The league "official" votes were given out, but there's only one vote Ram fans cared about and that was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Defensive end Robert Quinn dominated the NFL in his third season, and for fans who have had to deal with a struggling team for the last decade, an award to a fan favorite player is always a good thing.
However, the Associated Press awarded Panther linebacker Luke Kuechly Defensive Player of the Year. Kuechly was a really good linebacker last season, but did he deserve to win the award? Personally, I don't think so, so why did he win it? Here's NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal, take on the situation.
Kuechly is one of the best young players in the league, but we don't think he had the best season in 2013. He wasn't even the best middle linebacker. The 49ers' NaVorro Bowman, in many ways, had the season that people thought Kuechly had. Bowman would have been my choice for the award. Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and his teammate, cornerback Richard Sherman, both made good cases for the award. Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had the most consistently dominant performances of the season, but he was penalized for not playing on a winning team. The Texans' J.J. Watt had a better overall 2013 than Kuechly, and Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis also was a strong candidate in a season without any easy choices.
Ultimately, Kuechly was rewarded for being the best defender on a Panthers defense that dramatically improved under Ron Rivera in 2013. Teammates like Greg Hardy, Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson all deserve an assist.
Wow, so it sounds like Quinn was robbed because of his team's performance - even though he elevated everyone else play on the defense - while Kuechly had some help from a lot of really good players on defense, especially defensive tackles.
This is just the way that awards are given in the NFL. Honestly, it sounds like the only way Quinn would have won the award is if the Rams won 10 games and made it to the playoffs. So even though Quinn had 19 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 57 tackles as a defensive end, he was bound to lose. Would he have had a stronger case if he finished the season with 20 sacks and won the Deacon Jones Award? Probably... Oh well, there's always next year, and at least the Pro Football Writers of America got it right when they awarded Robert Quinn with their Defensive Player of the Year Award.
For those asking, here is Def POY voting: Luke Kuechly 19 Robert Mathis 11½ Earl Thomas 7½ Robert Quinn 6 Richard Sherman 4 J.J. Watt 2— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) February 2, 2014