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Today’s Carolina-Washington game will feature two top candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Chase Young

Seattle Seahawks v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

If you’re a Washington fan, it’s easy to feel strongly that Chase Young is the top candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and most betting sites have him listed as the favorite. Having been injured in Week 3 and playing just 13 snaps, and missing the Week 4 game due to injury, here’s a look at what Chase Young has accomplished statistically in 12 full games + 13 snaps:

  • 38 tackles, including 8 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks
  • 3 passes defended
  • 3 forced fumbles
  • one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown

In Week 14 against the San Francisco 49ers, Young had probably the best game of his young career as he recorded a sack, two passes defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery which he returned 47 yards for a touchdown, becoming the first rookie in NFL history and only the third player since 1999 to achieve all of that in a single game.

Raw traditional statistics, however, don’t do justice to what Chase Young has meant to the team. For example, Chase Young, as a rookie, already faces the kind of double-teaming from opposing offensive lines that is usually reserved for established veterans.

This means that those offensive linemen can’t give double-team attention on the interior to talented tackles like Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne or Tim Settle, or on the other side of the line to Montez Sweat or Ryan Kerrigan. The defensive standings for the Washington Football Team speak to the overall success of the unit:

  • Total defense (yards) 4th
  • Scoring defense 5th
  • Sacks 6th(t)
  • Rush defense (Weeks 13-15) 9th
  • Takeaways per game (Weeks 13-15) 4th(t)

Possibly more impressive is the leadership role that Chase Young has established as a rookie.

Recently, Alex Smith, who knows a thing or two about how to lead, described Young’s leadership traits as “crazy unusual”. Ron Rivera has echoed the sentiment a number of times, recently saying, “There’s an energy to who he is and it’s positive, and that’s what I think he likes to carry with himself — the positive energy.”

But Chase Young isn’t the only defensive rookie in today’s game that is in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Jeremy Chinn

Denver Broncos v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

If you haven’t heard Chinn’s name much before, chances are that you’ll have heard it plenty by the end of today’s game in Landover; Jeremy Chinn, despite being a rookie, is one of the Panthers’ most dynamic defensive playmakers.

The Panthers selected Chinn in the second round of the draft, 64th overall, and they have gotten their money’s worth from the rookie in his first thirteen games.

At Southern Illinois, he played both safety and cornerback. The Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, lists Chinn as a linebacker/safety.

Per PFF, Chinn has lined up at a variety of positions for the Panthers already. In 835 defensive snaps, his most frequent position has been in the box (S/LB - 327 snaps), but he has also lined up at free safety (208 snaps), slot corner (201 snaps), on the DL (78 snaps), and at boundary corner (21 snaps).

Wherever he’s lining up, Chinn has had a lot of success.

  • 102 tackles, including 4 QB hits, 2 tackles for loss and a sack
  • 5 passes defended
  • 1 interception
  • 2 forced fumbles
  • 2 fumble returns (both for touchdowns on back-to-back plays in the same game)

In Week 6 against the Chicago Bears, Chinn recorded his first career interception off a pass thrown by Nick Foles. He went on to be named Defensive Rookie of the Month after posting 30 tackles, four passes defensed, and an interception in the month of October.

In Week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings, Chinn had probably the best game of his sort professional career as he recovered a fumble lost by quarterback Kirk Cousins and returned it for a 17 yard touchdown, and then, on the next play of the game, Chinn forced a fumble on running back Dalvin Cook, recovered the football, and returned it for a 28 yard touchdown. Chinn finished that game with a team high 13 tackles and was named the Defensive Rookie of the Month for the second time for his performance in November.

Cat Scratch Reader had this to say about the November award:

The Defensive Rookie of the Month award does take a little of the sting away from Chinn being robbed of the Defensive Player of the Week award in a week where he became the only player in NFL history to score two defensive touchdowns on back-to-back plays, but I guess he can’t win everything because that would be unfair to everyone else.

Winning back-to-back Rookie of the Month awards does bode well for his chances to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, however, since no other player will be able to make that claim this season.

Once again, a friendly reminder: The Panthers chose to draft Derrick Brown with the No. 7 overall pick instead of Isaiah Simmons, and then traded back into the second round and selected Chinn with the No. 64 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

tl;dr - Jeremy Chinn is still good at football.

Tough Choices

Choosing between the two rookies, Chinn and Young, for DROY honors will be difficult, and whichever player ends up not getting the award will probably be shortchanged, as both have had great seasons.

“If you’d asked me after the Minnesota game, when (Chinn) had the two scores, I’d tell you he’s the guy,” Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero said. “But you’re asking me after a weekend of games in which Chase Young was dominant against the 49ers and I cannot stop thinking he’s the guy right now.”

Of course, they are not the only two candidates for the award, but I think they are the two most likely. Other notable defensive rookies who merit consideration include Patrick Queen of the Ravens, Julian Blackmon of the Colts, and Antoine Winfield Jr. of Tampa Bay.

But, of course, none of those guys are playing against each other today.

Today’s Carolina-Washington game puts Chase Young and Jeremy Chinn on the same field, and, coming as it does in Week 16, may have a huge impact on the voters when it comes to the DROY award. It’s very possible that the player that has the better game this afternoon in Landover will end up with a shiny new trophy for his shelf after the end of the season.

Poll

Who will get the Defensive Rookie of the Year award?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    DE Chase Young, WAS
    (190 votes)
  • 8%
    S Jeremy Chinn, CAR
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    ILB Patrick Queen, BAL
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    S Julian Blackmon, IND
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    DB Antoine Winfield Jr., TB
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    someone else
    (1 vote)
210 votes total Vote Now