There’s no question that Luke Kuechly is one of the better young linebackers in the NFL and yesterday he got rewarded with a great honor as the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Award winner. Still was it the right choice for it when there were at least five defensive players who dominated the game more than the Carolina Panthers linebacker and more importantly where does he rank in terms of the overall winners of the award?
Kuechly recorded a total of 156 tackles with 93 solo, two sacks, four interceptions, seven passes defended and 10 stuffs. The issue is that Kuechly has a rather low percentage of solo tackles at 59.6 percent to put into context San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman who was a more deserving selection his solo tackle percentage is 82.7 percent, Karlos Dansby of the Arizona Cardinals registered a percentage of 93.4, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict who led the NFL with 171 had a percentage of 66.7 percent and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Lavonte David 73.6 percent.
A game against the New Orleans Saints gets referenced for Kuechly who recorded 24 total tackles and yet only nine were solo. Now compare that to the 15 total tackle performance of Bowman against the Saints earlier in the year he recorded 13 solo tackles.
For the 49ers linebacker his signature moment of the season came during a time where it appeared the Seattle Seahawks got the opportunity to clinch the NFC West. As Bowman was unable to recover an onside kick and the Atlatnta Falcons recovered with outstanding field position for at least a game tying drive.
It didn’t happen as Bowman made an incredible play he faked pressure coming up the middle on quarterback Matt Ryan and got back into coverage on a pass intended for Harry Douglas,cornerback Tramaine Brock knocked the football away right into the awaiting arms of Bowman who went 89 yards for the game sealing interception return for a touchdown.
What hurts Kuechly the most is that he did not record a forced fumble or fumble recovery. There’s also no question that Bowman got robbed of the award. An argument for why J.J. Watt, Robert Mathis, Robert Quinn and Richard Sherman are deserving the award gets made as well. The odd man out is the Panthers linebacker which begs the question how did he win the award in the first place? Since there are at least five players who had better years defensively than Kuechly.
It begs the question on whether he is the worst selection for the Defensive Player of the Year Award in NFL history? The answer is that he’s right there with Bob Sanders who won in 2007 when he recorded 96 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, six passes defended and four stuffs.
Does Kuechly belong in the same class as other middle linebackers who have won the award? Those are Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Mike Singletary and Randy Gradishar. At the moment that answer is no and he does have time to get to that level it’s too soon.
So for the time being he will give Sanders a run for his money as being the worst selection in the awards history.
Here’s a message that Kuechly sent to Bowman who he claims “got robbed.”