NFLís Top Unsung Heroes in 2012 season
Following are NFL’s top unsung heroes who haven’t received their due appreciation heading into the 2012 playoffs.
Cornerback Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers
The rookie cornerback Casey Hayward fit into a difficult role this season making veteran Charles Woodson’s absence due to collarbone injury hardly noticeable for the Green Bay Packers.
According to stats by Pro Football Focus, Casey Hayward is amongst the top three cornerbacks in NFL over 673 snaps this season. Moreover, Casey Hayward has allowed only a passer rating of 27.7 against him, which is a food 15 points more than his competition in the NFL.
Casey Hayward has made the most impact in the slot, where the Green Bay Packers also often utilized Charles Woodson. The 23-year-old Casey Hayward also ranks third in the NFL with six interceptions this season.
With Casey Hayward, the Green Bay Packers have expressed increasing success against the pass by dropping 80 yards this season.
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys
Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware may be amongst NFL’s elite pass rushers, but opposite him on the left side of the defense Anthony Spencer is making an equal impact on the overall game. Anthony Spencer registered 10 sacks and 24 other quarterback pressures during the season.
The former first-round pick Anthony Spencer is also arguably the most effective run-stopping 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Pro Football Focus marked Anthony Spencer +21.6 against the run, seven points head of No.2 ranking Baltimore Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
While DeMarcus Ware may is the biggest obstacle for left tackles, Anthony Spencer seems to have a hang od his game against the right.
If the Dallas Cowboys eventually see themselves in the playoffs with a Week 17 win over the Washington Redskins, Anthony Spencer will be a big part of that effort.
Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Geno Atkins has risen to a higher level during the Cincinnati Bengals’ rebuilding phase over the last two seasons, but few realize just how dominant he is as an inside threat. It’s partly because teammate J.J.
Watt is the clear leader of the Cincinnati Bengals defensive linemen. But still Geno Atkins at least deserves to come up to a noteworthy second mention.
Pro Football Focus graded Geno Atkins overall at +65.0, three places behind currently No.1 ranking in NFL J.J. Watt (+92.8) and No.2 Denver Broncos’ Von Miller (+77.8).
Additionally, Geno Atkins leads Buffalo Bills veteran Kyle Williams by 31 point after, he ranked No.2 on the the grading scale at defensive tackle and nose tackle during this season. Geno Atkins has registered 13 sacks (which is massive considering his inside position) and has 59 other quarterback pressures.
Still, Geno Atkins name never comes in the same conversation as NFL’s most dominant defensive players.