese myself.

  3. Anthony Burrola Says:

    Thanks for the love guys. Means a lot, Fred, Nate. And lol@ the comparison. I think it almost works. Almost.

  4. Laron Says:

    I had never heard of Darrelle Revis until reading this. I could blame the media, but I think it’s just ignorance.

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