When it comes to defense, everyone acts as though the runaway-favorites for the Defensive Player of the Year award are Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt and Denver Broncos OLD/DE Von Miller, but Geno Atkins is making it tough for voters to keep him out of the DPOY discussion. He had arguably his best performance of 2012 when the Bengals needed it most during Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, as was relentless in getting after Ben Roethlisberger and keeping the escape-artist planted into the turf for much of the game on his way to getting two sacks (12.5 on the year), registered four stops (plays that cause an offensive failure), and helped clog the interior to hold Pitt to just 95 yards rushing. For his efforts, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
According to Pro Football Focus, his +74.6 grade is the third-highest of any player in the NFL. Unfortunately for Atkins, the two players rated higher than him are Von Miller (+78) and J.J. Watt (+93), so even in PFF’s grades he is at a disadvantage for the DPOY award. Still, just being on the ballot for the award and getting votes is a tremendous accomplishment, and quite frankly, you could argue that of the three players, Atkins is by-far the most valuable to his teams’ success. Stats and grades don’t always show how truly a player really is, and if the voters of this award realize that, than maybe Atkins has a legitimate shop to claim the franchises first Defensive Player of the Year award-winner.
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