There has been so much turn over at just about every position on the Baltimore Ravens defense it is hard to figure out who the most valuable player has been in 2012. the usual suspects like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb have all either spent significant time in injured reserve or have been playing injured for the majority of the season hindering their play. With that being said, could one of these fine players be considered as the teams Defensive Player Of The year?
Again, Ngata has played almost the entire season with a myriad of injuries. However, when he is healthy you can see the huge difference he makes on the field, eating up double teams and constantly pushing the pocket back. Ngata is in contention for this honor every season, healthy or not.
Although we all know williams gets picked on a lot it is usually because he is covering the opposing teams best receiver and, well the ball would probably be heading there anyway. Cary almost got himself Pro Bowl consideration considering he was leading the AFC in interceptions when the voting started and he has, by far, been Baltimore's most reliable and consistent corner. He is not the best corner in the league or even on the team but he has played to the best of his abilities this season and should garner some consideration due to his consistency at least.
Although Pollard has been hurt of late he has been the backbone of what was once considered the most physical defense in the NFL. Pollard has brought back the smash-mouth style of play to the defense that many have been longing for for so long.
McClain did a tremendous Job filling in for the legendary Ray Lewis when he was sidelined with, what was thought to be, a season ending injury. McClain lead the team in tackles in Lewis' absence and was the glue that held the line backing core together for some time until he suffered his own season ending injury.
Kruger again finished the 2012 season very strong and with Terrell Suggs out for the majority of the season was the teams best pass rusher. In the beginning of the season he was caught out of place frequently on rushing and passing downs but over time he has honed his game to where he is a viable option on any down.
Now, with Suggs return he has moved back to his best position of a pure pass rushing specialist and may still be the teams top pass rusher.
Sure Reed has looked pretty bad at times and he is clearly favoring his neck and shoulder injury on every tackle but there is no denying that opposing offenses still game plan for the best ball Hawk in Ravens history. His presence is felt in every game he is on the field and he has taken over the role of emotional leader with the absence of the teams heart and soul Ray Lewis.
There is no question that Ellerbe has become the Ravens beast healthy linebacker and if all were healthy he may even still be the best. However he has also missed time and spent time in the shadows of Lewis and McClain at times. At this point I'd say he is the one defensive player the team needs the most heading into the playoffs. Could he be their most valuable player over all?
There are plenty of other honorable mentions that could make the cut had they had more time on the field each week but this honor must go to a player that has spent more time on the field making those around him better as well as playing at an elite level himself. The Ravens defense this season has truly been a collective effort from all players. Starters, back-ups and role players alike have all found ways to contribute to what success the Ravens have had on defense.
All in all you really have to give a hand to new defensive coordinator Dean Peas who has has to face so much adversity in his first year in this position with so many injuries and interchangeable parts. Peas has found ways to find production from second and third string players and even players brought in off the practice squad and off the street. Well done Mr. Peas! I wonder what he could do with an entire season of healthy Ravens players to tinker with.
Honorable mentions go to Arthur Jones, in his limited time coming in as a rush end he has played above expectations and opened the eyes of coaches and fans alike. Corner back Corey Graham has had a very nice season as well. Graham was first brought in as a special teams ace that ended up as nickle starter and then eventually starter, in which he excelled in every phase of the game he was asked to play.
Rookie Courtney Upshaw started the season off slowly but has proven to be one of the teams top run defenders at the outside linebacker position and looks to have a very bright future with the organization if his play continues to grow as he does in the NFL. Chykie Brown had one excellent game and Brendon Ayanbadejo stepped in and played above and beyond expectations when asked to fill in as well but none of these player spent enough time on the field to prove worthy of this award.
So, tell us what you think my fellow beatdowners. Who is the Ravens DPOY?