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» Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Stomping the Jags leaves Washington No. 2 behind only Denver. But what can we really learn from one big win early in the season, before we are applying opponent adjustments?

27 Dec 2006

2006 Every Play Counts All-Pro Team

by Michael David Smith

After a year of watching game tapes, it's time to pick the elite players I saw this season for the annual Every Play Counts All-Pro Team. Some of the names you see below will surprise you, others are expected, and all deserve recognition as the season winds to a close.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis

Drew Brees of New Orleans will probably be the more popular choice. Brees has had a great year in difficult circumstances, but Manning is just on another level compared to all the other quarterbacks in the NFL right now.

Fullback: Lorenzo Neal, San Diego

Fullbacks are an endangered species in the NFL; many teams use three-receiver formations without a fullback more often than they use the standard pro set with a fullback. But it would seem like cheating to skip fullbacks when choosing an all-pro team, so I have a spot for one. It was a tough choice between Neal and Jim Finn of the Giants, but Neal gets the nod by a hair because he seems a little more integral to the Chargers' offense than Finn does to the Giants'. More on Neal here.

Running back: LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego

I don't consider this as easy a choice as most people do -- I think a good case can be made for Kansas City's Larry Johnson, who doesn't get the kind of blocking Tomlinson gets -- but I'm taking Tomlinson because he fits so perfectly in San Diego, where his coaches and teammates say he carries the team on his shoulders.

Tight end: Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City

This came down to a decision among Gonzalez, San Diego's Antonio Gates, Chicago's Desmond Clark, Houston's Owen Daniels and Cleveland's Kellen Winslow. I eliminated Gates because when I watch the Chargers, I don't see him have to fight through as much traffic as most tight ends, as the linebackers are more focused on stopping the running game. Daniels has talent, but a lot of his production comes from Gary Kubiak's dink-and-dunk offense, which has stressed repeated check downs in an attempt to keep David Carr out of trouble. Clark and Winslow have been the best players in a couple of unstable passing games in Chicago and Cleveland, which is important. But ultimately Gonzalez just did so much for both of his quarterbacks, Trent Green and Damon Huard, that he was the best pick.

Wide receivers: Javon Walker, Denver; Chad Johnson, Cincinnati

The choice of Walker might seem surprising, but consider that he was on a new team with two different quarterbacks, neither one of whom played well. Walker is a big play threat in his prime, and acquiring him was a great move by Mike Shanahan. What really sets Johnson apart is his route running. Carson Palmer always knows exactly where Johnson will be. Johnson had a bad game Sunday against Denver, but not bad enough to knock him off the all-pro squad.

Left tackle: Marcus McNeill, San Diego

McNeill should get rookie of the year recognition for the season he's had in San Diego. In a year when many of the old standbys at left tackle, like Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones, began to decline, McNeill established himself as the best player in the league at the most important line position.

Right tackle: Willie Anderson, Cincinnati

Anderson has long been the best run-blocking tackle in the league, but I was particularly impressed at his pass blocking when I saw him take on Carolina's Julius Peppers. He's a complete player.

Guards: Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia; Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh

Andrews has always had talent, and in his third season he put it all together, thanks in large part to losing some weight. Faneca is one of the few guards in the league who can be counted on both for great straight-ahead blocking on simple runs up the middle and for pulling on traps and sweeps.

Center: Brad Meester, Jacksonville

Meester makes enormous contributions to a good team but gets hardly any recognition. Watch any highlight of Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew and you're likely to see a very good block by Meester springing the play.

Defensive ends: Julius Peppers, Carolina; Jason Taylor, Miami

Peppers has the speed of a linebacker and great instincts as a pass rusher. Like the rest of his team, he went into a bit of a decline late in the season, but for the totality of his year he still deserves an all-pro spot. Taylor turned 32 before the season and still was the best defensive player in the league.

Defensive tackles: Pat Williams, Minnesota; John Henderson, Jacksonville

As the most important player to maybe the best run defense since the AFL-NFL merger, Williams was an easy pick. I'm shocked that he didn't make the Pro Bowl. Maybe he was left off the roster as punishment for listing his weight as 317 -- if Williams weighs 317, I weigh 117. Henderson was left off the Pro Bowl roster, too, even though he can rush the passer and absorb double teams, which helps the Jaguars' inexperienced linebacking corps. Even my third choice at defensive tackle, Dallas's Jason Ferguson, was a snub. Suffice to say, the Pro Bowl voters and I are looking at different games when we choose defensive tackles.

Inside linebacker: Brian Urlacher, Chicago

This season the Bears have stopped using Urlacher as a blitzing linebacker, and it's improving his overall game: He's gotten more disciplined against the run and has had his best season overall.

Outside linebackers: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas; Adalius Thomas, Baltimore

Ware has been amazing and he's still getting better. I have a feeling he's going to be an all-pro for most of the next decade. Thomas and his teammate Bart Scott are the best pair of outside linebackers in football; Thomas gets the spot on this all-pro team because he can do a little of everything and is a very good special teams player.

Cornerbacks: Champ Bailey, Denver; Pac-Man Jones, Tennessee

The league leaders in interceptions aren't always the best defensive backs -- they're often players who get thrown at a lot. But Bailey leads the league in picks even though quarterbacks usually try to avoid him. If Jones would stop acting like such a jerk, everyone would realize what a unique talent he is. He could have a Deion Sanders-like career as a cover corner and return man if he can stay out of trouble.

Safeties: Ed Reed, Baltimore; Adrian Wilson, Arizona

Reed and Wilson are similar players: They can blitz, they can cover, they can stop the run. I strongly considered giving a spot to the Jets' Kerry Rhodes, but I don't see him making quite as many impact plays as Reed and Wilson.

Kicker: Robbie Gould, Chicago

Gould has one of the strongest legs in football, and although he has come back to earth a bit after a hot start to the season on field goals, he's been the best kicker in the league by a comfortable margin.

Punter: Brian Moorman, Buffalo

Buffalo's winds make it a tough place to punt, but Moorman is great at navigating those winds. I don't know if any punter has ever had a better game than Moorman's against Green Bay in November, when he punted eight times, averaging 47.4 yards a punt, landing four of his punts inside the 20-yard line with no touchbacks, and getting such good hang time that Green Bay totaled just nine punt return yards. Moorman was the biggest reason Buffalo beat Green Bay 24-10 even though Green Bay had 427 total yards to Buffalo's 184 and 26 first downs to Buffalo's 11.

Returner: Devin Hester, Chicago

He really, really needs to learn to hold onto the ball, but Hester has been such a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands that his fumbles aren't (quite) enough to knock him off this all-pro team.

Coach: Brian Billick, Baltimore

From bringing in Steve McNair to firing Jim Fassel, Billick wasn't afraid to take risks. His decisions have paid off, and the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders. Not many people expected that before the season.

Past EPC All-Pro Teams

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 27 Dec 2006

110 comments, Last at 02 Jan 2007, 12:08pm by Rich Conley

Comments

1
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 1:51pm

RE: Urlacher - I'd like to here from someone who's watched most of his games. What makes him good? I'm always skeptical when white players-playing-black-player-positions get more than their share of publicity.

2
by jjcruiser (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 1:59pm

Interesting, well reasoned article and I enjoyed it, MDS.

One gripe: Bilick? Your justification is that he fired Fassel (whom he hired) and hired McNair (when McNair was only the third best, at best, QB available)? That's very weak justification, in a world of more worthy coaching candidates like Payton, Mangini, or old standards who have kept their teams in it (Shanahan, Belichick and Schottenheimer all come to mind).

3
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 1:59pm

1: That's funny, because MLB is a traditionally "white" position, as it's often referred to as the "QB" of the defense.

How about not thinking about what color the dude is and making an assessment based solely on what he does?

4
by Adam H (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:01pm

Middle linebacker is a black position?

5
by Underground Man (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:02pm

It would have been nice if you listed honorable mentions or did separate AFC and NFC teams so we could get a better overall idea of who you like.

I think the biggest surprise is seeing Urlacher here but not Briggs. I know Urlacher has gotten good press here but Briggs really is the chic "best player" pick among Bears defenders.

6
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:13pm

4: Probably because of Ray Lewis some people think that.

The 3 best MLBs over the last five years have been Urlacher, Lewis and a healthy Dan Morgan. Vilma, Fletcher, Bruschi and Farrior have been good too. I'd say overall linebacker is moving more and more towards being a black position. Of course compared to 20-30 years ago all positions are like that.

7
by Atul (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:19pm

honestly, DeMeco Ryans plays better at the MLB spot than Urlacher and he does it while he is the lone bright spot on a very bad defense, in the bears games i saw this season (all of them), Urlacher hardly has to do anything than put up his gameface for the camera every once in a while

8
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:27pm

A tough task indeed. I don't know about Faneca. The few Steelers games I watched he was barely adequate. He seems to be a guy trading on his past success at this point. However, not having a better suggestion, I won't beat up his selection too much.

9
by COINFLIP (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:34pm

Interestly, I notice there are no Patriots on this list, and yet they are currently the #3 DVOA rated team.
I guess that emphasises the nature of football as a team sport: A combination of good + very-good players outperforms combinations of excellent + mediocre players.
(Cf: 2006 Indianapolis Colts)

10
by ajn (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:36pm

re:2

why is no one talking about jeff fisher in the coach-of-the-year discussion?

payton: i think he's getting way too much credit for a team that wouldn't make the playoffs in the afc (the saints two best wins (v.atl, v.dal) were both on primetime television, and they've thrown up some stinkers (last three games).

mangini: ok, fine. his team is going to make the playoffs with a guy who can't throw twenty yards. fine.

fisher: team with extremely young roster, departed stars, and multiple headcases (al haynesworth, pac-man) starts 0-5 and proceeds to possibly go 9-2 over the last eleven games. i know most people don't watch titans games every weekend, but all the close games the titans have been winning haven't been simple luck.

homer rant...over.

11
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:44pm

Just wanted to say I couldn't agree more with No. 9: It's important to remember when looking at all-pro teams that just because one team has four all-pros and another team has none, that doesn't say much of anything about which team is better. I'd much rather have the 10th best starter in the league at all 22 positions than the best starter in the league at 11 positions and the worst starter in the league at 11 positions.

12
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:45pm

Fun fact about Jim Finn: he's the only Mr. Irrelevant currently starting in the NFL.

13
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:46pm

Linebacker is a black position because it is an athletic position. QB, P, K aren't because they're not. I'm not looking for an argument; these are facts.

14
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:48pm

8: Kris Dielman comes to mind.

15
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:54pm

Not everyone is as high on McNeill. Kirwan of NFL.com was writing about the impact of this year's draft class and specifically named 15 players (nine on offense and two of them o-linemen).

16
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:57pm

Here it is: there are 20 black MLBs, 8 white, and 1 Lofa Totafu (sp?). So, MLB is about as black as the rest of the league (>70%). I didn't make note of who's a starter or backup, because I don't have those data.

17
by Barnas (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:59pm

Those are only facts if you accept that the color of your skin means that you can be better at something, or worse at something.

I, therefore, consider them to be the furthest thing possible from facts.

A moment whilst I get down off of my high horse to continue. Ah.

Best linebackers of the last 5 years, and no Zach Thomas? That's just harsh. He's been a truely great player.

Also, good to see PacMan Jones getting more credit. He's a really decent player, just needs to get his head on straight.

18
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:59pm

Dielman would be a good selection. As a Patriot fan, I didn't want to bring up Logan Mankins, but I think he's played considerably better than Faneca. However, that's not entirely fair, since I've seen 15 Patriot games, and I believe 4 Steeler games.

Has Hutchinson really declined that much? Lutui has also looked pretty good in limited action.

19
by Robert Z. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:00pm

Uhh...Where's Merriman? You honestly feel the Ravens have a better pair of OLBs than the Chargers??

Props for recognizing the job McNeil has done for us at Left Tackle, but you failed to pick the proper OLBs.

Merriman is the only guy in the league who in the past two years AVERAGES over 1 sack a game started. 21 starts, 24.5 sacks....c'mon, thats dominant.

And Shaun Philips isnt far behind him, in fact he is second in the league with an average of 0.96 sacks per game started.

20
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:03pm

13: Are you some sort of oddball troll?

Brad Meester is the unexpected pick. I didn't know he was good, and he's in my own division. Is it possible that he's looked really good this season because he's gotten to block the Colts' interior linemen?

21
by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:13pm

Coming from a Bengals fan, I wholeheartedly disagree with Chad Johnson being on the team. Chad has had a roller coaster season, and while the highs were as big as we've seen, the lows have been glaring. Take away the two-game 450 yard outburst against the Chargers and Saints, and CJ would be on pace for just over 1000 yards for the year and a whopping 2 TDs. If you are going to have an all-pro receiver, he has to prove his worth in more than two games. Plus, he's dropped a number of passes in crucial situations, and simply doesn't block. For what it's worth, I'd rather have T.J. on my team.

22
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:14pm

Can't argue with most of these, but as a Ravens homer I have to point out

1) I don't think he's the best TE in the league, but Todd Heap deserves to mentioned among the best. He's a better blocker than Gates, Winslow, and Gonzalez but not quite as good a reciever.

2) If Ogden maybe started his decline last year or the year before, this has definitely a bounceback season. He came into it in terrific shape and has been just as good as he ever was, and is one of the main reasons the offensive line, despite having injuries and a lot of young players step in, has been able to keep McNair upright and healthy (only 14 sacks).

23
by James (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:16pm

It seems like the defensive 7 were based on a 4-3 defense, would you change the picks significantly if they were required to play a 3-4?

24
by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:19pm

Wow, I knew that Marcus McNeill was widely considered to be good, but best left tackle in the NFL as a rookie? If you are right, MDS, and I have no particular reason to doubt you, then that is one of the more incredible individual accomplishments in NFL history. The best player at one of the most important positions in the NFL as a rookie? You could make a case that McNeill is not only the rookie of the year but right up there with Lawrence Taylor, Randy Moss, Eric Dickerson, and surely some others who aren't coming to mind as one of the best rookies of all time.

25
by Lou (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:21pm

I've seen Urlacher blitz plenty of times this year.

26
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:25pm

re: 19
If sacks were the only measure of a LB, you'd have a great point. Scott and Thomas are much more versatile than Philips and Merriman, not only can they rush the passer but are excellent in rush and pass defense, allowing the Ravens to use many different fronts and blitz packages.

27
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:25pm

So, any guesses on who's going to win the Pro Bowl?

...Seriously, though one NFC guy on offense and I can't disagree with anything.

Who's the All-pro long snapper, holder, and special teams ace?

28
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:26pm

24: I've watched him play every game and I think he's definitely one of the elite tackles, but I have a hard time calling him the best. Though, honestly, I'm not sure who is better.

29
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:27pm

26: Phillips still has a good bit of room to improve against the run. Merriman is just a dominant force, though.

30
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:28pm

I really wish there was a packer I could say deserved to be on this team. Kampman was probably close, and I'd actually take Driver over Johnson. But I'd take Harrisson over either.

31
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:35pm

Also of note Brian Moorman is really fast. I don't know that that is worth much as a punter (though, he is probably the only punter in the NFL that could chase down the returner from behind). He was in the NFL's fastest man competition last year (or maybe the year before) and was only about half a step behind Deangelo Hall, Andre Johnson, and whoever else was competing. Apparently he ran track in college, I was impressed.

32
by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:44pm

re 10: [sarcasm]Yeah, the Titans haven't had any luck at all. That was just a great fake-out by Young to get the Giants' lineman to let him go instead of sacking him. And there was no luck at all in beating the Jags on three defensive TDs.[/sarcasm]

Seriously, I think Fisher has done a great job in turning the team around and certainly should be mentioned in coach of the year talks. But saying the Titans haven't had any luck is just absurd.

33
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:47pm

Whenever I think of ROBOPUNTER I think of Mike Scifres. I can't fathom how he's not even mentioned... and I don't think anyone else is even close. He's always dropping the ball inside the 10... and I don't care that he doesn't get the chance to punt a lot.

In conclusion, Mike Scifres is ROBOPUNTER. I can even tell this without looking at any stats... why isn't this common knowledge on a site like FO!? Accurscore even says Mike Scifres is Robopunter!

34
by Michael Irvin? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:55pm

"RE: Urlacher - I’d like to here from someone who’s watched most of his games. What makes him good? I’m always skeptical when white players-playing-black-player-positions get more than their share of publicity."

Maybe his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother pulled one of her studs out from the barn and said "Come on over here for a second" and they went out to work in the yard. You know, back in the day.

35
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:56pm

I read the article twice to see if i disagree with you and the answer is NOPE

However, i dont think you got the coach right .. to me it is between LS, SP, BB, and MS - the reason being that the offense and defense have more evenly matched contributions than the Ravens (a little leeway required in Payton's case!).

36
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:58pm

Re: 10 (Jeff Fisher)

In every sport there is a tendency to give coach of the year to a guy whose team sucked for the first 1/4 or 1/3 of the season, then turned things around. I think this is dumb, because how is that guy a better coach than someone whose team was actually good for the entire season? Note that many coach of the year winners who win on that basis turn out not to be so great (no I don't have research to back that up, but it's something I've noticed in all sports).

Meanwhile, Sean Payton has taken a team which EVERYONE predicted to be in last place, to be maybe one of the worst teams in the league, and coached it to the #2 seed. This, with a roster of rookies, rejects, no names, old and injured Joe Horn, and FO whipping boy Deuce. You say they wouldn't make the playoffs in the AFC? NO has a higher DVOA than Cincy or Denver, two teams likely to make the AFC wildcards.

I'm not saying Fisher has done a bad job, not at all. But there is no way you can make a reasonable case that he's done better than Payton.

37
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:01pm

I'm surprised Cooley isn't mentioned at TE. He has come on strong with Campbell at QB.

I agree with the Bengals fan on TJ Housmanzadeh. I think Housh is the best WR on that team, even if people consider him a possession WR.

As someone who's been thinking about the HoF merits of a certain homer-team WR...one of the best things about this season is the number of WRs putting up Art Monk like stats under a similar environment. Furrey, Lav Coles, Housh, Cotchery... using DPAR you can really see who runs good routes and who doesn't.

38
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:13pm

SJM - Cincy is not likely to make the playoffs if Jets and Broncos both win (which is very likely when facing the raiders and 49ers)

looks to me like cincy is this year's version of san diego chargers 2005

(at least that gives them hope that they will do great next year ... if the bengal players don't mess with ... never mind)

39
by D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:35pm

#34
Good point. I don't think that there is any other possible way to explain how a white guy could be the fastest MLB in the NFL. I mean he really does have deceptive speed.
In all seriousness though #1, Urlacher may be the best interior linebacker in the NFL in pass coverage (though that is certainly open to debate). When you watch him it is not surprising that he was a safety in college. He is also a good tackler and has really improved against the run (unless that runner is a slow footed QB from New England).

40
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:50pm

No Giants on the roster? Snee and Lorenzen would be a great pair of guards.

41
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:50pm

I nominate Mike Patterson for DT. He's darn good.

42
by blahblahfalcons (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:51pm

One meme that seems to be getting some traction is that Merriman is just a pass-rusher and isn't as complete a linebacker as your Demarcus Wares and whatnot. is this really true? I only watched one SD game this year so I can't really say.

43
by RCH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:10pm

MDS - You obviously picked a 4-3 D...any thoughts on the best 3-4 NT?

44
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:12pm

Al Wilson

45
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:19pm

Disco Stu,

Not a NYG follower, but was that a joke because Lorenzen is about 400 lbs as a QB? (There may be another Lorenzen who IS an OG out there, I don't know). If so, excellent one. If I was only smarter, I'd actually have gotten it!

46
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:44pm

No Torry Holt? The Rams would be nothing without him.

Also, to anyone who thinks Briggs is better than Urlacher, you need to go watch the Miami game. Actually you can just look up the stats, it tells the whole story.

47
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:46pm

I hope Merriman was left off the team due to his guilt of taking performance enhancing substance of some sort.

Off the top of my head I don't think he's all that bad playing against the run.

48
by Grim Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:57pm

RE:7
Did you watch the Arizona game?

49
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:11pm

"No Torry Holt? The Rams would be nothing without him."

Torry Holt is the 3rd best WR on his team this year.

50
by Robert Z. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:21pm

#42 and 47,

click my link name to see merriman against the run.

51
by Mnatr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:27pm

Sean Payton is my coach of the year. He's gone for it on fourth down enough times to show me that he understands it helps him win games.

I generally rate coaches (and baseball managers) based on the strategic decisions they make. In the NFL you can look at play-calling and schemes. In MLB you can look at bunting, lineup construction, and pitcher abuse.

52
by Mnatr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:31pm

My second choice for COY is Mangini. He's not been afraid to take good risks, like that surprise onside kick against the Bears.

Talent and luck are the big variables in the NFL, but if Payton and Mangini stick around for a few more years I could see them cleaning the floor with most other coaches and inspiring a kind of revolution in NFL thinking the way Moneyball did (it did, didn't it?).

53
by Abarine (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:39pm

Incidentally, Ryan Pontbriand on the Browns is one of the best long snappers in the league; he was drafted in the fifth round, and he's never had a bad snap. The fact that Cleveland drafted a longsnapper in the fifth round says an awful lot about what's wrong with that team, though, doesn't it?

54
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:43pm

Wait, you watched a Seattle game and Ryan Plackemeier doesn't get the nod for punter?! :rimshot:

55
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 7:01pm

Not even a mention of Brian Dawkins in the saftey discussion???

55
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 7:01pm

Not even a mention of Brian Dawkins in the saftey discussion???

57
by Jersey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 7:29pm

Not even a mention of Brian Dawkins in the saftey discussion???

no seriously... why not? The guy is a force out there and like Taylor he is playing exceptionally well for someone his age and really lifts up the surrounding defense. When the Eagles defense was collapsing mid-season Dawkins stepped up and single handedly made plays to keep the team alive.

58
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 7:46pm

50: Well this should be obvious, but is one big hit supposed to prove he's a stout run defender? It'll be hard to know for sure until the new prospectus provides some game charted data about when he makes his tackles, but SD's defense is not very good against the run, and SD is also 20th in runs to the left end (where he would hang out, as a 3-4 ROLB). Teams also run left more than right against San Diego. These aren't good signs, even if they aren't definitive indicators.

I think Merriman is an excellent football player overall, but it's pretty clear that his best talent is as a pass rusher. His production is clearly weighed in that way; he as 15.5 sacks, a great full season number achieved in 11 games, but 54 tackles, which even pro-rated to 16 games (78) is not exceptional. He also has a very low FF rate for someone who gets that many sacks, and has only one interception. Numbers aren't everything, but they don't really paint the picture of a well-rounded, defensive POY.

59
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 7:55pm

I don't know about Dawkins as a whole this season, but I must say that over-the-shoulder/back interception on Christmas was one of the best catches I've seen in awhile. I can't believe I'm even rooting for Philly to win the division...stupidrespectablecoachingand-frontofficesmarthomerjealousy.

60
by Chris I. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 8:09pm

Chicago's Patrick Mannelly gets my vote for best longsnapper. I've seen every game he's played and I don't ever remember him having a bad snap. He's a Robo-Snapper.

Re: Urlacher -- the guys is just a freak. He's 6-4, 258 lbs., and can cover more ground than anyone that size in NFL history.

It's comical sometimes to watch opponents react to him. You can tell they see him and think to themselves, "He can't get to me because he's too far away, or because he doesn't have the angle." And then -- ZOOM! -- he's right top of them.

And in the couple of years, he seems to be getting meaner on the field, always a plus for a Bears middle linebacker. He's a joy to watch play.

Lance Briggs is really good, too. I hope the Bears can resign him.

61
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 8:30pm

#50:
Yet another play made by Merriman where he comes in completely unblocked.

62
by theory (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 8:30pm

#58, Merriman and Ware:

Merriman is listed as the LOLB. He moves around but usually plays over the TE, so he defends against runs to the right. They're #3 against right end runs, so don't try to run around Merriman. The Chargers rank #18 against right tackle runs, but that's more because LDE Luis Castillo has missed about half the season. His backup, Jacques Cesair, can provide some pass rush doesn't hold up against the run.

The Chargers problems defending the run have been up the middle (#18, once again, losing Castillo really hurts their run D) and left end (#20). Shaun Phillips is usually over there. He's a great pass rusher and seems decent in coverage, but shouldn't be a pro bowler until his run defense improves.

My one criticism of Merriman is that I've seen him try to blow people up and miss the tackle instead of wrapping up. It was particularly evident on Todd Heap's score that sealed the Ravens' win. But, DVOA stats and the fact that teams run against Merriman less say that he's a complete player. People don't want to admit Merriman's that good because of the steroid thing, but unless he's busted again or his play declines, they're making a bad call.

As for Ware's run defense... he plays on the weak side (left end). The Cowboys run D is dead last in DVOA against left end runs and #16 against left tackle runs. I realize he's their only good LB or DE, but those are bad numbers. Ware is definitely a force against the pass, but I can't say from the numbers that he's a complete LB yet (I think he will be though).

63
by Jeff W (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 8:36pm

#58:

Either this year or last, there was a FO article that noted that Merriman's average play was made behind the line of scrimmage--i.e. his average play caused a loss of yardage. No other player in the NFL did that.

Phillips wasn't far behind, IIRC his average play was 1 yard past the line of scrimmage.

Only reason to leave Merriman off is not because he took steroids(honestly, the vast majority of the league probably does--hence why therehas been so little backlash), but because missing 4 games lowered his value over replacement player. Even so, I think he might have been the best OLB anyway.

64
by Robert Z. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 8:54pm

want more merriman? click my name for some crazy highlights from last year. merriman against the run? Who was the guy who knocked Priest Holmes out of commission again?

merriman making plays ALL over the field, and is even better this season.

65
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 9:16pm

"My second choice for COY is Mangini. He’s not been afraid to take good risks, like that surprise onside kick against the Bears."

He's done a great coaching job, but I wouldn't cite that onside kick to open the second half as evidence of taking good risks. The Bears weren't fooled by it - in fact, several Bears on the kickoff return team afterward said they were expecting it. One of the Bears up men had just recently been signed after being released by the Jets, where he played on special teams. He knew from the Jets' alignment that they were planning an onside kick to his side, and he alerted the player next to him, Chris Harris, who easily recovered the kick and obviously set up the Bears in excellent field position.

Considering that the Bears then drove to a field goal to break a scoreless tie in a game they eventually won 10-0, that really was one of the turning points of the game in the Bears' favor. Field position was critical in that defensive struggle, and points were at a premium. Allowing the Bears to take possession rather easily at around the Jets' 45 yard line wasn't a great coaching decision.

66
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 9:55pm

Re: 10
they’ve thrown up some stinkers (last three games).

Last three Saints games
at Dallas 42-17
Washington 16-10
at NY Giants 30-7

Blow out wins of two top 10 DVOA teams, away no less. Real stinkers.

67
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 9:57pm

Re: 24
Wow, I knew that Marcus McNeill was widely considered to be good, but best left tackle in the NFL as a rookie?

The idea that a rookie is "the best left tackle in the NFL" is not just remarkable, it's seriousl unbelievable. Sounds like hyperbole to me. He's had a good season on a good overall offensive line on a good offense on a good team. Taken individually there's no way he is "the best left tackle in the NFL" though.

68
by Another Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 10:02pm

I saw Merriman play in person against the Seahawks last weekend, and he looked pretty damn good to me in across the board - run support, coverage, and pass rushing. It's hard to completely overlook the steroid issue, but that is more of a stupidity issue than a fairness one; he was dumb enough to get caught while many other players are undobutedly also on the juice.

Not even a mention of Josh Brown for best kicker? His success rate is almost identical to Gould, but Gould hasn't hit a FG longer than 50 all year IIRC, and more importantly Brown has already tied the NFL record for game winning kicks in a season, without which the Seahawks would be cellar-dwelling in the abysmal NFC West. Methinks this decision went to the player on the more successful team.

Finally, I'd like to extend thanks to Thalwitzer (#1, #13) for sharing his unprompted racist sentiments with the rest of us. You know, for the holidays.

69
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 10:13pm

I don't think anyone here thinks Merriman is a bad run defender (although nobody has said anything about his pass coverage skills), its evident that he's a tremendous player when he's flying towards the line of scrimmage at the start of the play. But he's still a one trick pony, there are plenty of players in the league who could play his position and do an adequate job replacing him, simply because the what he does isn't that complicated. Adalius Thomas is unique though, I've never heard of a LB who can play DT, DE, CB and S before, and its his versatility which makes the Ravens D so confusing to opposing offenses.

70
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 10:16pm

While I myself would probably pick Payton -- the Saints' turnaround from the Haslett debacle alone would make him COY material -- I want to thank MDS for pointing out the phenomenal job Billick has done this year.

This team was picked no better than third by most, and last (behind Cleveland!) by a lot. In particular, the coach was on so hot of a seat that national commentators were speculating on when Fassel (irony of ironies) would replace him. That 6-10 team last year was a lot like this year's Giants: sloppy, undisciplined, predictable and prone to breakdowns at the worst time.

Well, that's not the case this season. Everyone who said that Billick's "obsession" with Boller was killing the team has to give him credit for nailing him to the bench. This team is certainly not the undisciplined, 20-penalties squad of last year. And everyone who said all the big personalties of the Raven locker room (and that means you, Mike Preston, winner of the Ron Borges writing contest) would run amok with a "lame-duck" coach seriously underestimated what kind of coach this man is.

Brian Billick is good. This is the third time has has taken this team after a losing record and brought it into the playoffs within one year. As good as Fisher has been this year, Tennessee's been down a lot longer than that. Billick deserves to be mentioned in the same class as Cowher, Shanahan and any other coach in the league not named Belichick or Parcells (and Parcells only on the past). Thanks to MDS for giving some props, and making the unconventional choice.

71
by Jimbo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 10:47pm

Ogden has had an outstanding season. Last year was the "decline" and this year was the return to form. Look at Merriman's stats vs. Baltimore -- Ogden made him disappear, the same way he did to Porter and Justin Smith and everyone else who lined up against him this season. Ravens have only allowed 14 sacks this year and a huge part of that is that Ogden has been matched up one-on-one with the DE/OLB on his side of the line, allowing the rest of the protections to build off of that.

72
by blahblahfalcons (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 11:03pm

Deion Sanders said that Adalius Thomas was the best athlete he'd ever played with. That really stuck with me.

73
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 12:45am

I'd probably replace Chad Johnson with Lee Evans, and Alan Faneca with Steve Hutchinson.
I think Matt Lepsis would be my choice for best LT in the NFL, although he's been injured so he wouldn't make the team...
Marvin Harrison and Brian Dawkins could be on here, but not much that I disagree with.

74
by budman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 12:47am

Darren Woodson said something on Mike & Mike in regards to the Pro-Bowl selected safeties this year. Being that DW is up there as an all-time best at that position it stuck with me.
He said the AFC Pro-Bowl safeties were a joke. I am pretty sure he was just referring to Troy as I don't see how he could be lumping Reed into that referrance, but he mentioned how Kerry Rhodes got snubbed.

75
by Jivas (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 2:52am

Not to beat a dead horse, but I clicked on the link to last year's EPC All-Pro Team, and both Ian Scott and Chris Harris made the team. Both were benched this year and in favor of superior players (although I do think that Scott will make for a fine free agent pickup on a team with less D-line depth than the Bears).

I'm not bringing this up to disparage MDS, simply to point out that going against conventional wisdom to identify unheralded players sometimes results in stinkers like Scott and Harris. This year's team seems a lot more conventional, with only Brad Meester, Javon Walker, and Pac-Man Jones really making me raise an eyebrow.

I don't really have a point here, other than that I'd appreciate a separate article telling me which players are underrated by the general football public. Even if it turns out that there are a couple of stinkers on that list.

76
by WolfmanRob (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 2:56am

Supporting 56: How is Brian Dawkins NOT the best Free Safety in the league? No disrespect to Reed and, especially, Adrian Wilson, but (correct me if im wrong)they both play Strong Safety. Though the difference between RB and FB, or LT and RT, might obviously be more extreme, the amazingly versatile impact of Dawkins should earn him a spot. He efectively covers tight ends, running backs and WRs in the complex Jim Johnson Zone Blitzing scheme, and played as the Nickel LB for a bit. He still tackles and delivers the big hit as well as any safety in the league; and his instinct for the big play remains nearly nonpareil, even in a defense that suffered many failures by inexperience, well into the second half of the season. He's padded a couple of interceptions into his stats since returning to a deep-protector role; but his true greatness still lies in his timing, athleticism, and occasionally insane determination as a blitzing safety against offenses that still try and fail to account for his prescence before every snap. I ain't got the sources to support it, but i daresay that if you ask any QB in the NFC, if not in the entire league, which Safety they fear the most, they will say Brian Dawkins.

77
by Malene, cph (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:34am

Pasquarelli's All-Pro team is up on ESPN.com - pretty much the same team, 12 of the same selections and some minor changes - Kevin Williams for Pat W, Merriman for Ware, Gates and Wayne, for Gonzales and Walker, Kampmann for Peppers.

78
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 5:38am

Hm, I wish we had better info on which side Merriman plays on. ESPN lists LOLB, but the Chargers site just says "OLB" (and they specify LE/RE and LCB/RCB). I'm inclined to think they move him around a lot (if for no other reason than to confuse pass protection schemes) so there's probably no use doing what I did with the run defense numbers. Until we have some game charting for this year we won't really know, and even then it might not give us exactly what we're looking for (if he only makes tackles behind the line, does that mean he misses some running lane assignments and doesn't make the tackle at all? That is, the reverse Bulluck?).

Anyway he's probably very good against the run, it's hard to imagine him not being effective at 6'4", 270, fast, and with steroid strength. He's a great player, but I'm disinclined to offer him any congratulations for getting a steroid suspension.

As for the rest of the team, the only ones I really think are questionable are the wide receivers... how does Javon Walker (24th DVOA, 13th DPAR) get in over Marvin Harrison (4th DVOA, 1st DPAR, 200 more yards and 3 more TDs)? Seems to me that's a little too much credit for bad QB, you could easily have included Evans, Glenn, Fitzgerald, or even Roy Williams over him.

I completely agree with Dan (#21) about Chad Johnson, as well... before those two games he was considered to be having a horrible down year, and he's been completely shut down his last 2 appearances. I find this choice very strange.

I'm not thrilled by the Billick choice, as it mostly seems like he's covering up his awful mistakes of the past few years (Boller). In a weak year he would be a good choice, but with the ridiculous Saints turnaround ("few" predicted Superbowl for the Ravens, but I'm not sure ANY thought the Saints were doing anything this year) and the bizarre success of the Jets (which is a joke according to DVOA, but still) I don't think he deserves it. The Ravens are one of the best teams, however, so it's not a bad pick.

79
by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 9:43am

33: Uh-oh, looks like we'll need a separate thread for "irrational Brian Moorman vs Mike Scifres arguments". My contribution: yeah, it's easy to put it inside the 10 in San Diego (or Oakland you raving Shane Lechler fanatics). Now try doing that when it's 20 degrees, gusting, and you had to shovel 2 feet of snow off the sidewalk just to make it out of the house in the morning.

80
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 9:57am

#69, 72 etc.

Couldn't agree more about Thomas. I expect Belichick to make a big play for either he or Briggs in the offseason (Last I heard Thomas was UFA....someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

81
by Patrick (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 11:08am

I'm a big Steelers fan, and I will tell you that Alan Faneca had an off year and is overrated. Look at the Steelers adjusted line yards for mid/guard - they are ranked a mediocre 13th, which pretty much confirm what my eyes tell me.

Javon Walker was a good pick though - he was unstoppable when the Broncos played the Steelers.

82
by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 12:07pm

Brad Meester? He's greatly helped by having the best guard duo in football this season in Naeole and Manuwai. Him going over Kreutz is laughable, as Kreutz has been spectacular.

Faneca is making it purely on name recognition, as he has not had a better year than Kris Dielman, either Jags guard, Logan Mankins, or Randy Thomas. Dielman espescially is desrving, as he's been amazing this season.

I feel like Ovie Mughelli got overlooked at FB, but your picks are fair there.

Ogden had a bad season? Look back a year and you'd be right, but he was back this season, and allowed only three sacks and did a good job vs the run too. If he had LT and Turner behind him, along with the league's best guard to his right, and one of the best blocking FBs, then his team would also be great at running the ball. See the point?

Ed Reed at safety? He's made his fair share of mistakes this season, and although Rolle gets a lot of the blame, he's missed his fair share of coverages. You gotta go with Chris Hope there, who's been fantastic. Notice the drop in Polamalu's play? That's why.

83
by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 12:49pm

Re 38

Thanks for the correction (and for proving my point, as the Jets have an even lower DVOA relative New Orleans. Saying on this website that the Saints wouldn't make the playoffs in the AFC is absurd).

84
by Jim (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 1:10pm

RE:75
The pick of Chris Harris was a bad one, but Ian Scott was great last year, and he wasn't replaced by a superior player this year. He was replaced by a guy with more talent and a longer contract, but a poor work ethic. With Tank's recent legal trouble I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears cut him in the offseason and try to resign Scott.

85
by Led (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 1:40pm

Gould may well be the best kicker, but I don't see how it could be by a comfortable margin. There are several kickers of comparable or better accuracy from the ranges Gould kicked from with comparable or better rates of touchbacks per kickoff (see Wilkins, Lindell, Stover). What distinguishes Gould is a high number of FG attempts inside of 40 yards and a high number of kickoffs, neither of which he deserves credit for. Not saying Gould hasn't had a very good year, just that other kickers are also having comparably good years.

Even Rackers, who's FG% appears weak on the surface, compares favorably to Gould when you look closer. Gould has not attempted a kick over 50 yards. In contrast, six of Rackers nine misses have been over 50. Aside from the 50+ yarders Rackers has been more accurate and has an eye popping 16 TB's in only 65 kickoffs (Gould has 10 in 97). Gould may get the edge because Rackers kicks in the dry, warm air of Arizona, but it's not self-evident.

I might add that FO-whipping boy Mike Nugent has missed exactly one FG since the disastrous opening day game at Tennessee, and that FG was over 50 yards. In the last 14 games he's been lights out with a strong leg on FG's. He wasn't worth the draft pick, of course, and his kickoffs do not compare to the kickers mentioned above. But as a Jets fan I will pretty darn comfortable if a game over the next few weeks comes down to a Nugent FG attempt.

86
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 2:28pm

But as a Jets fan I will pretty darn comfortable if a game over the next few weeks comes down to a Nugent FG attempt.

Provided Ben Graham doesn't fumble the snap first. I assume that's the cause of the Jets' negative FG/XP rating.

87
by TomG (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 2:57pm

There has been no designation of coordinator of the year. I nominate Rex Ryan defensive coordinator of the Ravens. Sure he has impressive talent to work with, but you hear the players every week point out how Ryan's schemes free them up to make those sacks. He has recognized Adalius Thomas' unique talents and taken advantage of them. I've never before seen so many players come in to sack the quarterback completely unblocked.

88
by doktarr (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 3:04pm

Just a look at the EPC all-pro team through the years:

3-time honorees: Peyton Manning, Willie Anderson.

2005-2006 honorees: Lorenzo Neal, Pat Williams.

2004 & 2006 honorees: Julius Peppers, Alan Faneca

2004-2005 honorees: Antonio Gates, Joey Porter

89
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 3:17pm

Supporting 56: How is Brian Dawkins NOT the best Free Safety in the league? No disrespect to Reed and, especially, Adrian Wilson, but (correct me if im wrong)they both play Strong Safety.

Wilson's a SS. Reed's a FS. But Reed isn't having a better year this year than Dawkins is. Through week 8 or so, Dawkins was one of the leaders in yards per pass, and Reed was one of the bottom in the league in yards per pass.

Dawkins has 1 sack, 4 INTs, 5 FF on 90 tackles. Reed has 0 sacks, 5 INTs, and 1 FF on 55 tackles. Dawkins has been all over the place on the field, and has constantly made plays. Reed was a great FS in 2004, but he's not having as good a year as Dawkins is this year.

I really can't agree on Reed vs Dawkins this year. There hasn't been a game this year where Dawkins hasn't made his presence felt. You can't say the same about Reed.

90
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 3:52pm

Pat, you know perfectly well that tackle stats mean very little for defensive backs. Darrent Williams has more tackles than Champ Bailey and all that.

Reed should be booted for allowing some big plays early in the year, not because his tackle numbers are low.

For the record, I would have made my safety tandem the all-underrated team of Chris Hope and Adrian Wilson.

91
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 3:57pm

Re: 87

You picked the wrong Buddy Ryan boy. Rob Ryan out in Oakland deserves to be DCOY. That defense came out of practically nowhere (well, except for around here of course). They're dead last in starting field position, but they're 8th in Drive Success Rate and 17th in pts allowed/game. They've given up 20 or fewer points 9 times and 21 once. All while being saddled with that albatross of an offense.

I'm usually not very fond of guys getting fired after just one year on the job, but if Art Shell gets the axe at the end of the year and they don't give the reigns over to Ryan, Al Davis is even dumber than I think he is (a feat that I don't think is humanly possible).

92
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:24pm

For the most part, I agree with MDS's picks. I saw people attacking the Pro Bowl selections of Adalius Thomas and Robbie Gould in the Pro Bowl thread, but I think both are deserving. I probably would've given coach of the year to Mangini or Payton, however, and a WR position to Reggie Wayne (could also argue for Marvin or several others here) over Chad Johnson.
One thing:

Ware has been great, but he's playing 4-3 OLB here. Not sure how well he'd fit into that role. :)

RE: 1

I'm always suspicious when a racist comes in and attacks a player for merely daring to be white.

RE: 23

It seems like the defensive 7 were based on a 4-3 defense, would you change the picks significantly if they were required to play a 3-4?

You'd pretty much have to, as playing the front 7 in a 3-4 has significant differences in responsibilities than the 4-3. Don't believe me? Ask J-Vilma or DeWayne Robertson.

RE: 36

NO has a higher DVOA than Cincy or Denver, two teams likely to make the AFC wildcards.

Cincinnati isn't likely to make the playoffs, but point taken.

93
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:27pm

Re 88, thanks for letting me know that. I specifically didn't look at my past all-pro teams in choosing this team because I wanted my choices to be based purely on my observations from this season. I'm very, very surprised to learn that Willie Anderson is the only person other than Manning to make it all three years.

94
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:55pm

If you're looking at LTs and RTs separately, then Willie Anderson has pretty much lapped the field at RT. I do like Alex Barron, though. Watch the Rams-Panthers game from this year, if you have a tape of it. He made Julius Peppers disappear.

95
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:55pm

Pat, you know perfectly well that tackle stats mean very little for defensive backs.

I said "on Y tackles" not "and Y tackles", and it was supposed to be in concert with forced fumbles. I think "forced fumbles per tackle" is probably a more sane way to measure forced fumbles (so Dawkins has a bit of an advantage in being asked to make almost twice as many tackles). It also measures participation level in a game in some sense, although obviously if the guys up front do their job, the safety doesn't have a lot to do.

Darrent Williams has more tackles than Champ Bailey and all that.

Safeties aren't exactly corners, though.

the all-underrated team of Chris Hope

Hope and Wilson are both listed as strong safeties.

96
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 5:03pm

Hope has been a free safety for most of his career, and it's not like putting a strong safety at free safety is any less reasonable than putting Ware at linebacker in a 4-3. If you insist that I have one guy listed at SS and one listed at FS, then I'm taking Wilson and Dawkins.

97
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 5:08pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention this before, but I think forced fumbles are too rare to be all that meaningful. Dawkins' forced fumble totals, by year: 1, 0, 1, 6, 1, 2, 5, 0, 2, 4, 5. I don't think he's any better at forcing fumbles this year than he was in 2004, when he forced two. He's just gotten lucky this year.

98
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 5:44pm

Pro Bowl voters looking at games? I thought they just voted for names and/or uniforms - I didn't think level of play had anything to do with it ... why should the NFL be any different than the other sports?

Urlacher's only white on the road. He's navy blue at home. And every now and then he's orange.

Rob Ryan definitely deserves recognition, although I don't think he should be the next Oakland head coach, not as long as Al is there - he's better off running a very good defense than also having to manage the putrefaction that is the Raiders offense. That might lead to a slightly better HC job.

Another Jake, the Seahawks' FG/XP DVOA is significantly worse than the Bears' (-0.5 to 8.8), and Brown has been less accurate than Gould (overall, 30-39, 40-49). In fact, Brown's overall FG% is 23rd in the NFL. Take out his attempts from 50+ and he's still not in the top 10; take out only the misses from 50+ and he doesn't match Gould. (The Bears' kickoff DVOA is much better than Seattle's, but that is more of a team thing than FG/XP.)

Game-winning kicks are nice, yes, but in order to give you the chance to make one, your team has to let the other team stay within 2 points ... Gould isn't less of a kicker because his team has played better.

I don't think, in this case, it's the kicker on the best team; it's a good kicker in a place where it's difficult to kick.

99
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 6:00pm

he’s better off running a very good defense than also having to manage the putrefaction that is the Raiders offense. That might lead to a slightly better HC job.

Good point. I was thinking more from the point of view that Davis would be an idiot for not giving him the HC job. But you're right, from Ryan's point of view he's probably better off being overlooked for another year or so.

100
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 9:47pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention this before, but I think forced fumbles are too rare to be all that meaningful. Dawkins’ forced fumble totals, by year: 1, 0, 1, 6, 1, 2, 5, 0, 2, 4, 5. I don’t think he’s any better at forcing fumbles this year than he was in 2004, when he forced two. He’s just gotten lucky this year.

That "zero" is 2002, when he was injured (less than half a year). The "one" before that is 2000, when he also missed three games.

Other than those years, since 1999 (when Reid/JJ showed up) he's been averaging a ridiculously high level of forced fumbles. Far higher than any other free safety in the league. It's gotten way past the "luck" stage, and if you've ever seen Dawkins tackle, you know why.

Do I think he's gotten a bit lucky this year to get 5? Yeah, sure. But it's the same kind of luck that gets you 11 interceptions rather than 8, and those are the things you give people "All-Pro" years for.

I'm not saying Hope (or even Reed) is having a 'bad' year. But honestly, Dawkins is just having a ridiculously good year. I can point to every game this year and there was a huge momentum-swinging play Dawkins made.

101
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 12:36am

What's racist about making note of a trend which happens to be racially-based?

101
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 12:36am

What's racist about making note of a trend which happens to be racially-based?

103
by Catfish (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 1:52am

Re: 101/102

The statement "Linebacker is a black position because it is an athletic position" is based on the assumption that blacks are more athletic than other races. Racism is "The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others." Athleticism includes speed, agility, strength, reaction time, and other qualities, all of which are certainly abilities. Therefore, IF:
A. racism is the belief that race accounts for differences in ability
AND
B. athleticism is an ability
AND
C. your statement assumes that blacks have superior athletic ability

THEN: your statement is racist

104
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 3:17am

I'd say it's pretty damn racist to say that since a player is white, therefore he really isn't that good and he's way overrated.
That's an outright disgusting, racist thing to say. But I suppose you're proud of being a racist.

105
by SGT Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 1:03pm

Linebacker is a black position because it is an athletic position. QB, P, K aren’t because they’re not. I’m not looking for an argument; these are facts
*************************************
QB isn't an athletic position...therfore it's white. Got it. Bledsoe, you concrete footed WHITE QB, you can play for my team. Because athleticism is irrelevant at your position. You gonna tell me that C is a white position because it's played predominantly by white people?

Racism is supposed to be something of the past.

Ed McAffery was a pretty damn good receiver in today's supposed "Black game" Don Beebe was awfully damn fast "for a white guy."

Steve McNair is a pretty damn good QB...and his mobility isn't near what it used to be. He's a good QB because he has good QB instincts, and throws the ball well. Vince Young looks like he might be a pretty damn good QB too...when he learns to settle down some and throw Smartly (would you say playing smart is a white trait...or a black trait?)

Troy Smith won the Heisman this year, completing 67% of his passes. Is that your typical "White accuracy" or is it because he's black and "athletic?" I recall some guy named Crouch who played QB in an option offense that was fast as hell. Led all QB's in rushing yardage that year he won Heisman. Some other white WR/TE for the Jags that can run fast as hell.

You say you're not looking for argument, just stating facts. Your "facts" are nothing more than RACIST OPINIONS and you need to keep that crap to yourself. Those of us that read FO (generally speaking) don't care what color someone is...we just want to see people play well. We look for REAL facts. Facts are numbers. There is NO number, NO formula that you can come up with that will actually point out and say that if someone is black or white that they WILL be better at a position than another guy. You can state that, historically speaking, there have been better white qbs or better black wrs...but that doesn't give one race any advantage over another. Otherwise, Urlacher is clearly playing out of position...as is McNair, and Young.

Been in the military 9 years and have seen white guys absolutely blow up the 2 mile run, pushups and sit up events while black guys where huffin and puffing their way through (sometimes failing it.) It has nothing to do with their race. It's HARD WORK or NO WORK that got them to where they are at.

Historically speaking, (paricularly recent history) Blacks have performed better (overall) at the "more athletic" positions of football...but what is the real root cause of that? You can't give me an actualy FACTUAL answer because any answer that is given will be based on an opinion derived around facts that you choose to ignore and/or exploit. That is totally against what FO is about. Otherwise, my horrible Cleveland Browns have a GREAT passing defense! Nevermind that it's because teams can run all over us so they choose not to throw. Or that they probably aren't throwing it much because teams we play against us are usually winning late in the game...and throwing the ball stops the clock (i.e. bad idea if you are trying to hold onto that lead.) We're still a GREAT pass defense team!

106
by OMO (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 2:14pm

Brian Billick over Sean Payton? Ouch.

I'm with Peter on this one...

He made a 3-year mistake with Boller...finally got his head out of his arse and now gets the recognition...

Sorry...I think this is the shaft of the year on this site.

107
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 3:52pm

10: I guess you forgot about the Eagles game, as well as the dominations over Dallas and New York.

BTW, you guys don't know how hard it is for me not to say something to Thalwitzer regarding his racist tirades, but I respect this site and would prefer to remain on-topic as much as possible. Plus, I visit enough sites where I see this sort of nonsense on a daily basis, and I would hate for FO to become a place that I'd have to blame for giving me hypertension.

108
by RichConley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/01/2007 - 4:56pm

Jesus. You people are missing the forest for the trees here with all this racism crap.

Theres a reason theres more black proffessional athletes than white ones: black people on average are stronger, and run faster than white people. Its not racism. Its the truth, and its scientifically backed up. Theyre, on average, more suited for it. Its no different than white people being taller than asian people on average...its a trait.

Now, that doesnt mean there can't be great white athletes, but in football, for a lot of positions, black players on average start out with an advantage.

Thinking theres no physical differences between the races is ignorant and naive.

109
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 01/01/2007 - 8:50pm

What a bunch of wholesale garbage -- you would think this was 1937 Germany instead of 2007 America.

Skin color has nothing to do with athletic ability -- any claim that such nonsense is "scientifically backed up" is a gross and ignorant misreading of statistical analysis. There is no valid evidence anywhere that athletic ability -- not to be confused with the results of performance -- is based on anything other than the training of genetic disposition, which is totally a matter of permutations on such a scale that it could only be described as chance.

To pretend anything else is beneath discussion.

110
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 12:08pm

Tom Kelso, dont make me start posting links to medical journals.

It is a proven fact that on average, black males produce more muscle mass than white males. Its called evolution. Spend a couple hundred thousand years in an environment that rewards physical prowess, and then in a lot of cases, a couple hundred years being bred for size (during slavery), and you get bigger stronger people.

Explain why, if theres no genetic advantage, the vast majority of professional football players are black.

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the "black people train harder than white people" bullshit that your slinging.