Best defender in the NFL? It's Miller time
(Von Miller photo courtesy of Eric Bakke/Denver Broncos)
(Luke Kuechly photo courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)
Talk of Fame Network
Being the best player on the best defense in the NFL has its rewards.
Von Miller is that best player, the Denver Broncos have that best defense and in this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, our listeners and readers voted him the NFL’s Defensive MVP for 2015.
Miller received 27.9 percent of the vote to outdistance Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly at 19.1 percent and a pair of pass rushers, J.J. Watt of Houston and Khalil Mack of Oakland, who both finished with 16.2 percent of the vote. Defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu of Arizona and Josh Norman of Carolina received 7.4 percent of the vote and Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson 5.9 percent.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts didn’t follow the consensus. Ron Borges and Rick Gosselin both voted for Kuechly, and Clark Judge cast his ballot for J.J. Watt.
“Von Miller is a force,” Borges said, “but so, too, is Luke Kuechly and to me, he's doing it just as effectively with fewer top shelf aides than Miller has in Denver. Kuechly makes plays all over the field: in coverage, at the line of scrimmage and in the quarterback's grill. If you want to find the ball, just follow him around. He'll take you to it.”
Kuechly has a team runner-up 109 tackles in the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense. He also has four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and broken up 13 other passes. He has two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Miller has a team-leading 10 sacks on a unit that leads the NFL in both defense and pass defense and ranks second in run defense. The Broncos also lead the NFL in sacks and rank fourth in takeaways.
Watt ranks second in the NFL in sacks with 14 ½ and has forced two fumbles in the NFL’s third-ranked defense.
"Let's not try to over-complicate this,” Judge said. “It's J.J. Watt, and it's J.J. Watt for a good reason. He's an irresistible force who continues to put up big numbers despite opponents' game-planning for him ... and him alone. Houston is in the playoff because because of one guy, and it's not DeAndre Hopkins. It's J.J. Watt and the Texans' defense.”
Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks and Nelson leads with eight interceptions.