In part three of our 2012 Season Awards for the Baltimore Ravens, we at Ravens 101 hand out our 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award in what was a very tight race. Our decision was not easy, but in the end we feel that the Ravens 2012 Defensive Player of the Year is Cary Williams.
This was not an easy decision, but in the end, wouldn't you as the big-time Raven fan want it to be a tough decision as opposed to an easy one? That simply means that there were enough different players contributing on the defensive side of the ball to make it a tough decision. In the end Williams got our nod for the fantastic season he had, especially considering he went from being the number two cornerback to the number one spot when Lardarius Webb went down with an ACL injury. Cary stepped into that role and played phenomenally. Although his four interceptions does not turn heads as a high amount, that can be attributed to the fact that he was playing so well that opponents were not challenging Williams' coverage. During the regular season, Williams also added 75 tackles (4th on team), 21 passes defended (which led the team and was good enough for 6th overall in NFL) and one sack. There is no question that Williams had a great regular season, but he also played well in the postseason with two interceptions and eight passes defended. He and Corey Graham played as good as a cornerback tandem can play in the postseason.
A couple other players need to mentioned in this debate as one was extremely close to beating out Williams for this award.
- Dannell Ellerbe – With Ray Lewis missing most of the season with a torn triceps, Ellerbe took over the role of lead inside line backer with a great performance. Ellerbe finished the season second on the team with 92 tackles, third with 4.5 sacks and also recovered one fumble. As many Ravens did, he stepped up his game in the playoffs as he was second on the team with 32 tackles, defended three passes and even had an interception.
- Paul Kruger – Want to know who almost beat out Williams for this award? Kruger is your answer. Although he got off to a slow start, once Terrell Suggs returned to the line-up, Kruger took off and had a fantastic season. He led the team with nine sacks, threw in 42 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. For a team that struggled to really apply pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, Kruger was a welcome presence as a pass rusher, as he really gave Baltimore that marquee rusher on the defensive side of the ball. Paul also stepped up in the playoffs, and in a big way. He led all players in the postseason with 4.5 sacks and also recovered and forced a fumble as well.
Once again it was great to have such a tough decision, but what is worse is that all three of these guys are free agents this offseason, so the Ravens front office will have to decide if they can afford to keep any of these guys, nonetheless more than one. It is one of the bigger things to watch this offseason in regards to free agents, but in regards to Williams, the Ravens will have Webb returning next season, so his departure may not be as bad for the team as Ellerbe or Kruger.
Who do you think should have won our 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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