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Have at It: Woodson is our POY

I assumed this week’s Have at It would fall along party lines, but I was pleasantly surprised. I asked you to name the NFC North’s best player this season, and early on VikesWinItAll defied apparent allegiances and named Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That took some courage!

In perusing your comments, I found dominant support for Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and an interesting debate between the merits of Rodgers and Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre.

VikesWinItAll gave the edge to Rodgers because of “the beating he took early in the year.” VikesWinItAll continued: “He does not have an AP type back that is a threat so defenses know they are going to pass which put tremendous pressure on him to perform. His defense was also in flux early in the year adjusting to the 3-4 which did not put Rodgers in good field position often. Favre of course had a great year and is the only reason the Vikes have any kind of shot this post season.”

Rodgers’ and Favre’s passing statistics were close enough to be a wash. So machinemanske supported Rodgers because of the importance of the quarterback position and his 314 rushing yards, which I neglected to include in the original post. That total leads all NFL quarterbacks.

There wasn’t much love for Favre out there. Nicpackers04 wrote he “shouldn’t even be in the conversation” and added: “The Vikings went 10-6 without him last year, and they added Percy Harvin this season. They basically paid 12 million dollars for one extra win. Favre has been good this season no doubt, as has Rodgers. But who's to say that [Tarvaris] Jackson wouldn’t have improved naturally and done just as well with the stacked Vikings?”

That response seeps into the area of “Most Valuable Player,” which we really weren’t debating in this post. Favre’s year should stand on its own merits, wrote effrupnick: “No one has ever done what Favre is doing this year, at his age, and that must be factored in. As far as the Vikings team, yes, they made the playoffs last year, but you can look at 3 games that Favre won with fourth quarter comebacks that they would’ve otherwise lost. And they for sure would’ve lost at least one of the games to Green Bay without Favre, brining their record to 8-7 and out of the playoffs.”

While both quarterbacks have had Pro Bowl seasons, Tehnico points out that only Woodson is a top candidate for an individual postseason award: Defensive Player of the Year. Wrote wagz: “Woodson is not only a shut down corner like [Darrelle] Revis, but blitzes, plays safety/linebacker, covers tight ends and shuts down the run.”

And when it comes to the single best performance of the season, wrote cudaball, Woodson gets the nod. Cudaball: “Woodson against the Cowboys was unbelievable. I have never been wowed like that while watching a game. Woodson has that dominating performance.” Indeed, Woodson finished with nine tackles, two forced fumbles, a sack and an interception in the Packers’ 17-7 victory.

My take? When it comes to discussing an MVP award, it’s hard not to pick a quarterback considering he touches the ball on every offensive play. But the question posed here was to name the player who performed best this season. When looked at from that perspective, it’s hard not to pick Woodson.

Sure, there were some games where his presence was more notable than others. He obviously didn’t do much to stop Favre from throwing seven touchdown passes in two games against the Packers, and he was on the field for all of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 503 passing yards last month.

But from a big-picture perspective, Woodson was an ideal defensive player for most of the season: He covered receivers with exceptional skill while also making plays out of his position’s purview on a regular basis. He was a good pass-rusher and skillful at the point of contact.

So there you have it. Charles Woodson is our NFC North Player of the Year.