The Colts will head into the playoffs this weekend with high hopes, but they may have a problem in the form of Darius Leonard. Why, you ask? Because by the time Saturday arrives, I’m not sure Leonard will be able to play under the weight of all the hardware he just can’t stop from collecting.
Leonard has yet again done something incredible. He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Titans, and has now been awarded the AFC Defensive Player of the Month.
Darius Leonard is the second #Colts rookie to ever win AFC Player of the Month honors.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 3, 2019
He finished December with 49 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 passes defensed and 1 interception.https://t.co/qBLvVNJz6S
Only one other Colts rookie, Edgerrin James, has ever been named AFC Player of the Month. The last time a Colts defender took home that award was in 2013 when Robert Mathis did it in back to back months on his way to a 19.5 sack season.
What Leonard has done this season as a rookie is simply incredible. His stats would be wild even if they were coming at the hands of a veteran. Instead, this is a young, raw player who has layers he can still add to his game and a lot of tread on his tires.
The Colts got to witness back in 2012 the impact that a game changing talent can have on a team. Andrew Luck was that guy, and he raised the level of play of the entire offense around him. He took a team from 2-14 to a playoff berth.
Now we are getting to see what it looks like when you give your defense that same kind of playmaker. Everyone around Darius Leonard plays better because of him. He forces teams to plan for him in a way they hadn’t had to do with the Colts for a long time. As his level of play has raised, so has that of the rest of the team.
This season has been a joy to watch out of Leonard, and it would be a travesty if he weren’t given the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. If that were somehow to happen, however, you could simply chalk it up as one more personal slight that would motivate Leonard to prove all his doubters wrong.
So go ahead voters. Pass Leonard by. We’ll just be watching as he arrives for the playoffs like the God of Thunder.