Arizona Cardinals star Patrick Peterson doesn’t lack confidence in himself. The third-year cornerback has set a lofty goal heading into the 2013 NFL season.
I think my goal is to be an MVP of the league. I am the top cornerback in the game, and now that Bruce Arians is giving me the opportunity to play offense and special teams, I’ll have the best opportunity to capture that goal and dream of mine.
That was at the top of Peterson’s list in a story on Peter King’s new football website, TheMMQB.com.
The question — is it a realistic goal?
With a litany of high-level quarterbacks on teams projected to be extremely good, the task won’t be easy.
Since the Associated Press started giving out the MVP Award in 1957, only twice has a defensive player earned the hardware — Giants outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986 and Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971. In every other year a quarterback or running back has won outside of a kicker winning in 1982 (I swear, I’m not lying).
That makes the goal seem even more difficult.
Here are three reasons, if another defensive player is going to win the MVP, Patrick Peterson would be atop the list.
#1 Flash Plays
Peterson can do things on a football field that will get played over and over again during the 24-hour sports news cycle. I actually don’t think this is a really good reason, but it’s the truth.
In 2009, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis had arguably the best season a defensive back has ever had and he didn’t even win Defensive Player of the Year. Green Bay Packers corner Charles Woodson, who had three defensive touchdowns, nine interceptions, four fumbles forced and one fumble recovery was given the honor. Those game-swinging plays are all well and good, but Woodson wasn’t even close to being in the same class as Revis during that season.
Peterson will need to combine what Revis and Woodson did to win the award.
#2 Importance of the Position
After edge pass rushers, cornerback has become the most important position on the defensive side of the ball.
In 2009, when Revis wasn’t in the MVP talk despite his incredible season, teams threw the ball an average of 532.3 times over the course of the year. Last year the number went up to 555.9.
The position has also become harder to play because of rules limiting contact.
All of this has made the value of top-notch corners increase.
#3 The Charles Woodson Heisman
This is the best argument for Peterson being able to earn MVP. It’s a different level, but the idea of a defensive player winning college football’s top honor is just as unique as a defensive player winning the NFL’s top honor.
Since the Heisman was first presented in 1935, Michigan’s Charles Woodson is the only primarily defensive player to win the award.
What makes the Woodson-Peterson comparison applicable is the role Woodson held with Michigan that season. He was utilized on offense, defense and special teams.
Defensively, he was dominant, intercepting eight passes.
Offensively, Woodson was a high impact player, averaging 17.6 yards on 14 touches and scored three touchdowns. Two of the touchdowns were receptions and one was a run. Woodson even completed a pass to Brian Griese in a game against Wisconsin.
On special teams, Woodson returned 33 punts for 283 yards and one TD.
Peterson can similarly impact the Cardinals in all phases.
The big question is will he have the same platform Woodson performed on?
Michigan earned a split of the National Championship that season. Woodson came up with multiple huge plays in high profile games — against Penn State when both teams were in the top 5, against Michigan State and of course the Ohio State game, where he returned a punt for a TD, had an interception in the end zone and set up another score with a long reception.
The Cardinals currently have just one nationally televised game on the schedule.
Peterson needs the Cards to be one of the surprise teams in the league and get more national coverage. Remember, the NFL has a flex schedule for weeks 11 through 17; three of Arizona’s final four games are against the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers. If both teams are fighting for a wild card or the division the Cards could end up as the Sunday night game on NBC.
A huge performance on that stage can go a long way in influencing voters.
It’s a long shot, but based on these factors, if a defensive player was going to win MVP this season, Patrick Peterson would be the one I would pick.