Who Deserved The 2010 Defensive Player Of The Year?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The metrics WPA and EPA are explained here

Recently, Troy Polamalu was named Defensive Player of the Year. While the advanced statistics show that Clay Matthews was not even close to the best linebacker (guys like Brian Urlacher, Lamaar Woodley, and James Harrison have shown to have better numbers) you could watch him play to know how amazing he was in 2010. Before this post, I thought Matthews should have won the award over Polamalu. While it is extremely hard to use traditional statistics to compare a safety to a linebacker, we'll see what the advanced metrics have to say.

Matthews- 1.34
Polamalu- 2.41

Matthews- 50.7
Polamalu- 59.1

Unfortunately, Football Outsiders does not use advanced metrics to evaluate individual defensive players so I'm sad to say Advanced NFL Stats statistics are the only metrics I have to go off of to compare a safety to a linebacker.

Here's who had the best statistics per every defensive position:

2.65- Lawrence Timmons (PIT)- Linebacker
2.54- DeAngelo Hall (WAS)- Cornerback
2.41- Troy Polamalu (PIT)- Safety
2.01- Jared Allen (MIN)-Defensive End
1.58- Darnell Dockett (ARI)- Defensive Tackle

I truly think DeAngelo Hall has such a high WPA was because of the "DeAngelo Hall effect". The effect, coined by The 'Bright' One and myself, actually refers to the effect that a cornerback is so bad that he gets thrown on a lot and therefore his chance of getting an interception increases and therefore gets a lot of interceptions (see: his 4 interception game against Jay Cutler). But that same logic applies to why Hall would get so many tackles and thus increase his WPA.

79.1- Justin Tuck (NYG)- Defensive End
69.6- Lawrence Timmons (PIT)- Linebacker
63.6- Terrell Thomas (NYG)- Cornerback
59.1- Troy Polamalu (PIT)- Safety
49.0- Darnell Dockett (ARI)- Defensive Tackle

According to these numbers, the true Defensive Player of the Year should have been Polamalu's teammate Lawrence Timmons who put up better numbers than Polamalu in both WPA and EPA. However, considering the numbers linebackers get compared to other positions, I'm assuming it's because of the nature of the position where they get to defend the pass as well as the run versus a position like a safety which mainly defends the pass only.

However, Polamalu was by far and away the best safety versus Clay Matthews who was nowhere close to being the best linebacker. So if the choice was really between Matthews and Polamalu, the football writers unequivocally made the correct decision. And truth be told, they probably did make the correct one. But if you ask me, now that I have written this post, who actually deserved the award was Lawrence Timmons.