After yesterday’s easy pick for offensive MVP, today’s award for the defensive side of the ball was far more difficult. My first instinct was to give the award to Chris Long after his 13 sack season, and I even thought about acknowledging the entire cornerback group for overcoming injuries and still playing pretty well despite ending the season with a group of guys that probably would have been sitting on the couch if not for the Rams. In the end, I had to give it to the guy who runs the show and makes the whole defense go: James Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis finished 2011 with 16 starts, 142 tackles (105 solo), seven pass deflections and two interceptions. Those numbers are impressive by themselves, but factor in that Laurinaitis is the quarterback of the defense and one of the leaders of the team, and his contribution is even more impressive. The guy is a tackling machine and is rarely out of position, and he is the guy that has the biggest impact on the unit.
As much as I love Long and as much as I wouldn’t want to be without him, I think losing Laurinaitis would be much more devastating to the Rams. He is the “most valuable player”, which is why he gets the award. The scary thing is, Laurinaitis is still getting better. I really think he has a chance to develop into one of the best MLB’s in the league, and he probably isn’t far off already.