The NFL Honors took place on Thursday night, celebrating the individual accomplishments of players across the league. In just his second season, CB DaRon Bland attended the event as a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award. He was joined by his teammate Micah Parsons, who was a finalist for the third-straight year. Bland’s season for the Cowboys was the opposite of bland. In fact, it was historic for a defensive back. In his first season playing on the outside, Bland had a league-leading nine interceptions. Five of his interceptions were returned for a touchdown, breaking the NFL single-season record for most in a season.
My favorite play of the 2023 season. DaRon Bland breaking history.. Jim Nantz on the call.. goosebumps pic.twitter.com/pRQbTgjzpj— Chris Halling (@ChrisHalling_) January 25, 2024
Not only was he a great ball-hawk for the Cowboys, but he was consistently a shutdown corner for the team throughout the season. According to PFF, Bland allowed just 725 yards and three touchdowns throughout the season. This is an average of just 42.6 receiving yards per game. He also only allowed 48 receptions on 89 targets throughout the season.
Despite his record-breaking season, Bland received the least amount of votes out of the five finalists for the award. Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett took the award, with Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt finishing as the runner up. Parsons finished third in voting, after being the runner-up for the award the previous two seasons. Las Vegas Raiders Maxx Crosby received the fourth most votes, leaving Bland in last among the finalists.
Voting for AP Defensive Player of the Year:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 9, 2024
Myles Garrett 23-13-11=165
TJ Watt 19-11-12=140
Micah Parsons 7-16-6=89
Maxx Crosby 0-5-6=21
DaRon Bland 1-2-3=14
Antoine Winfield, Fred Warner, Roquan Smith, Khalil Mack, Justin Madubuike and Dexter Lawrence also got votes.
All of the finalists had incredible seasons, all deserving of praise for their sensational performances. However, none of the candidates had a more historic season than Bland. The last cornerback to win the award was CB Stephon Gilmore, who took home the award in 2019. When comparing their seasons, they are very similar.
Daron Bland "Boom or Bust":— Micah Parsons Fan (@demcowboysfan) February 9, 2024
3 TDs and 725 yards allowed 9 INTs 5 pick sixes (NFL Record) 48 receptions on 89 targets
Stephon Gilmore 2019 DPOY season:
0 TDs and 599 yards allowed 6 INTs 2 def TDs 47 receptions on 96 targets
Media narratives are a crazy thing https://t.co/9CKPvDbqaN
Bland’s final game this season left a sour taste in many fans mouth, as the team allowed 48 points to the Green Bay Packers in their wild card loss in the playoffs. However, Bland had the best statistical season for a cornerback in the 2023 season, and to have such a historic season overlooked is unfortunate.