With his career-high fifth pick-six in his eleventh game of the season, Cowboys cornerback Darren Plant entered the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.
It’s not even a debate for at least one teammate.
“He won Defensive Player of the YearDefense Israel Mukuamu said, by Michael Gehlken Dallas Morning News. “He should. It’s a must. There’s no question.”
There is a question because there are other possible candidates. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has 13 sacks. Vikings defensive end Daniel Hunter 12. Steelers linebacker TJ Watt and Cowboys do-it-all defender Micah Parsons 11.5.
Yes, Micah Parsons. One of the most consistently dominant and engaging players in football. Also a member of the Cowboys.
Bland has broken the record for being in the right place, at the right time on defense. If he’s a shutdown corner, he won’t get as many opportunities to: (1) intercept a pass; and (2) return it for a touchdown.
It did not fall short of his record. It doesn’t scream “Defensive Player of the Year.” That’s the irony of being considered a big corner. If you are, you won’t get opportunities to show it. If you don’t, you do.
The opposing offense may have misunderstood him and stubbornly refused to admit it. Regardless, the five interceptions returned for touchdowns may not surpass the pass rusher’s single-season record of 22.5.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones understands that point, or he doesn’t want to figure out how to pay Plant along with Parsons and quarterback Dak Prescott and other key players. The good news for Jerry is that Plant is not eligible for a new contract until after the 2024 season.
“I don’t know about that,” Jones told reporters of Plant, “but I definitely thought he got Defensive Player of the Week. He [maybe] He needs to be an offensive player the way he runs into the end zone. Pull it out for consideration.”
Plant is definitely being considered for Defensive Player of the Year. But there is a long way to go and predators abound. If he gets two or three more in the last six games, it will be hard to deny him votes.