In his second season as a 3-4 linebacker and his first without Dwight Freeney to soak up the bulk of the attention, Colts linebacker Robert Mathis has a career performance.
The 11th year defender racked up a league-high 19.5 sacks, and that’s good enough to make Mathis the PFT defensive player of the year.
His previous high-water mark for any one season had been 11.5 sacks.
“It would mean a lot,” Mathis recently said regarding potential recognition as the defensive player of the year. “It’s definitely something coming in as a rookie that you couldn’t foresee, just trying to make the team. But hard work pays off and I got a lot of teammates that I was able to lean on this year and they were able to help get to this spot right now.”
While it won’t be known for 29 days whether Mathis wins the official Associated Press version of the award, he can find some solace in securing the PFT version of the prize.
Other finalists were Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
Cast your own ballot below, and/or defend your selection in the comments. Or criticize ours.