After eight games in the regular season it is clear that Chicago Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman is on track to be the NFL's defensive player of the year. It is hard to deny the impact that Tillman has made in the early part of the Bears schedule with his 43 tackles, 2 interceptions (both of which he returned for touchdowns), 7 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.
While those stats may not exactly jump of the page, it is the manner in which Tillman has made these plays that have impacted games and turned the tide in the Bears favor.
Just look at last weeks Bears victory over the Titans; Tillman forced Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt to fumble the ball on the Titans very first offensive play. It is plays like that, that can completely demoralize an offense and change the rhythm of a football game. Not to mention that it was the first play, making it that much more demoralizing and game changing.
Tillman did not stop there on Sunday afternoon however, he went on to force three more fumbles throughout the game, giving him 7 total forced fumbles on the season courtesy of Tillman's patented 'ball punch".
Tillman has become a cult hero in Chicago over the years because of this "ball punch". Throughout his career, Tillman has forced a total of 36 fumbles throughout the course of his career, with many of those fumbles coming courtesy of the "ball punch". Some fans have even began ordering shirts with the phrase "Peanut Punch" to celebrate the amazing year that Tillman has had to this point.
If you go back a few weeks to the Bears-Lions Monday night battle, many people began talking about Tillman as a possible defensive player of the year candidate after shutting down Calvin Johnson. Johnson is arguably one of the best wide receivers in the NFL Today and Tillman held him to 3 catches for 34 yards and no touchdowns. Johnson was targeted 11 times in that game and incredibly Tillman held him to only 3 catches in that situation. Throughout that game Johnson appeared frustrated and distraught by the fact that he seemingly could not get away from Tillman.
After one of the best months of his career Tillman was named the NFC's defensive player of the month for October. Tillman had returns for touchdowns in games against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, and the Jacksonville Jaguars in back to back games. Think about that for a minute, an interception return for a touchdown in consecutive games!
Many defensive players have had great seasons so far in the first half of the NFL season, but none of them have made the type of impact Tillman has to this point. Sure there is JJ Watt, defensive end of the Houston Texans, but has he won a game for the Texans? Or you have Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins who has been incredible to this point, but has his impact been as deep as Tillman's? The answer to both of these questions is no. And that is why at the midpoint of the season, Charles Tillman is your NFL defensive player of the year!