Welcome to this new feature at Blogging The Boys, where we vote and hand out The Leon, a soon-to-be prestigious award for members of the Dallas Cowboys. What we want to do is have our own vote for most valuable players for the Cowboys and get your opinion on who you voted for and why.
This week we are looking at the defense.
The 2008 Leons
And the nominees are:
- LB DeMarcus Ware
- NT Jay Ratliff
- LB Bradie James
- CB Terence Newman
Let's look at each player individually:
LB Demarcus Ware
Ware has to been a phenom since he came out of college in 2005. Coming to the NFL he converted from defensive end to linebacker in Bill Parcells' 3-4 defense. Ware's numbers have increased in each of his four seasons and in 2008 he ended up with 20 sacks and 84 tackles. He also earned his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl invitation.
NT Jay Ratliff
Ratliff has been a pleasant surprise this season. As a 7th round draft pick in 2005, he got his first start that season. He became a starter with the injury to Jason Ferguson in 2007. His play garnered him a 5-year extension last year worth $20.5 million and his first Pro Bowl selection this year. He had 7½ sacks in 2008 and was a solid force in the middle.
LB Bradie James
James had a breakout season in 2008 with 8 total sacks and a 3-game sack streak. He also ended the season with a career high 116 tackles. Through the middle of December, James finished 4 out of 5 games with double-digit tackles, including 13 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble in the Thursday Thanksgiviing Day game against the Seattle Seahawks. He emerged as the captain of the defense and led by example.
CB Terence Newman
Newman had some injury issues to deal with this season but, once healthy, was instrumental in the rise of the Cowboys defense this year. He was put on the opponents' top receivers and took them out of the equation. He silenced Cowboys-killer Santana Moss at Washington and rendered Dominek Hixon invisible in the Giants game. He still has excellent speed and can play press coverage better than any other player on the team.