Year-End Superlatives: Defensive MVP
Sean Weatherspoon was the choice at the midpoint because he was the one player that consistently was playing at a high level. And I think he is one of three candidates deserving of consideration by year’s end. The other two are John Abraham and Brent Grimes.
It’ll be hard to pick Grimes simply because he missed a couple of games at the end of the year, and the Falcons didn’t exactly fall apart. But Grimes played really well, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The simpletons out there will see that he only had one interception this year instead of the five he had in 2010 or six in 2011, and think he wasn’t as good. But he was arguably better. Teams learned their lessons and threw at him less, so the opportunities for the big plays weren’t always there. But he still was a disruptive guy that played at a high level every time he stepped on the field. The fact that he was able to effectively contain Calvin Johnson is proof positive enough that Grimes played at a high level.
And many people will look at Abraham’s final numbers and see a dropoff in his sack totals and think similarly that Abraham was not as good. But don’t let the relatively minor drop-off in sack production fool you, Abraham was a better football player in 2011 than he was in 2011. That is evidenced by an increased number of hits and pressures, as seen with Moneyball. Abraham was the only Falcons lineman up front that could be relied upon to get pressure on a relatively consistent basis. I would not say he was a one-man army, but certainly he would have qualified as a militia.
So that basically leaves me to stick by the midseason pick of Weatherspoon. Along with Grimes, he was the Falcon defender most deserving of being in the Pro Bowl, but he obviously got snubbed. Weatherspoon just was all over the field this year. He made plays as a pass rusher, in coverage, and versus the run at critical points in games throughout the season. And ultimately that’s exactly what you’re looking for in a MVP, someone that steps up in the big moments and makes the big plays.