While Stephon Gilmore will not have a chance to earn his second Super Bowl ring this postseason — the New England Patriots are already eliminated from the playoffs after losing on wild card weekend — his individual accolades are starting to pile up. After already being voted to the Pro Bowl and the first All-Pro team as well as the team of the year by both the Pro Football Writers of America and Pro Football Focus, he now has earned another honor.
As was announced on Tuesday afternoon, Gilmore has been named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL’s Committee of 101 — a group of national sportswriters and broadcasters that hands out annual awards since the 1969 season. The 29-year-old thus becomes just the third Patriots player to earn such an honor after linebacker Andre Tippett (1985) and quarterback Tom Brady (2007, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016).
Seeing Gilmore being named the conference’s top defender for his performance in 2019 is no surprise. He regularly shadowed opposing teams’ top wide receivers but still surrendered only 33 receptions on 80 targets for 456 yards and a single touchdown. On top of it, Gilmore intercepted six passes of which he returned two for touchdowns. He was a key factor why the Patriots finished the regular season as the number one scoring defense in the league.
Being named the AFC’s best defensive player of the season might be a sign of things to come relating to Gilmore’s chances of eventually ending up as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year: not only did the Committee of 101 deem him worthy of representing his conference at the awards ceremony in late February, he also was the only defender to unanimously be voted to the first All-Pro team earlier this month.
Committee of 101 NFL Awards
- Offensive Player of the Year: QB Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens; AFC), WR Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints; NFC)
- Defensive Player of the Year: CB Stephon Gilmore (New England Patriots; AFC), DE Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals; NFC)
- Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens; AFC), Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers; NFC)