Although a number of defensive players have had outstanding 2008 seasons (Ed Reed, Troy Polomalu, Albert Haynesworth, James Harrison, and my personal favorite 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis), I really don't see a Lawrence Taylor in this year's group of top defenders.
I see five players who clearly have played outstanding football throughout the season, and I ultimately believe one will emerge as the leagues MVP.
Would I in any way match their season numbers with that of the past four winners: Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander, LaDanian Tomlinson and Tom Brady? Maybe so, but I really don't see it that way.
Kurt Warner – I honestly thought he had little left in his last two seasons with the Rams and still believe much of his success has to do with the offensive system of play and the fine receiving options that he has at his disposal. His 69% completion average is crazy, as is his eye-popping stats of 4,020 passing yards and 25 TD passes through the first 13 games of the season. I don't think he's going to ultimately capture the big prize, but Kurt, the 2001 winner, has answered his critics with a truly outstanding season.
Clinton Portis - The Redskin back has proven to be a special runner this season displaying size, power and instincts. He's been beat up for much of the season, but has still managed to run for 1,260 yards while averaging 4.7 yards a carry. The Skins offense has literally disappeared during the second half of the season, but with the exception of the past two weeks, Portis has continued to play excellent football. What I didn't like and totally excluded him from consideration were his thoughtless remarks regarding head coach Jim Zorn' offensive system of play and game preparation.
Drew Brees – I really like this player's make up, throwing accuracy and the way he has been able to make the people around him better. Playing in an offense that suits his strengths as a player, Drew was on fire out of the box. Although he has come back to earth in the second half of the season, Brees has come through on numerous occasions when the Saints desperately needed him to step up. The New Orleans market and the club's disappointing season will probably block him from winning the league's MVP, but Brees is a very good football player and a true team leader.
Adrian Peterson is, in my opinion, the most dominant, electric, football player in the National Football League. He's got a ton of ability, speed and instincts. As a college player, I never had a doubt that he would be a star player at the professional level, but I and many others had some real question as to his ability to stay healthy. Despite the Vikings very inconsistent passing game, Peterson has accumulated six hundred-yard games out of the last eight he's played. Like all great players, Peterson has made up for his team's deficiencies by literally put the division-leading club on his back. His numbers are impressive on the season (1413 yards 4.8 and 9 TD's) in 13 games, but really excited me was his jaw dropping back to back to back efforts this year versus the Bears, Texans, and Packers.
THE WINNER: I really wouldn't be disappointed nor surprised to see the aforementioned Adrian Peterson capture his first league MVP, but my choice for this prize goes to Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner.
In my opinion, Turner has been the key element in the tremendous success of the Atlanta Falcons this year. Running for 1269 yards and 14 TD's through 13 games, he also has greatly contributed to the success of rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, and amazingly kept this young club in playoff contention. The inner-city Chicago native has really paid his dues and showed a great deal of unselfishness as a four-year caddy for LaDanian Tomlinson in San Diego.
But, in 2008, it appears that this hard-running back has finally and truly arrived.