Browns starting middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September, the NFL announced today.
In the past two years, Jackson has torn both of his pectoral muscles and missed 26 consecutive games. However, his comeback this season has been remarkable.
"It doesn't surprise me that he's playing at an extremely high level," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "I expected it based on what I've learned about him in the last few months. Normally when your Mike linebacker is playing well and doing good things, it adds a huge boost to your defense, and I'm glad for that."
Jackson has compiled 30 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, helping the Browns start a season with a record of 2-1 for the first time since 2002. Jackson's 30 tackles are tied for fourth in the league. His 2.5 sacks rank second among all AFC linebackers and are tied for fourth in the conference. The Browns' defense has allowed just five touchdowns this season, which is tied for fourth in the league.
"He's got that unique combination of feel for the game and athleticism, to see it then get it done" Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. "He's got a strong desire to get to the football on every play."
This is the first AFC award of Jackson’s six-year career. He is the fourth Browns player to be named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month since the award was established in 1986 and the first since safety Eric Turner earned the honor in 1994.
When the Browns' new coaches decided how their players would fit into the team's new 4-3 defense, they identified Jackson as their middle linebacker from the get-go, Shurmur said. Jackson hasn't disappointed since.
"What I learned about him was basically during training camp when I watched him take care of his business," Shurmur said. "He made very few mistakes. He helped get guys lined up. He was very good at stopping the run as well as playing the pass. Just being around him, you see those things, and you get a feel from a guy that gets things. And he gets it. The world makes sense to D'Qwell, and he understand the process of being a pro and he's a talented guy."