The level of play at inside linebacker this season at the very top has been simply astonishing with no less than five players putting in performances to a level that would be worthy of All-Pro consideration. While the likes of Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Brian Cushing, and Ray Lewis have put in those displays on playoff-bound teams, Derrick Johnson is not getting the same recognition playing for the underachieving Chiefs. His every-down play shedding blocks in the running game is as good as any of the other four in this group and his ability in coverage is strong as well, allowing only 68.9% of passes his way to be completed. However, for Johnson it’s the marquee plays and what he has meant to the Chiefs in key situations that establish him just that half step above the others who are playing so well this season. Plays such as his series in Oakland in Week 7: at a crucial juncture of the game, Johnson made all four stops on a goal-line stand inside the Kansas City 5-yard-line to keep the Raiders out of the end zone and off of the scoreboard. It’s for his down-to-down consistency and his ability to carry the Chiefs’ defense in critical spots that Derrick Johnson is the one player from a group of five exceptional inside linebackers who merits the Defensive Player of the Year Award.