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21 Feb 2006

2005 Football Outsiders Awards, Part I

comments by Aaron Schatz

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who voted on the awards this season. Thanks to our increased exposure, this year's awards had two-and-a-half times as many votes as last year's awards -- even after we tossed out the ballots that were clearly duplicates caused by the technical problem with apostrophes. (Sorry about that, by the way.)

You'll find Part II of this year's awards here.

Who is your choice as Offensive MVP for 2005? (Last year's winner: Peyton Manning)


34.1% Steve Smith
13.3% Tom Brady
13.0% Tiki Barber
12.4% Shaun Alexander
8.1% Walter Jones
7.0% Peyton Manning
6.2% Larry Johnson
5.9% Carson Palmer

I had a feeling that the Football Outsiders readers would disagree with the official vote that had Shaun Alexander as MVP, but I don't think I expected Steve Smith to get nearly three times as many votes as anyone else. I guess this is what happens when you finish first in every single wide receiver statistic (DPAR, DVOA, yards, TDs) on a team with no other offensive weapons.

Who is your choice as Defensive MVP for 2005? (Last year's winner: Ed Reed)


34.5% Troy Polamalu
25.7% Brian Urlacher
11.7% Lofa Tatupu
6.1% Al Wilson
4.8% Dwight Freeney
4.7% Ronde Barber
4.2% Antonio Pierce
3.5% Julius Pepers
2.8% Shawne Merriman
1.8% Zach Thomas

I'll admit that it was tough to whittle down this list of nominees, and I deliberately did not list more than one player from any team so that there wouldn't be any vote-splitting. For the second straight year, a safety wins this award. So much for the idea that safety is not as important as other defensive positions.

Who is your choice as NFL Rookie of the Year for 2005? (Last year's winner: Ben Roethlisberger)


50.7% Lofa Tatupu
20.7% Shawne Merriman
8.4% Cadillac Williams
8.2% Heath Miller
3.6% Odell Thurman
8.4% (seven other candidates)

I listed 12 different candidates for this award because we kept thinking of rookies who had very good seasons in 2005 ... and then none of those guys got more than a handful of votes, so I ended up listing them all together at the end. Merriman won the official Rookie of the Year award because he made big plays in big games on national television, but Tatupu was steadier throughout the year and played a larger role in improving his team's defense compared to 2004.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2005? (open question, two votes per ballot, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Alan Faneca)


42.4% Walter Jones (LT, SEA)
10.9% Steve Hutchinson (LG, SEA)
7.2% Alan Faneca (LG, PIT)
6.2% Willie Roaf (LT, KC)
4.1% Tom Nalen (C, DEN)
3.1% Levi Jones (LT, CIN)
2.7% Jeff Saturday (C, IND)
2.5% Will Shields (RG, KC)
1.5% Brian Waters (LG, KC)
1.2% Matt Lepsis (LT, DEN)
1.1% Willie Anderson (RT, CIN)
1.1% Mike Wahle (LG, CAR)

I guess when we include an offensive lineman on the list of MVP candidates, that guy is going to win the balloting for best offensive lineman, but I don't think this result would have been different even if Jones had not been listed as an MVP candidate as well.  Jones was fourth last year, but this year's number two lineman -- also from the Seahawks -- didn't make last year's top dozen. Mike Wahle drops from second into a tie for 11th. Other players who drop in this year's balloting include three linemen who were injured much of the year: Hank Fraley, Kevin Mawae, and Matt Light.

These open-ballot questions always lead to some very strange responses, of course. Two people voted for "Chad Hutchinson." We also got votes for two other quarterbacks and some guy named "Himes Ward."

Who is your choice for NFL Coach of the Year in 2005? (Last year's winner: Bill Belichick)


42.6% Lovie Smith
17.0% Marvin Lewis
13.9% Tony Dungy
8.5% Bill Belichick
6.7% Joe Gibbs
5.2% Mike Holmgren
4.5% Mike Shanahan
1.6% Tom Coughlin

Hey, it's our first year without Bill Belichick winning this award! Striking a blow for minority hiring, the top three coaches are all African-American. You just wait until Art Shell guides the Raiders to a surprise division title next year. (OK, I'm kidding. Shell is good but not that good.)

I should note that this award was specifically supposed to be for regular season performance, not postseason performance. This is why I did not include Bill Cowher among the nominees. Remember, the Steelers just barely slipped into the playoffs before they went on their amazing postseason run. Going from 15-1 to 11-5 is not the stuff of (regular season) Coach of the Year. The playoffs, well, that's a totally different story, but the awards balloting was over long before the Super Bowl.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Wood Award for 2005 (player who most hurt his team)? (Last year's winner: Ricky Williams)


35.0% Jamal Lewis
13.8% Fred Smoot and his boat rentals
10.7% Kerry Collins
9.6% Pac-Man Jones
9.4% Alex Smith (SF)
9.1% Duane Starks
6.7% Charles Rogers
5.7% "False start, Luke Petitgout, 5 yards"

Yes, I screwed up and left Terrell Owens off of this list. He probably would have won hands down. I cannot believe that Baltimore is thinking about franchising Jamal Lewis. Hello, Owings Mills Police? I think your town may have been invaded by zombies from the Planet of Bad Football Decisions.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Game Film Award for the worst coach of 2005? (Last year's winner: Mike Martz)


36.5% Norv Turner
22.0% Dom Capers
16.1% Dennis Green
13.5% Brian Billick
10.3% Mike Mularkey
1.6% Joe Vitt

This is the second time in three years that Oakland's head coach has won this award. I've been pushing Art Shell as a head coaching candidate since FO came online three years ago. Come on, Art, prove me right, and coach those boys up. Dennis Green, meanwhile, finishes third for the second straight year. Next year, after Arizona goes 6-10, he will finish third for the third straight year.

Who is your choice for the Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive(s) of the Year? (New award)


31.8% Randy Mueller/Nick Saban, MIA
31.8% Tim Ruskell, SEA
16.8% Bill Polian, IND
11.2% Jerry Angelo, CHI
8.5% Ernie Accorsi, NYG
0.0% Pat Bowlan/Mike Shanahan, DEN

I'm not sure which is more odd, that there was an exact tie for the winner of this award or that not a single ballot voted for the two men who somehow turned a bunch of Cleveland castoffs into an actual NFL-quality defensive line. I wasn't sure who to list when a head coach has full power over a team, which is why you have two names each for Denver and Miami -- Saban and Shanahan aren't really executives, per se. Mueller and Saban of course turned the Dolphins back around to 9-7. Ruskell rebuilt the Seattle front seven with budget free agent signings and two rookie linebackers. I voted for Accorsi, actually -- I don't remember another time when an executive went into the off-season with three huge, glaring holes in his lineup and signed the top free agent at each position: WR Plaxico Burress, MLB Antonio Pierce, and RT Kareem MacKenzie.

For those wondering, Art Rooney Jr. was in charge of the Steelers when they had that string in the mid-70's where they drafted multiple Hall of Famers year after year.

The most overrated offensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Michael Vick)


20.0% Michael Vick
9.9% Shaun Alexander
9.4% Brett Favre
9.0% Peyton Manning
6.5% Eli Manning
4.4% Randy Moss
4.1% Jerome Bettis
3.9% Tom Brady
3.9% Terrell Owens
2.6% Jeremy Shockey
2.0% Jamal Lewis
1.7% DeShaun Foster

Yep, we may just have to name this the Ron Mexico Award until Vick learns how to be a fundamentally sound NFL quarterback. A lot of FO readers also believe that the Seattle linemen should get more credit and that we are sick of hearing about Brett Favre. One person who voted for Tom Brady pointed out that he "also kills puppies." There were four votes for different variations on "any Denver running back." Maybe the most interesting player to receive a single vote: Matt Schaub.

The most overrated defensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Ray Lewis)


29.4% Ray Lewis
11.9% Champ Bailey
9.6% Dwight Freeney
6.6% Brian Urlacher
5.0% Tedy Bruschi
2.5% Warren Sapp
3.5% Troy Polamalu
3.2% Roy Williams
2.5% John Lynch
2.0% LaVar Arrington
1.6% Ty Law
1.6% Joey Porter

Lewis and Bailey finished one-two in this category last year as well. Lewis, Freeney, Urlacher, and Sapp have finished in the top six for this category all three years. One voter was sure to note that he was voting specifically for the "post-stroke" Tedy Bruschi. One voter referred to Dwight "One-Move" Freeney. Yes, but that one move is really, really good. There was a vote for Alex Smith, which is odd because a) it did not specify which Alex Smith, and b) both Alex Smiths play on offense.

The most underrated offensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Deion Branch)


6.9% Matt Hasselbeck
4.5% Hines Ward
4.3% Tiki Barber
4.0% Ben Roethlisberger
3.6% Deion Branch
3.0% Larry Johnson
3.0% Thomas Jones
2.4% Warrick Dunn
2.2% Anquan Boldin
2.2% Walter Jones
1.8% Mack Strong
1.6% Levi Jones

This is always an interesting category with a lot of candidates. We received votes for 125 players, not counting the people who threw their votes away with comments like "all fullbacks." If you think fullbacks are so underrated, why can't you name one? Matt Hasselbeck deserves to be considered one of the game's best quarterbacks at this point. Hines Ward has been one of the league's top receivers for years and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, we'll all sit around and talk about how strange it was that he never got mentioned in the same sentence as Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison. I love Walter Jones, but I wouldn't exactly call him "underrated" -- conventional wisdom basically agrees that he's the top lineman in the game at this point.

The most underrated defensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Tedy Bruschi)


6.9% Casey Hampton (DT, PIT)
2.9% Mike Vrabel (LB, NE)
2.7% Al Wilson (LB, DEN)
2.7% Al Harris (CB, GB)
2.5% Ronde Barber (CB, TB)
2.5% Mike Peterson (LB, JAC)
2.5% Aaron Smith (DE, PIT)
2.5% Adrian Wilson (S, ARI)
2.3% Richard Seymour (DE, NE)
2.1% Antonio Pierce (CB, NYG)
2.1% Lofa Tatupu (LB, SEA)
2.1% Jamal Williams (DT, SD)

Nosetackles, oh ye of few accolades and even fewer statistics. This voting was even more spread out than the voting for more underrated offensive player, with 144 different players getting votes. Do you notice that there are no Chicago Bears in the top dozen? That's because nearly every player who took the field for Chicago this year got a few votes, with no one Bears defender getting more than a handful. Alex Brown was highest among the Bears, but Nathan Vasher, Lance Briggs, Ian Scott, and Tommie Harris all received at least one percent of the votes. Other interesting names with a handful of votes: Minnesota DT Pat Williams, Cleveland CB Leigh Bodden, and LB Keith "I'm the entire Tennessee Defense" Bulluck.

The most overrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (New award)


35.6% Mike Vanderjagt
20.5% Dante Hall
7.7% Adam Vinatieri
5.9% Antwaan Randle El
3.7% Larry Izzo
3.2% Todd Sauerbrun
1.9% Jason Elam
1.9% Sebastian Janikowski
1.3% Chris Gardocki
1.3% Neil Rackers

Yes, the first winner of this award was going to be pretty obvious, and the first player to finish second is only slightly less obvious. People were promoting Dante Hall as an MVP candidate a couple years ago. What the hell were they thinking?

The most underrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: David Akers)


4.2% Antwaan Randle El (PR, PIT)
3.9% Terrence McGee (KR, BUF)
3.0% Sean Morey (coverage, PIT)
2.7% Chris Gardocki (punter, PIT)
2.4% Josh Miller (punter, NE)
2.1% Adrian Peterson (coverage, CHI)
1.8% Jay Feely (K, NYG)
1.8% Chidi Iwuoma (coverage, PIT)
1.8% Robert Mathis (coverage, IND)
1.8% Neil Rackers (K, ARI)

I can't tell if Pittsburgh just has really underrated special teams or only Pittsburgh fans voted in this category. We've got four Steelers here, plus one recent ex-Steeler (Miller) and Andre Frazier just missed the top ten. Also just below the top ten, votes for three players who were part of a major influx of punting talent in 2005: Donnie Jones of Miami, Michael Koenen of Atlanta, and Ben Graham of the New York Jets.

2005's biggest disappointment in fantasy football was: (Last year's winner: Clinton Portis)


50.5% Daunte Culpepper
17.8% Kevin Jones
10.8% Randy Moss
7.9% Jamal Lewis
5.2% Willis McGahee
3.8% Michael Clayton
1.7% Nate Burleson
2.3% (three other candidates)

I deliberately tried to stay away from players who were disappointments solely because they missed time due to injuries or hissyfits -- thus, no Terrell Owens -- but Culpepper of course tanked a ton of fantasy teams and then didn't even stick around to earn some of his value back. I feel like I could pick all 12 teams to make the playoffs next year and people will still bug me about Kevin Jones. (Jones' comparables since 1978 don't hold much promise for a comeback, either.) Randy Moss wasn't exactly Randy Moss anymore and it turns out Nate Burleson isn't Randy Moss either. The question of what happened to Michael Clayton is, to me, the biggest mystery of 2005. Maybe that's what I should do in Indianapolis this weekend: ask everyone I meet -- coach, scout, or media -- what they think happened to Michael Clayton. At least his comparables are more optimistic than Jones' (except this guy).

Player most likely to breakout in 2006 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Kellen Winslow -- apparently, people thought the question was "most likely to break a leg in 2005.")


6.4% Ronnie Brown
5.2% Kevin Jones
4.1% Larry Johnson
3.3% Reggie Bush
3.1% Braylon Edwards
3.1% Charlie Frye
3.1% David Carr
3.1% Rex Grossman
2.3% Eli Manning
2.3% Heath Miller
2.3% Roy Williams (DET)
2.3% Ben Watson

Of course, that top guy looks like an even better breakout prospect after the events of the past few days -- the only thing higher than Ricky Williams right now are the fantasy football expectations for Ronnie Brown. I am blown away that so many people think our bete noire, Jones, is actually going to get his act together in 2006. Expectations are high in Cleveland. Ben Watson finishes 12th for the second straight year -- of course, last year he had was coming off a rookie year that consisted of two receptions and a catastrophic injury.

By the way, what counts as "breakout" for Larry Johnson, breaking the all-time rushing record? 

Interesting names lower down in the voting: TMQ favorite Ernest Wilford, Carolina receiver Drew Carter, and Carolina running back Eric Shelton (who missed this year with a foot injury). Almost no votes for defensive players this year. Last year, whoever voted for Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs and New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork can pat themselves on the back.

Next year, I'm going to have to specify that this question is for players already in the league, not incoming rookies like Bush. (LenDale White almost made the list also.)

Player most likely to significantly decline in 2006 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Curtis Martin)


16.1% Shaun Alexander
15.9% Tiki Barber
10.8% Edgerrin James
4.7% Steve Smith
2.8% Trent Green
2.8% Larry Johnson
2.8% Larry Johnson
2.4% Mark Brunell
2.4% Peyton Manning
2.2% Drew Bledsoe
2.2% Priest Holmes
2.0% Santana Moss

Yep, this one is pretty obvious. You don't set the NFL record for touchdowns two straight years, and when you set a career high in yardage at age 30, you don't improve at age 31. If you don't believe me on that second one, ask Corey Dillon and Curtis Martin. That's not just a warning for Barber, but also Warrick Dunn. I don't get the votes for Larry Johnson at all unless people think they're going to work him so hard that he breaks down before the season even ends.

These next two go together. See if you can figure out what doesn't make sense.

Which of the following teams is most likely next year's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's choice: Cincinnati)


24.3% Cleveland
14.0% St. Louis
13.1% Arizona
9.9% Baltimore
8.8% Detroit
7.2% Buffalo
6.8% New York Jets
6.0% Tennessee
4.7% Green Bay
2.8% Houston
1.3% San Francisco
0.9% New Orleans

Which playoff team is most likely to decline in 2006? (Last year's choice: Green Bay)


27.9% Chicago
11.8% Indianapolis
10.6% New York Giants
10.6% Washington
8.4% Jacksonville
5.4% New England
5.2% Tampa Bay
5.1% Carolina
4.9% Denver
4.4% Seattle
3.3% Cincinnati
2.3% Pittsburgh

Why doesn't this make sense? Because if Cleveland is the breakout team of 2006, Cincinnati and/or Pittsburgh has to decline. They can't all go 11-5, right? In other news, apparently people think Lovie Smith was the coach of the year, but not the coach of every year.

The 2005 Football Outsiders Awards are continued here.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 Feb 2006

168 comments, Last at 24 Mar 2006, 7:39pm by cinfan

Comments

1
by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:15pm

I've always wanted to see a category "Player whose fantasy value most exceeded his actual value." I'm guessing Shaun Alexander would probably do well in this one, as a lot of his TDs came from short drives this past year, and it's inconceivable that he could have had a higher fantasy value. Who else?

2
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:17pm

Cincinnati is the second least likely playoff team to decline, really?

3
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:21pm

They can’t all go 11-5, right?

Apparently FO readers think Baltimore will really, really truly suck.

Hey, and that's not really that crazy.

4
by Russ (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:22pm

Huh. I'm not sure why Cleveland is more likely to break out than the other teams listed, unless they're about to have a massively successful run of free agent signings and a perfect draft.

5
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:26pm

Well, they've certainly got the money for it.

6
by Mikey (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:30pm

Ouch. The Super Bowl winning coach gets snubbed by FO voters. Doubly harsh given that we know the FO boards to be crawling with Steeler faithful.

Although Cowher got blanked I suspect that if FO polled for top OC and DC, Whiz and Lebeau would have ranked very high and might have taken both categories.

7
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:39pm

On average, 50% of the teams that made the playoffs one year do not make them in the next. So, which 6 teams are likely to be replaced and by whom?

I would agree that Chicago is one the most likely teams not to make it next season and that Minnesota would be the team most likely to replace them.

Number two on the list would be Jacksonville, replaced most likely by Miami.

Number three would be Washington (can't see Brunell doing it again in 2006) replaced by Dallas.

Number four, Tampa Bay, replaced by Atlanta (Vick seems to be an every other year player).

8
by Mikey (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:39pm

I love that somebody voted for Neil Rackers as the most overrated special teams player in football.

40 of 42, including perfect from inside 40 yards, for a team that absolutely nobody pays any attention to.

O-ver-RA-ted!!!

Do these voters expect Rackers to make more field goals than he attempts? How about if he kicks them backwards facing the other endzone? Man, tough group.

9
by admin :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:42pm

Re: 6, whoops, I was supposed to explain that. An explanation is now added as to why Cowher was not even among the nominees for Coach of the Year.

That OC/DC idea is a good one for next year though. I'm writing that down.

10
by Sonny Chiba (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:42pm

I think the choice of Cleveland is based on them being least of all evils. As I look at that list, no other team fills me with any hope or expectation. I think most voters said, "I think Crennel can coach, so that gives the Browns a leg up on the rest."

11
by Al (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:43pm

8: It was the backlash from Rackers finishing second in Fox's sexiest player voting.

12
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:46pm

This underrated / overrated business is tough to judge, considering that it depends on who you ask. For instance...

Hines Ward has been one of the league’s top receivers for years and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, we’ll all sit around and talk about how strange it was that he never got mentioned in the same sentence as Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison.

... the fact that Aaron made this statement, and that many NFL fans agree with it, suggests to me that Ward is one of the more overrated players in the NFL. True, there are some casual NFL fans who before the Super Bowl were barely aware of Ward, and in that sense he was underrated in a way. But there have been so many people who for years have been wrongly suggesting that Ward is one of the very best WRs in the game and now a future Hall of Famer (not merely good, but great), that I could never call him underrated.

13
by Sonny Chiba (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:57pm

Has FO ever thought of doing a piece on NFL coaches that analyzes their performance in light of the position they played (if they did play in the NFL)? I've heard it said that catchers often make good baseball managers. Can we say the same about NFL head coaches and coordinators?

14
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:58pm

I think the criticism of Rackers is based on the idea that it's easier to kick in Arizona (is this because of elevation, I forget...I remember I got schooled in all things atmospheric last time I brought this up.) That said, I think Rackers disproved the notion that it was just this factor, as I don't think most kickers could have done as well as he did in Arizona last year.

15
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 6:59pm

I love that somebody voted for Neil Rackers as the most overrated special teams player in football.

Personally I feel the WHOLE Special Teams thing is overrated. To me the whole Idea is to win and yet they penalize you anywhere from 39 to 1 yard (depending on the kickoff) if it goes out out bounds. This is stupid. Just put the ball in play where it goes out of bounds like on a punt. But NOOOOOOOOO we are supposed to kick the ball to the other tem fair and square. what the heck kind or rule is that?

And for those of you that do not understand sarcasim that is a breif glimpse of it. :-)

#8 it's not because we feel he is overrated I think that alot of people that voted for him does not know which team he is on (hell I don't, I took the easy way out and voted for Vanderchoke)
anyway don't feel too bad maybe now he along with I belive your favorite team will now get some exposure.

(of course my vote could have followed along favorite teams lines as well if I hand voted for Longwell this year.)

16
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:00pm

You mean San Diego didn't get any votes at all for surprise Super Bowl contender?

17
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:03pm

You mean San Diego didn’t get any votes at all for surprise Super Bowl contender?

why would they they are supposed to be in the "Hunt" each year.

18
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:04pm

Just like all the other 31 teams oops correction let me make that 30 teams. Temas owned by Al Davis are supposed to be the surpise contenders. :-)

19
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:05pm

Assuming that surprise contender means "didn't make the playoffs last year, and didn't go 10-6 and just miss the playoffs" I would probably put together a list that included Philadelphia, Dallas, San Diego and Detroit. (Why Detroit? No reason, really. I picked the Seahawks to go to the Super Bowl two years ago and they went 8-8. I picked Detroit to be a playoff team as their young talent kicked in last year and that didn't work out too well, so I'm hoping I was just off by a year. Come on, Mike Martz, don't let me down...)

20
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:09pm

You know, kudos to FO readers for calling Cincy last year, but if the Browns are a SB contender in '06, I'll eat my hat

21
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:10pm

Yea but as an OC do you REALLY think that Martz will have any pull over "I don't take the blame" Millen?

22
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:19pm

For those wondering, Art Rooney Jr. was in charge of the Steelers when they had that string in the mid-70’s where they drafted multiple Hall of Famers year after year.

Specifically, in charge of personnel for the Steelers. His brother Dan was (and still is) in overall charge and eventually fired Art, Jr.

23
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:19pm

What does Martz need pull over Millen for? There are good players on the roster. MIllen put them there. Martz just needs to get them to play well.

24
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:20pm

...if Cleveland is the breakout team of 2006, Cincinnati and/or Pittsburgh has to decline. They can’t all go 11-5, right?

Actually, they can. They could all go 12-4. Or 13-3. Or 14-2 (each of the three losing one game to each of the other two, and winning every other game). It's not likely, but it's possible.

And here you thought FO message boards were swarming with Steelers homers -- it's actually swarming with AFC North homers.

25
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:27pm

What does Martz need pull over Millen for?

yea Millen picked them up but, and this is a big but, no one for the past three years has been able to make them play. do you really think that Martz will be able to. Personally I think Millen has his next scapegoat ready.

"See, see, I told you so not even a head coach who has won superbowls can get these guys to play. So today we had to relase Mike Martz due his LACK of being able to coach our squad." Matt Millen post season 2006 and why the Detroit Lions did not once again make the playoffs.

26
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:29pm

You know, kudos to FO readers for calling Cincy last year, but if the Browns are a SB contender in ‘06, I’ll eat my hat

I don't think this year (I picked Kansas City) but possibly 2007. I think Coach Crenell needs one more year of tune up to do and find a decent QB and then away we go!!!! So for 2007 would you still eat your hat?

27
by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:30pm

Casey Hampton is the man.

28
by admin :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:42pm

Just so people understand, awards were multiple choice unless listed as "open question." This is why there were no SD votes for surprise Super Bowl contender -- only the teams listed as receiving votes (all with losing records, by the way) were listed as part of the question.

29
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:47pm

good, people are underestimating the redskins next year. As long as Aaron doesn't put sean taylor or santana moss on PFP 2006 next year, it's all good.

30
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:55pm

For the second straight year, a safety wins this award. So much for the idea that safety is not as important as other defensive positions.

Aaron, is that your take, that the notion that safety is a less important defensive position is wrong? Or were Reed and Polamalu wrongly picked by the voters? How valuable can a safety, even a really good one, be? I've wondered about this for years. Do you or any of the other Outsiders have any articles on this matter or any in the offing?

31
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 7:57pm

#29 Don't worry about Sean taylor being on the cover of PFP 2006; he'll be in prison by then.

32
by Craig B (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:05pm

"Why doesn’t this make sense? Because if Cleveland is the breakout team of 2006, Cincinnati and/or Pittsburgh has to decline. They can’t all go 11-5, right? In other news, apparently people think Lovie Smith was the coach of the year, but not the coach of every year."

Aaron, the question was "Who is most likely to decline in 2006?" Just because Cincinnati and Pittsburgh weren't up there for this question doesn't mean they are the first and second least likely teams to decline. Maybe the people voting for Cleveland as surprise Super Bowl contenders just thought another team was more likely to decline than Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. If someone thinks Chicago, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh have 70%, 65%, and 65% chances of declining, they probably voted for Chicago. You can't generalize that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are the two least likely teams to decline by this poll. All you can conclude is that they aren't the best candidates for "most likely to decline."

33
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:17pm

GaryS - you think Philly won't be pushing for a playoff place?

34
by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:26pm

A minor note, but in the Best Offensive Lineman section you mention that Hank Fraley dropped out of the voting along with the "injured" Kevin Mawae and Matt Light. Fraley was also injured for a considerable portion of the season.

35
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:28pm

This is my favorite thing to read, out of all the great content FO puts out. Thanks, Aaron!
I voted for Fred Smoot ahead of Jamal Lewis for KCW. He deserves it. Signed a big money deal, and hurt the team on and off the field. The ultimate bad free agent signing.
I'm guessing I'm one of the only ones that noticed that the Vikings D played better when Smoot was injured.

36
by admin :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:29pm

Right. Duh. Fixed.

37
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:30pm

The most overrated offensive player in the NFL is:

If anyone watched the Pro Bowl, you heard Joe Thiesmann fawn over Ron Mexico, who threw a boneheaded missile way down the field (when he was being taken down). It should've been intercepted by Bailey, but Fitzgerald made an awesome catch. Theismann said something to the effect of "Those are the kind of plays he's learning to make."

Thus displaying the ineptness of two of our award-winners on one play.

38
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:31pm

"But there have been so many people who for years have been wrongly suggesting that Ward is one of the very best WRs in the game and now a future Hall of Famer (not merely good, but great), that I could never call him underrated."

Ummm...what precisely are you talking about??

Here, let me give you the Year by Year DPAR of 2 receivers, one is Ward, one is another that is often talked about as a sure hall of famer, tell me which is Ward and if you have a guess who the other receiver is:

2000: 6 : 37
2001: 4 : 26
2002: 7 : 4
2003: 22 : 6
2004: 10 : 9
2005: 27 : 8

Just wondering why people wrongly talk about Ward being a future HOFer??

39
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:40pm

Pat Bowlan/Mike Shanahan, DEN

It's Bowlen, and I'm surprised Denver's combo got no votes. I voted for Ruskell.

One person who voted for Tom Brady pointed out that he "also kills puppies."

Paging stan. :P

The most underrated defensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year’s winner: Tedy Bruschi)

He goes from winning it to competing for Most Overrated this season. Impressive.

Alex Brown was highest among the Bears, but Nathan Vasher, Lance Briggs, Ian Scott, and Tommie Harris all received at least one percent of the votes.

I almost voted for Chris Harris, even though he missed a few games due to injury. Pretty sure I ended up voting for Pat Williams instead. If I was familiar with Leigh Bodden, I might've voted for him instead.
I'm surprised Sauerbrun and Gardocki got votes for most overrated. Both great punters. Maybe Gardocki got his votes because every damn time he comes onto the field, some emptyheaded announcer repeats the line about his streak.
Also surprised Jerome Mathis didn't get votes for most underrated special teams player. I forgot who I voted for, but I was debating between him and a few kick coverage guys.

40
by PackMan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:40pm

12. Right on man, how can someone who is in the Probowl every year be considered overrated? Ward, even when he doesn't have the best numbers doesnt make it. When guys that do have the numbers dont make it. Hines Ward is becoming the opposite of Emmit Smith, who got so famous for being overrated, I think that he is now underrated.

41
by GaryS (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:44pm

Alan Milnes:
Philly could easily replace Washington in my scenario, but I think all Parcells needs to get Dallas back into the playoffs is a better OL. With Adams healthy, a couple of draft picks and LeCharles Bentley signing could fix that problem, much like the DL was addressed last year.

As for Philly, I think the TO problem wasn't just TO; it sounds to me like TO left plenty of lockeroom problems in his wake. Philly needs a RB to take the pressure off of McNabb; Reid seems to be reluctant to do this. Both OTs may need to be replaced as well.

Besides, I'm a Cowboys' fan.

42
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:46pm

I don’t get the votes for Larry Johnson at all unless people think they’re going to work him so hard that he breaks down before the season even ends.

Maybe they're banking on the fact that the O-line will decline, thus affecting Johnson.

As for playoff team most likely to decline in 2006, I went with Indianapolis. Non-playoff team most likel y to decline is Kansas City.
I think Baltimore has a solid chance to make the playoffs next season.

43
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:51pm

Aaron, could we get exact numbers on how many people voted this year compared to past years? Also, what about the numbers where people indicated which team they rooted for. That'd be very interesting to see.

RE: 2

I agree. They should be much higher than that. I think they will decline.

RE: 3

I disagree. I think Baltimore is almost a lock to improve record-wise.

Ouch. The Super Bowl winning coach gets snubbed by FO voters. Doubly harsh given that we know the FO boards to be crawling with Steeler faithful.

It wasn't based on the playoffs. Plus, as the site has grown, the tremendous influence of Patriot and Steeler fans has shrunk.

44
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:56pm

#30,

Donno, but a really bad safety can set you back a ways. See if you can't get in touch with Ertric Pruitt :)

45
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:57pm

You mean Scottie Vines didn't win for most underrated Special Teams player?!

That was the hardest question for me to answer.

46
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 8:58pm

Looking back... I'm surprised the long snapper from Pittsburgh didn't crack the top 12...

47
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:00pm

RE: 38

is that Randy Moss side by side with Mr. Ketchup?

OR....

Terell Owens?

48
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:04pm

#38
I'm gonna play (without looking!)

Hines Ward's numbers are on the right.
Terrell Owens is on the left.

I wanted to guess Marvin Harrison on the left.

But that's just too obvious, so I'm going to guess that it's Rod Smith on the left...

my final answer, Hines Ward on the right, Rod Smith on the left. Now I'm gonna go check...

49
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:13pm

Here, let me give you the Year by Year DPAR of 2 receivers, one is Ward, one is another that is often talked about as a sure hall of famer, tell me which is Ward and if you have a guess who the other receiver is:

It's Owens. But that's a little harsh - at least two of the years were partial years for Owens, and DPAR is a cumulative stat. It also is notable that Owens is 3 years older than Ward. Which does make you wonder if he's on the decline anyway...

Note that I think that Ward should be a lock for the Hall of Fame, and unless Owens actually miraculously avoids detonating his next team, I don't think Owens has done anything to make it in. Then again, he might be the first HoF player that no one would want on a team of all HoF players.

50
by chad (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:22pm

Cower doesnt get nominated because he went from 15-1 to 11-5? How many of those games did he not have his starting QB? By the way, the Patriots went from 14-2 to 10-6 (the same drop in wins, but in one of the weakest divisions in the league) and Belicheck gets the nod? Something seems a little fishy here.

51
by steelersin06 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:24pm

Re: #8 Cowher for Coach of the Year:

I will call bull&*$% on Aaron's explanation for not including Cowher for Coach of the Year. Here is what he says:

"Remember, the Steelers just barely slipped into the playoffs before they went on their amazing postseason run. Going from 15-1 to 11-5 is not the stuff of (regular season) Coach of the Year."

However an examination of the coaches nominated shows what nonsense this is.

B. Belichick: The Pats went from 14-2 to 10-6, barely winning the weakest division in the AFC over the 9-7 Dolphins. The Pats were racked with injuries all year.

Lovie Smith: Bears went 11-5, on the strength of a great defense and a weak division. Turn around from 5-11 last year, came out of nowhere. A typical coach of the year nominee.

Marvin Lewis: Bengals won the division (on a tiebreaker) for the first time in forever, improved from two straight seasons of 8-8 finishes. Plus they are the Bengals. The Bengals. No surprise that Lewis gets a nomination.

Tony Dungy: No surprise, Colts had a great (although over-hyped) regular season. Certainly deserving, went from 12-4 (and a #3 seed) to 14-2 (#1 seed).

Joe Gibbs: Skins improved from 6-10 to 10-6 and slid into the playoffs. Gibbs is a nice story, and the Skins unexpected improvement sealed his nomination.

Mike Holmgren: Dominated a weak division (and the weaker conference), did a great job, improving from 9-7 to 13-3 and got the Ram monkey off his back. Deserving choice for sure.

Mike Shanahan: Broncos improved from 10-6 to 13-3, jumped from the #6 seed to the #2 seed. No surprise on the nomination.

Tom Coughlin: Giants improved from 6-10 to 11-5, won their division. Big swing in record, made the playoffs, no surprise here.

Now which of those above is not like the others? Obviously B. Belichick. Aaron's rationale for not including Cowher applies just as much to Belichick. All of the others are typical Coach of the Year nominees: (1) coaches of best regular season teams (Dungy, Holmgren, Shanahan) (2) Unexpected turn-arounds, even though there are a couple every year thanks to the parity in the NFL and the schedule (Smith, Gibbs, Coughlin) (3) Great stories (Lewis, maybe Gibbs here too). Without focusing on the merits of these nominations, I certainly was not surprised to see them here.

But why is Belichick in this group and Cowher not? Or why is Belichick in this group at all? My guess is that it is because Belichick is "The Best Coach In The NFL." Or Aaron is operating under some secret criteria for coaching nominations, other than team records. Regardless, Aaron's explanation is not the whole story. It was a correction to the original story, so maybe he just threw up an explanation.

But whatever, I don't think Cowher was regular season Coach of the Year anymore than Belichick was. And any division of this sort is probably going to be messy. But arguing about nominations is fun, especially when 8.5% thought that BB should have been the Coach of the Year! Crazy, absolutely crazy.

52
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:25pm

Packman, what the hell does post #40 mean?

53
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:28pm

RE: 7

I agree that Washington will decline. Same for Tampa Bay. They faced each other first round, and they're both on the way down.

RE: 16

They weren't on the ballot. Neither was Philly.

54
by chad (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:33pm

RE:51

I think Belechick would get votes if they went 6-10....I MEAN, CMON....ITS BILL BELICHICK!!!!

55
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 9:34pm

RE: 48

How could it be TO with those subpar 2004 numbers?

56
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:05pm

#51,

The Patriot' nomination for COY probably comes from the fact that they started off slowly, had injury problems, etc., and then turned it around and made a solid run out of it. It may not be right, but whatever, I can understand it. I have a feeling the real reason you're complaining about it has more to do with the name you posted under than anything :-P

57
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:07pm

RE: 55

Wow, it seems it is TO. That's odd, because he had an amazing year in 2004. Yeah, he missed the last few games because of the Roy Williams horsecollar, but up until that point...

58
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:08pm

RE: 56

Another thing to keep in mind is that BB had won this award the first two times, so it was only right for him to be on the ballot. Besides, if he wasn't, a lot of New England fans on this site would be crying foul.

59
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:16pm

For the record, I tried to vote for Bowlan/Shanahan, DEN, but some weird thing was happening where the radio buttons for that choice were being shared with another category (Coach of the Year?) where I had a stronger opinion than I did for GM/exec.

60
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:40pm

Wow, it seems it is TO. That’s odd, because he had an amazing year in 2004. Yeah, he missed the last few games because of the Roy Williams horsecollar, but up until that point…

Well, it's rank, not value, and a lot of receivers had good years in 2004. If Owens had had that year in 2005, he would've been 4th. Prorating to 16 games, he would've been 6th. 10th ranked WR isn't exactly subpar - it's in fact 6 over par, ignoring multiple receivers/team. :)

61
by steelersin06 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:49pm

Re 56 & 58:

So you both agree with me that Aaron's "reasoning" for including Belichick instead of Cowher is nonsensical?

Sure, I only posted because I am a Steelers fan, but I don't see how that impeaches anything I said. Does it?

I certainly don't think there is anything said (injuries, etc) in #56 that does not apply to Cowher's Steelers this year. Remember, at no point did anyone really think that the Pats were going to miss the playoffs because of their weak division. However, the Steelers at 7-5 were all but written off. Then the Steelers ran off four in a row, which just happens to be the same number of games the Pats won in a row before losing the season finale.

I also don't think either #56 or #58 really disputes that Belichick got the nod because he is The BEST COACH IN THE NFL!!!, Right? I mean #58 justifies it by saying that BB has won the previous two years. Andy Reid had a great run the prior four years but I don't see a nomination for him.

Forget Aaron's nomination (and the nonsensical reasoning for including BB but not Cowher) for a minute, 8.5% of voters thought that BB was the Coach of the Year! I cannot see how that is even defensible. If you were basing "Coach of the Year" off the regular season that if 8.5% of people said that Cowher should win, they would be crazy also. 8.5%!!! I think this shows how much these types of awards and fans' perceptions of certain players/teams/coaches color their overall judgment. Miami went from 4-12 to 9-7, the Jags went from 9-7 to 12-4! If nominations are tied to team records, and there is certainly a strong correlation between year to year improvement and nominations, then certainly Del Rio and Saben are much more deserving choices than Belichick or Cowher.

62
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 10:53pm

"I’m surprised Sauerbrun and Gardocki got votes for most overrated. Both great punters. Maybe Gardocki got his votes because every damn time he comes onto the field, some emptyheaded announcer repeats the line about his streak."

I'm thinking it's just all of us who've been Bears fans for years who have seen both suck royally in Chicago and then move on and rank among the best punters in the league year after year.

63
by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:04pm

I know for a fact that I at least tried to vote for the Broncos pair.

and for the record, the breakout player of 2006 will be Wes Welker.

64
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:23pm

While the Cowher/Belichick debate rages, consider how unlucky John Gruden is. He's the only division-winning coach not on the list, and this after many picked his team to be last in their division. And he lost his starting QB for the rest of the season after game six.

He wouldn't have been my vote, but to not even be on the list seems tough, even more so than the omission of Cowher. Cowher being left off the list can at least be explained as it is a regular season award and Cowher's team didn't win their division (suggesting there was at least one coach in his own division who had a better regular season)

65
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:33pm

Apparently FO readers think Baltimore will really, really truly suck.

Hey, and that’s not really that crazy.

Except that Baltimore was 4th in the "Surpise Contender" vote.

Honestly, though, I can't see how anyone thinks that Baltimore will be competitive next year. They don't have a QB. They don't have a RB. Their O-line is aging. They have one WR (and a TE). And their defense is wildly overrated. Not just Ray Ray, but just about everyone else on that defense.

They are clearly the worst team in the North, with the Steelers and Bengals being the class, and the Browns looking to be on the rise.

66
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:35pm

Cowher being left off the list can at least be explained as it is a regular season award and Cowher’s team didn’t win their division (suggesting there was at least one coach in his own division who had a better regular season)

Of course, the Steelers and Bengals had the same record.

67
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:47pm

Does anyone else find it funny yet incredibly unsurprising that Antwaan Randle El got 4.2% of the vote for most underrated special teams player and 5.9% for most overrated?

68
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:53pm

I mean #58 justifies it by saying that BB has won the previous two years. Andy Reid had a great run the prior four years but I don’t see a nomination for him.

I'm saying, BB won the first two such awards handed out on this site.

I think this shows how much these types of awards and fans’ perceptions of certain players/teams/coaches color their overall judgment.

Or it shows how many New England fans frequent this site.

RE: 64

Good point.

RE: 65

They have a great defense, and no way in hell are the Browns better than them. I'm not even sure Cincinnati is better than them.

RE: 67

Interesting.

69
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:53pm

Kind've off the topic here... but not exactly...

Where is the discussion on the impending CBA doom!?!?!

We are less than a week away from the NFL Owners and NFLPA going the way of MLB/NHL/NBA and blowing up the league! If there is no deal, free agency is going to be WILD, the Redskins are going to be in Cap H**l (much to the delight of probably 95% of the people here), and there are even rumors that some of the owners will sue. I know we don't have any "real" news from the meetings but is the biggest offseason story.

Does everyone else assume that the negotiations will get another month of an extension and the CBA will get done?

I don't care about Cowher getting put on the coach of the year ballot... maybe if there was a "Coach of the Past 12 years" category... he'd be te only one there, so he could win it by default. I agree that Gruden should've been there... but it's a small batch of potatoes....

70
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:55pm

RE: 67

Even better:

He got 5.9% of the overrated vote, but finished 4th. Meanwhile, he won the underrated vote with 4.2%, due to the dilution of the voting there.
Let me just say that there is no way ARE is even close to being the most underrated special teams player in the NFL.

71
by Stevie (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:56pm

#61 Oh my god do you believe that some people who read this site just voted for their favourite teams coach or players? That is indefensible, shocking, outrageous, 8.5% of them, my god the widespread carnage!

And Aaron your still hearing it about K Jones because we dont have much else to fault in your predictions, they were pretty damn good as I think the TMQ articles showed in comparison to some of the others put out there before the season began

72
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/21/2006 - 11:57pm

Does anyone else remember when FO got overtaken by Steeler fans? Check out all the open voting awards... Steelers are in the top 5 of every category...

Super Bowl week drove me crazy...

73
by Adam T (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:14am

Good lord... Jacksonville at 5th in the most likely to decline? Did anyone else see who they beat to get to 12-4? Didn't anybody watch them stumbling around blindly against a good-but-not-great Patriots team? Stick em' in the AFC West and they'll go 6-10. And seriously, a Bears decline would require the other 3 teams in that division to improve.

Sorry, I'm still just mad the Jaguars made the playoffs and the Chargers didn't. Stupid scheduling.

74
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:31am

Two years ago, in the category of "Most Underrated Special Teams Player," I voted for then-rookie David Tyree. This led to the following comment in the article: "Non-kicker, non-return players who got a few votes include Ike Reese of the Eagles and David Tyree of the Giants. The Giants?"

This year, Tyree was a pro-bowler and thus not even eligible in this category. So: nyah-nyah nyah-nyah nyaahhhh-nyah.

75
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:37am

From the section on the "most underrated offensive player": We received votes for 125 players, not counting the people who threw their votes away with comments like "all fullbacks." If you think fullbacks are so underrated, why can’t you name one?

Because they're underrated!

I voted for "some offensive lineman" in this category. My point was that almost no one, myself included, pays close, consistent attention to the O-line, and there aren't any individual stats for them that we can look at. Therefore, the most underrated offensive player is probably some lineman who doesn't make mistakes and toils anonymously -- perhaps he gets mentioned as "solid" by Scouts Inc., who have little better idea about his value than everyone else.

76
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:20am

In most underrated offensive player, I voted for Billy Volek, and I stand by that.

77
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:35am

Plus, Kevin Jones was such a bad prediction as it turned out, backed by such great data and such logical reasoning. It seemed like a really beautiful move.

I definitely learned that no matter how good you think a player is going to be in FFLs, you shoud never take any player in a large majority of your teams. Like, say, 4 out of 5.

78
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:32am

Pat: Good point, I wasn't really trying to be fair, I was just trying to get Hines' stats next to someone who is known to be one of the best receivers in the game to FO fans and Fantasy Heads alike. That would be TO.

The 10th ranked DPAR in 2004 is good itself; I'm not sure you could pro-rate it for the season. Look at who was starting for the Eagles in weeks 16&17. Busted leg or not TO probably wouldn't have seen the field. The 2005 Number is definitely unfair, but part of being a good receiver is not alienating your coaching staff to the point that they'd rather let you rot than play you.

Okay, let's do mystery date #2. This player was drafted in the same class as Hines. I'll put Ward's DPAR rank on the Left, dreamy Bachelor number 2 on the right. The only hint I can give you is it's not Jammi German.

2000: 37 : 2
2001: 26 : 18
2002: 4 : 22
2003: 6 : 2
2004: 9 : 22
2005: 8 : 24

Again, I don't think Ward is truly underrated. I just don't particularly think it's wrong to discuss him as one of the best receivers in the game as CA had stated.

79
by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:51am

#13: I am submitting a guest column to FO entitled "Bad NFL Coaches: The Legacy of Guys Who Played TE Named Mike" focusing on Tice and Mularkey.

80
by Joe Gibbs (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:28am

Which Hall of Fame coach is the most underrated in football? Either you guy's are ignorant to the history of football or you just refuse to give me credit. I am not a fluke you know. I was actually an offensive coordinator to Don Coryell in San Diego. I have orchestrated some of the most prolific scoring offenses in the history of the NFL. Lest we not forget that I took a quarterback that EVERYONE said was washed up and got to the divisional playoffs.

81
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:37am

RE: 78

I'm going to have to guess Randy Moss on that one. I believe they were in the same class.

82
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:12am

Re 79: Are you forgetting da great Ditka?!?

83
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 5:31am

re: 66
Ronnie Mexico, why are you Ravens-hating? Mason, Clayton and Heap form a pretty dynamic core of receivers, and yeah, some of their O-line is aging, while the youngsters (Pashos, Rimpf, and Terry) are coming on strong.
And their defense is pretty good, seeing as how they had a freakishly unlucky year regarding interceptions (a lot of drops by Reed and C-Mac that they usually make), they were still rated 7th in DVOA. I'll admit Ray Ray is overrated but this team still played good D without the two previous defensive player of the year award winners for much of the year.
And at QB, I'll admit its not bright future at the moment, but seeing as how the market is flooded with RBs this is not a difficult need to meet (along with maybe LenDale White perhaps...).

84
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 6:04am

Re: Kevin Jones

I had Jones in the FO FFL league that I commished. Because it was an FO league, there were more than one owners who were trying to acquire him -- and I refused to trade him -- because we were all convinced he was going to turn it around in the second half. I guess it's hard to imagine that happening in almost any other league.

85
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 7:25am

"Also surprised Jerome Mathis didn’t get votes for most underrated special teams player."

Mathis was all-pro as a rookie, despite not actually being as good a return man as Terence McGee. So, he is the second best (kickoff) return man in football, but as people appear to think he is the best he's still overrated.

"Or it shows how many New England fans frequent this site."

I'm a Texans fan. I also love Kurt Warner, and detest the Pats for Superbowl XXXVI. I voted for Belichick, because I think that to win even a weak division (still not as bad as NFC West or North) with the injuries they had, a first year D-con and no O-con was phenomenal. Cowher had to do without his starting quarterback for a few games. Sure, it made a difference, but I don't think it's even comparable.

86
by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 9:05am

I don't get why Dunn is supposed to decline next year. If any running back is in the perfect position to keep playing at a sustained level, it is Dunn. Last year he had the most carries he ever had (280), and this is the only year he has came close to approaching 300 carries, let alone the dreaded 370. He shares carries with a RB and a RB who is playing QB, and their offense (due to Vick's comments) is probably going to be geared towards a pass-to-set-up-the-run offense instead of the opposite one it has been the past couple of years.

87
by jimmo (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 10:18am

re:39, count mine as a vote for Sauerbrun as most-overrated. For the money he's making and the publicity he gets, he needs to better than a middle of the pack DVOA punter and kickoff guy. He ranked 8th in net punting average this year, not bad but behind Jason Baker of all people, the guy he was traded for. His money and reputation outstrip his production in my opinion.

88
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 11:28am

And we still have yet to receive any explanation for why the Saints fired Mueller.

Oh, wait, they're the Saints.

89
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:24pm

Cowher had to do without his starting quarterback for a few games. Sure, it made a difference, but I don’t think it’s even comparable.

Cowher also had to do without LT Marvel Smith for several games, and most of the first Indy game as he started but left with an injury. Hines Ward missed a game due to injury. All three running backs missed at least one game. Linebackers James Farrior (2 games) and Clark Haggans (3 games) missed games as well. And several important depth/ST guys missed time, too.

So, it wasn't just doing without Ben for several games; there were other injuries as well.

90
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:31pm

The Ravens are a mess. Not firing Billick was one of the more curious moves. Potentially franchising Jamal Lewis may go into the early running for dumbest move of the year.

Their offense will be a trainwreck next year. No matter how good Mason, Heap, and Clayton may be- and I'm not sure that they are really that great- Mason is getting up there in years- they still don't have anyone who can get them the ball consistently.
And the defense just isn't that good. Above average? Sure. But not good enough to carry them into contention, and certainly not good enough to carry them out of last place.

91
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:47pm

#85,

How do you get "O-con" and "D-con" out of Offensive/Defensive Coordinator? Trifling detail, I know, but it's biting at me :)

92
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:53pm

#78: This just cements my belief that DPAR is not a great way (or any better/worse of a way) of measuring receiver quality.

Hines Ward will be in the HOF someday simply because he was an NFL MVP and had a good overall record.

93
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 12:56pm

Potentially franchising Jamal Lewis may go into the early running for dumbest move of the year.

It won't beat out letting Brees go. Keeping a bad player is one thing. Letting a good player (at the one spot where there aren't even a full league's worth of good players) go? That's retarded.

If Brees hits free agency, I can't see him staying in San Diego unless he really likes the area.

Which compared to his alternatives (Detroit?) might not be so crazy.

94
by Dman (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:37pm

Pat, Brees has a torn labrum. It is unlikely that he'll ever start in the NFL again let alone be effective if he does. This is not a minor injury, nor one easily repaired or healed. I can understand SD dumping him. Maybe they know something about his shoulder that you don't?

95
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:42pm

RE: 78

Yea has to be Randy Moss I belive that he was drafted the same year as Mr. Ketchup right?

96
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:44pm

It is unlikely that he’ll ever start in the NFL again let alone be effective if he does.

A torn labrum isn't a rotator cuff injury like Pennington's. There have been QBs who have come back from torn labrums - it was posted elsewhere here (in the extra points 'Just Cut Him' if memory serves).

He's ahead of schedule, and the doctors expect him to make a full recovery. They did not say the same thing about Pennington when he injured his shoulder.

97
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 1:56pm

Maybe they know something about his shoulder that you don’t?

I am pretty sure that the front office knows alot more than we do. why do you think they said yesterdaythat they will not franchise him? I think they know what they ahve and are willing to take the chance on Phillip Rivers as opposed to Paying Drew Brees. But just because he MAY never start in the NFL again. As far as the injury was concerned I thought that it was his non throwing shoulder. I do not think that Detroit iis his only viable option, I think that alot of people overlook the fact that the NO/SA/LA Saints are going to dump brooks hard to anyone who wnats him. they are either no 2 or 3 in the draft so they get thier pick of Leinhart or Young (pressuming that the Texans take Reggie Bush) and they will need a DECENT back up to either of those guys. For Brees this will be an easy assignment becuase no matter how you slice it the NO/SA/LA saints have been in a rebuilding mode for a while and there will be no pressure to win if he goe there, granted it would be a nice surprise if they do go somewhere this year, however until they right that ship and get some decent talent ot protect thier QB and open holes for thier RB and oh yeah get some people that know how to play Defense (Even though i laughed like a little school girl when the Pack bet them 50 something to 3 it was still a very embarssing day for the Saints ownership). And myself and others have also brought up the notion that Miami may go after him instead of Daunte Culpepper. So i think he has a few option just not many, but we will see if the CBA ever gets done and how bad everyone gets hit in the adjusted cap after the new CBA is in place.

RE: 71
I would have if they had done any better so I had to trog through statistics to find who I thought was the best in every category. Sometimes it was a no brainer but sometimes i really had to look at stats.

RE: 69

I do not think that the NFL will let it go that far do not be surprised to hear in the nest week or two that

A.) they have extended the deadline

and

B.) they are bringing outside arbitration to setlle the matter

98
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:13pm

I am pretty sure that the front office knows alot more than we do.

I don't. I think they think Rivers is a starting-quality quarterback, and he's far, far cheaper than keeping Brees.

Franchising Brees would cost almost $10M. Signing him to a long term contract (which they will likely try to do) will likely cost less, but I doubt they'll be able to match offers from other teams.

I don't think this has anything to do with Brees's injury. I think it has everything to do with economics.

99
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:20pm

RE 98
Is that because we here post endless threads about who or what should happen to not only our favorite team but to other teams as well and we actually do CARE about what happens to a team on any given sunday? or is that just you being the High and Mighty Pats fan that you are :-)

100
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:26pm

I stand by my one-move criticism. Eventually O-line coaches are going to realize it and start teaching their OTs that little push move you saw used so effectively against him.

101
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:26pm

GBfL (#99 )--

Pat's an Eagles fan.

His rationality may surprise you, but he is an Eagles fan.

102
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:27pm

I'd be interested in an examination of what types of players tend to be over-rated (and under-rated). Off the top of my head, the over category would have scrambling QBs and risk-taking DBs at the head of the list. Beating a blitz with a scramble for 15 yards seems spectacular while defeating the blitz by hitting a hot read for 15 gets yawns. DBs with INTs get ink, even when they get burned a lot.

Also RBs and LBs with great lines in front of them doing all the real work. DEs who don't play run.

Under-rated? Great positional punters. Centers whose ability to quickly change blocking calls on audibles isn't appreciated. Receivers who draw coverage allowing others to get open. RBs with poor lines who get solid results. Safeties and LBs who can cover.

103
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:38pm

RE: starshatter

OK I will give you that. I just thought he was a Patriots fan. and no his rationality does not surprise me. all football fans can be rational at some point :-)

104
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 2:40pm

I think they think Rivers is a starting-quality quarterback, and he’s far, far cheaper than keeping Brees.

I do not see how he can be. they only had to spend about 4-6 million a year on Brees and for Phillip Rivers I think he gets something like 10 Million this year do not see how that can be chaeper, but if you are talking about the long haul, maybe if they can really get him to spread out his next contact for say like 12 years :-)

105
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:28pm

Er? In order to franchise Brees they would need to spend $10M this year.

Rivers had a 6-year, ~$19M (in guaranteed money) contract. That's ~$3-$4M a year.

Rivers is far, far cheaper than Brees, unless there's some wacko cap thing that causes Rivers's salary cap hit to spike this year.

I doubt they'll keep Brees unless they can keep him for ~$5-6M a year. Which I think another team will beat easily.

106
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:29pm

OK I will give you that.

I certainly hope so. It'd be pretty odd to randomly have my team affiliation be forcibly changed by a person on an Internet message board.

107
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:35pm

Sorry pat i was confusing you with Pats fan :-)

108
by Kevin (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:35pm

Aaron

Always interesting stuff when I read your articles.

That being said...I'm interested to know when you did your reader's poll, especially as respects the MVP vote. I think it was after the Playoffs so I'll say this: If the vote was taken before the playoffs, I don't think Smith ends up the winner. Fans are a fickle bunch, and most only remember the last week or two of media publicity.

109
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:39pm

RE: 105

Whoops!!! I thought they had made the same blunder that SF made this year on a First Round Pick. Sorry. I gues that Marty is smarter than the avergae bear huh?

110
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:44pm

GBfL: Well, Smith was a first overall pick. Rivers was fourth overall. There's a noticeable difference in salary expectations between the two.

111
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:46pm

RE: 84

Well, the "more than one owner" was mostly me. I made several offers. I think you would have done well to accept any of them, considering how Jones did down the stretch. ;)

112
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:49pm

Yea but they Traded Manning for him so i thought they would have paid more than that for him, working out the deal and everything after Eli said defiantly that he would not play for SD.

Hmmmm.....

I thinks Eli may have made a wrong choice!!!

113
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 3:56pm

RE: 87

He's consistently been near the top in punting stats for the last 5 seasons.
Plus, he's a clutch player. Look at what he did in the playoffs.

RE: 89

For most players, it's an accomplishment to play all 16 games. So the fact that the Steelers had players who missed one or two games due to injury was nothing out of the ordinary. The ones that hurt were Smith and Ben missing games. Otherwise, to have RBs miss a game or two is no big deal. How many starting RBs consistently play all 16 games?

RE: 90

I think they're a top 5 defense, and the offense next season won't be as bad as you make it out to be. Could it be much worse than it was this past season?

RE: 108

The poll closed right after the Super Bowl. I think it was put up a week or two before the Super Bowl.

114
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:03pm

Could it be much worse than it was this past season?

Haha, oh, you just wait. That almost sounded like a dare.

115
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:09pm

RE: 114

i have to agree with you I think things could get alot worse or maybe just a little better :-)

116
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:13pm

Beside sid I think I heard through the rumor mill that they are thinking of Franchising Jamal "Too Overated" Lewis for year?

Or is he in trouble again?

and another thing Ray Lewis is not getting any younger so they will soon have to think about trying to get someone to fill his shoes and it looks like for the next couple of years the LB draft will be pretty thin.

117
by sublime33 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:16pm

I can't believe that the Redskins weren't voted the playoff team most likely to decline. Haven't the voters read the salary cap hell they face this offseason?

118
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:31pm

RE: 117

yea they are GOING to have to regress just a little. with that kind of Payroll and nothing in cap room. I just do not see how they can run over the cap for two straight seasons.

119
by Falco (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 4:32pm

(Jones’ comparables since 1978 don’t hold much promise for a comeback, either.)

Aaron, I am curious as to how you arrived at the comparables. (I also think, in the future, when DVOA is calculated for past seasons, we will be able to draw better comparables, and distinguish between raw yardage totals/ypc and consistent performers).

I looked at the names on your links. A-Train fits the year 1 to year 2 ypc drop (though he started lower), but the biggest difference there is age. Thomas was already 24 before he played in an NFL game. Terry Miller was replaced by Joe Cribbs after 2 seasons, and I don't know anything about what happened to him. Brooks drop in YPC was much greater than Jones. Johnson never had an above average ypc to begin with. Mack is probably closer than some of the others. That's not to say that each is not comparable in some respect.

Here are two others that cast hope the other way. Here are the age 23 seasons of two other running backs who I would think would have to at least be on the list of comparables. Both had already rushed for over 1000 yards in a season, and had a high ypc (above 4.5), then dropped over a yard per carry at age 23:

RB1-age 23--15 Games, 637 Ru yds, 3.5 ypc, 3 TD
RB2-age 23--12 Games, 698 Ru yds, 3.7 ypc, 3 TD

RB1 is a new NBC studio personality from the city of Detroit. RB2 is Hall of Famer Franco Harris (who is excluded if we stop at 1978--Terry Miller's rookie year).

For Bettis, it was year 3, he dropped from 4.9 ypc, to 3.2 his 2nd yr (but still had 1000 yds), to the stats very similar to Jones at the same age. For Franco, it was the 2nd yr, after rushing for 1000 yds, 10 tds, and over 5 ypc his rookie year.

Kevin Jones has become so over-rated that he may be under-rated. I got the sense that he was in Mooch's doghouse. I think it could go either way next year with a new staff.

Moving on, maybe people thought the question was for the breakout this year, otherwise I dont know how the top guy in DPAR, and one of this year's leading rushers, can breakout next year. I interpret "breakout" to be more like coming out of nowhere or emerging unexpectedly, such that I did not select the 2nd overall pick, and a RB, to "breakout" in his 2nd season. I expect that given past history of top 5 RB's. I went with another RB who's team can't be worse next year than this, and will probably lean on him, Frank Gore, but he didn't even make the final cut. I think Wilford is another candidate there that the casual fan does not know.

120
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 5:29pm

52. Sorry for the typo. I meant that Ward has been in the probowl every year for the last few years, even when his numbers weren't there. Meaning that people are aware of what he is doing on the field besides his catches, yards, and TDs. And anyone who says he is a lock hall of famer is just kidding themselves. Lets see, hes played 8 years and isnt even 30. The 2 shortest HOF careers I can think of are Barry Sanders and Jim Brown, who each played 9 I believe, and he is not in their league. Deriick Thomas was 8 or 9 too, but he didn't make it.

121
by admin :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 5:37pm

The comparables lists are based on our similarity scores system, two-year harmonic means. The rules are linked although I think I've increased the "penalty" for being a different age/experience since I wrote up these rules. Obviously, caveats: similarity scores only take into account conventional stats, don't consider the context of a player's season, and probably could be tested and improved. That's probably a task that will wait for after the book, however, because improving DVOA, KUBIAK, and the team projection system are all more important issues for the book.

Bettis doesn't come up as a comparable because his Age 22 yds/carry (3.2) is so much different from Jones (4.7). Harris doesn't come up because the similarities only go back to 1978. Eventually I want a normalization system in the similarities which will allow me to include seasons prior to the 1978 liberalization of passing rules, but right now I don't have that.

They're more of a fun toy than a dependable method for analysis, but they do pick out things like Tony Gonzalez's impending decline in 2005.

122
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 6:16pm

Wait, isn't this regular season only? Vanderjagt only shanks them in the post-season.

123
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 6:24pm

I tried voting, but the PC kept on screwing up.

I can't believe people think that Polamalu was that good to be MVP. His numbers are worse than Roy Williams and he's worse in coverage to the point where they have him play linebacker in nickel whereas Williams stays in at safety (and was pretty good this year in coverage). I voted for Strahan as it was a tough year to really come up with a defensive player of the year, but Strahan opened everything up for Umenyiora and the rest of the Giants defense and practically got them to the playoffs along with Tiki Barber.

I also thought Terence Newman was the most underrated defensive player. He shut down anything and everything that came his way. Didn't allow a TD or a pass longer than 23 yards. QB's had a 39 QB rating throwing passes to receivers that were his responsibility.

124
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 6:43pm

RE: 123

I voted for Antonio Pierce. He missed the end of the season, but when he was in there, the run defense was so much better. I wasn't sure about the vote only because he missed games. Had he played the full season, he would've been a no doubter for me.

125
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 8:32pm

Bobman (#122 )--
Vanderjagt only shanks them in the post-season.
Don't you remember the 2004 opener at New England?

Down 27-24, sack on third down to make the figgie over 40 yards, Vanderjagt makes the "money" sign at the Patriot bench, then hoots the attempt.

126
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 9:28pm

According to ESPN.com, the Ravens will not place the franchise tag on Jamal Lewis.

Good move. I had a feeling Ozzie would come through. Jamal would've probably signed it, and he isn't worth it. Maybe they could've traded him for a late pick or something. We'll never know...

Linked in my name

127
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 9:41pm

#125: Fire Mike Vanderjagt!

Sorry, it had to be said.

128
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 10:17pm

#100 Wait a minute...how long has Freeney been in the league? "Eventually" o-line coaches will start teaching counters? They're not already doing that?

I don't have anything beyond anecdotal observation to back this up, but it seemed that Freeney used a bull rush more often this year than in years' prior.

Still, I agree he is overrated.

129
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 02/22/2006 - 10:40pm

#128: OTs on him tend to try to treat him like any other end. I really think they don't even bother trying to plan for him other than just setting up double-teams. The thing is, he's not strong enough to bull rush, and even if he can overpower you, pushing him out, even if he doesn't spin, usually puts him out of the play.

Then again, I don't like the way O-Lines are coached generally. The majority of the offence changes in response to what the defence is doing/will do, whereas O-Lines tend to just have a couple of vanilla schemes with traps and pulls thrown in, but no real specific gameplanning.

130
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 12:44am

re: 129
"O-Lines tend to just have a couple of vanilla schemes with traps and pulls thrown in, but no real specific gameplanning"
Yeah, but after watching Indy's complex O-line blitz pickups schemes against the Steelers in the playoffs, I'd have to say vanilla schemes are probably a better idea. I'll bet Peyton and Tom Moore thought so too after the game.

131
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 12:53am

Actually, Aaron, CLE, CIN and PIT, if they split their games against each other and win all the other games, they can finish with a 14-2 record tie in AFC North first place...

132
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 1:19am

#92: Kal, since you don't like DPAR do you have a better suggestion to quantify receiver performance? Number of Gold Teeth? Biggest Afro? Best Endzone Dance? Traffic Cops Run Down? Longest Hold Out? Loudest Criticism of QB?

PS. Ward was SB MVP not NFL MVP.

PackMan: I don't think that Ward is a lock for the Hall of Fame, I just don't think it's ridiculous to talk about the possibility. I mean did all the talk about Sanders being an HOFer suddenly erupt after he retired? And again, I don't think Ward is underrated, I think many of the other things he does well overshadow his very good receiving skills.

133
by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 11:56am

I don’t think that Ward is a lock for the Hall of Fame, I just don’t think it’s ridiculous to talk about the possibility.

Rowdy, I know you weren't addressing me, but since I began this discussion, I will respond. I don't think it's ridiculous to talk of Ward as a Hall of Famer; it merely shows that he is overrated because his quality of play doesn't merit such a discussion, yet. He may well make the Hall of Fame. Heck, a vastly inferior Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh WR already did. But, unless he gets significantly better or maintains this level of production for a long, long time, he won't deserve it.

I think one of the biggest reasons that Ward is overrated is that people like to contrast him to Moss and Owens in terms of "attitude." A lot of people hate those players, no matter how good they are, so they latch on to a guy who to them represents the opposite. But whether or not Ward has a good attitude, he does not, never has, and probably never will achieve that level of play. A great personality does not a great player make.

134
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 12:00pm

RE 123

Polamalu had more solo AND total tackles than Williams. He had more sacks that Williams. He had 1 fewer INT, and 2 fewer passes defensed. So saying that his numbers werent as good as Williams is just wrong. Not to mention that teams have to game plan for Polamalu, that is what makes him worthy.

135
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 12:38pm

#133: Okay so please explain to me how Moss is a great player based on these numbers and Ward isn't. Ward on the left, Moss on the right (DPAR Rank).

2000: 37 : 2
2001: 26 : 18
2002: 4 : 22
2003: 6 : 2
2004: 9 : 22
2005: 8 : 24

I'm assuming that since you are on this site you think that DVOA and DPAR are a reasonably good way to measure football performance. Maybe I'm wrong on that who knows. For those curious over the 6 years that we have DPAR info here is the cumulative DPAR for 5 receivers:

Harrison - 216.6
Holt - 213.2
Moss - 177.5
TO - 169.7
Ward - 159.6

So there's a larger difference in cumulative DPAR between Torry Holt and Randy Moss and Randy Moss and Hines Ward. Should we quit talking about Moss and Harrison in the same sentence? Maybe we should.

For the record, I think that Harrison and Holt are clearly in a class by themselves when it comes careers as receivers. They actually sell and finish routes, have some rapport with their QBs and truly understand that football is a team sport. Too bad we have to hear about the Randy Ratio and ME. O. around the clock.

Also, would you clarify which Steeler receiver you're talking about, they've got two superbowl winning wide receivers in the Hall.

136
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 1:10pm

#135: I think he's talking about the presumptive Republican candidate for Governor of the Commwealth of Pennsylvania.

Of course, referring to a player who made All-Pro three times in a nine-year career as "vastly inferior" may be considered fightin' words by some Steelers fans.

137
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 1:11pm

Of course, I meant "CommONwealth". Damn flaky laptop keyboard.

138
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 1:50pm

RowdyRoddyPiper

Alot of us here are not saying that Mr. Ketchup will not go into the hall of fame, but as you just poitend out in your last post yes he is a top ten reciever in the league according to DVOA for the past five years, but does that warrant HOF consideration? what about running backs? do you know why with only ten years that Barry Sanders got into the Hall of Fame....
It is because EACH of his Seasons he put up huge numbers over 1,000 yds each season for 10 seasons. that is why he is in the hall of fame. don't get me wrong Rowdy if Mr. Ketchup can keep his Numbers up and with Big Ben throwing the ball that seems a given and if he can stay relatively healthy for the next 4-5 years then he could posibly be considered for the HOF, right now I think that this talk of him being a future HOF'er is just a little premature.

139
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 3:24pm

I would've given Terence Newman some love as "Most Underrated Defensive Player." Didn't get burned on a deep ball all year, shut down TO better than DeAngelo did, and, along with Ken Lucas, was the top-graded corner in the NFC.

140
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 3:25pm

Re: 120
Ward did not make the Pro Bowl this year because his numbers weren't that great. Last year he made it with 80 catches for 1004 yards, but you have to remember that the Steelers were 15-1 and that they only threw the ball 40% of the time. In 2001, 2002, and 2003 he went to the Pro Bowl because he was one of the best receivers in the league with over 90 catches and 1000 yards each season. Plus, his QBs were Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. My overall point is that it is silly to say that Ward is overrated for making the Pro Bowl undeservedly when he didn't make the Pro Bowl this year when his catches and yards declined, and in 3 out 4 of his appearances he was hands down one of the best in the conference while in the 4th year we was still really good but maybe slid by on name recognition.

141
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 5:08pm

***RE 123Polamalu had more solo AND total tackles than Williams.****

Polamalu had 73 solo tackles to Roy's 69. Williams also missed practically the last game and a half of the season due to an ankle sprain on an INT return

***He had more sacks that Williams. He had 1 fewer INT, and 2 fewer passes defensed.****

He had 0.5 sacks more than Roy....yipee.

Passes defensed is an overrated stats, but Roy also forced 2 more fumbles as well.

***So saying that his numbers werent as good as Williams is just wrong.***

They weren't outside of 4 more tackles which Williams should have been easily able to accomplish if he could have played the last game against the Rams.

****Not to mention that teams have to game plan for Polamalu, that is what makes him worthy****

And they don't have to gameplan for Roy Williams?

Roy put up better numbers and is a better cover guy. When the Steelers go to the nickel, they put Polamalu at LB because his deep coverage stinks.

I like Polamalu and he's a great player, but there's no question in my mind that Williams had a better year.

142
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 5:26pm

"do you know why with only ten years that Barry Sanders got into the Hall of Fame…."

GB4L: Yeah, 5 YPC on a less than stellar team will tend to do that for you. Thanks for pointing out that Barry Sanders is an HOFer. I'm sure no one even suggested that he could be in the hall of fame after his 5th or 6th season in the league. That would be cRaZy!@!#!@ How could anyone know what he's going to do over the rest of his career. If Barry Sanders is the standard that you're going to use to measure players for HOF worthyness, it's going to be a very very small hall.

143
by Luz (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 5:38pm

#141

"When the Steelers go to the nickel, they put Polamalu at LB because his deep coverage stinks."

right. polamalu is so terrible at deep coverage and so good at playing linebacker. that explains why he plays safety.

they move him to LB in the nickel because he is versatile enough to rush the QB or to drop back in coverage. a large part of any steelers scheme is what polamalu is doing on that play. moving him to LB is a plus because it allows polamalu to be more versatile and disrupt the offense. they can do it because he is talented enough not to get run over by RBs.

besides, anyone argueing for roy williams vs. polamalu should never bring coverage skills into the debate.

144
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 5:51pm

141. By your logic, Julius Peppers has poor pass rush skills because he drops into coverage in certain passing situations. Polamalu is versatile enough to play near the line of scrimmage thereby possibly confusing the opponent not because he lacks coverage skills. Also, the biggest knock on Roy Williams is his coverage skills.

145
by Jon (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 6:22pm

Re: 10 : Even with your explanation regarding Cowher that list is still a little short sighted. So, you are more impressed with Bill Belichick getting the Patriots to 10-6 in the worst division in football than you are with Cowher leading the Steelers to san 11-5 record? If you are going to include Belichick you may as well include Saban he finished 9-7 in that patheic division and did it with a lot less talent.

146
by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 6:29pm

re 142
I think he was responding to my comment about people saying Ward is a future HOFer after only 8 years. I was pointing out that it takes most players a lot more than that and players like Jim Brown and Barry can get in on less, but he is not in their league.

147
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 7:40pm

RE 142

Listen rowdy I am not saying that Mr. Ketchup won't get into the hall of fame. I am just saying that at this point in his career it is a little premature....
is he an excellent reciever? at his current spot in that system he is excellent and I will probably pick him in my FF league. I will never say that he can't put up numbers, he can and in bunches as well. PIT showed during the superbowl that they might be more inclined now more than ever to throw the football. Big Ben seems a heck of a lot more comfortable now and Mr. Ketchup will probably be the recipetient of many of those passes.

RE 146:
Thank You Packman yes i was responding to you talking about Mr. Ketchup as a Future HOFer after only 8 years.

148
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 12:37am

GB4L: Okay then, we shouldn't talk about people potentially being in the Hall of Fame until they have at least 12 years under their belt, or they're in Barry Sander's league. All discussion of Moss or Holt having potential hall of fame careers should now cease. Sheesh!

149
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 10:31am

RE 141

1) Williams started all 16 games this year.
2) If you want to use stats you have to use them all, not just the ones that support your case.
3) Williams did play in the last game against the Rams, and he had 2 tackles.
4) To answer your question, no. Teams dont have to prepare for Williams the way they have to for Polamalu. Part of that is the system, part of it is his ability, but that is just the way it is.

150
by Rupert (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 10:39am

How does Miami not figure among surprise playoff candidates for 06?

151
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 10:45am

RE: 141

Williams is terrible in coverage. Coverage isn't Polamalu's strength, but he's still a lot better at it than Roy.

152
by rk (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:28am

Re: 150
I think the list included all teams below .500. Miami was 9-7 and I don't think it would be too surprising for them to be contenders for the playoffs since they finished a game behind NE for the division.

153
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:43am

rk: Nah, it was missing 2 teams below .500. At least the list of 12 above is - Philadelphia and Oakland. Were Philly and Oakland on that list, or does no one want to pick them for SB contender next year? Calling Philly a 'surprise' SB contender next year would seem a bit odd (as soon as the season ended, they popped back into almost everyone's top 16), but Oakland would surprise the crap out of me if they were.

154
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 12:15pm

#153

you shouldn't be. art shell has already started transfusing swagger into the organization.

155
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 12:45pm

149. Williams played just a little bit over the 1st quarter against the Rams and then stayed on the sideline. I saw Polamalu get fooled and burned on many more TD's and big gains than I did Roy this year....and I saw every Cowboys game and all but 3 Steelers games.

Roy also had the following:

1. A game winning TD off an INT against Philly.

2. Forced a fumble on 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line against NYG with 4 minutes left to play.

3. Intercepted a Hasslebeck pass with less than 4 minutes to go in a 7-3 game.

4. Down 14-21, Roy forced a fumble against Denver in the 4th quarter which led to a Dallas TD.

5. Up 17-13 and in a must win game, Roy picks off Delhomme in the 4th quarter.

Roy not only had more forced fumbles and INT's, but he was a better coverage guy and he was incredibly clutch this past season.

156
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 1:04pm

Other examples of Roy Williams's clutchness:

1. Down 13-0 with 6 minutes to play, the Redskins throw 39- and 70-yard TD passes to Santana Moss to win 14-13.

2. Down 10-3 with 52 seconds to play, the Giants complete a 28-yard pass to Plaxico Burress and a 24-yard TD pass to a wide open Jeremy Shockey to force overtime.

3. Down 10-3 with 2:01 to play, the Seahawks drive 81 yards in 7 plays, including two 22-yard completions, to tie the game.

4. Tied in overtime, Ron Dayne breaks off a 55-yard run off left end, setting up the game winning FG for the Broncos.

5. Down 31-28 with 10 seconds to play and on their own 42 yard line, the Chiefs complete a 34-yard pass over the middle to set up a tying FG attempt.

157
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 1:31pm

Rich, I'm not sure how closely you were watching those Steelers games. I didn't watch much Cowboys football this year so I can't speak to Williams' abilities.

The Steelers are often playing out of cover-3. Polamalu doesn't have deep responsibility in that case. He covers underneath or blitzes. I didn't see any real catch and runs for big yardage when Troy was covering underneath. If you have a specific example or two, let me know so I can go back and watch. Plus, I still blame almost all breakdowns in Steeler coverage on Chad Scott.

158
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 1:43pm

"Plus, I still blame almost all breakdowns in Steeler coverage on Chad Scott."

hehe. does the blame for the rest fall on dewayne washington?

159
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 3:15pm

****Other examples of Roy Williams’s clutchness:
1. Down 13-0 with 6 minutes to play, the Redskins throw 39- and 70-yard TD passes to Santana Moss to win 14-13.****

Wasn't his responsibility. Roy's coverage was on Cooley underneath in a Cover 4. Aaron Glenn and Parcells both said it Glenn's man on both plays.

***2. Down 10-3 with 52 seconds to play, the Giants complete a 28-yard pass to Plaxico Burress and a 24-yard TD pass to a wide open Jeremy Shockey to force overtime.****

28 yard pass to Burress wasn't his responsibility as he was being covered by Anthony Henry....who plays the opposite side of Burress. The Shockey TD was his fault. Not exactly a lack of coverage ability, but a miscommunication on the coverage call with Bradie James. Still Roy's fault though.

***3. Down 10-3 with 2:01 to play, the Seahawks drive 81 yards in 7 plays, including two 22-yard completions, to tie the game.***

Yeah, and not one of those plays were Roy's responsibilites as those passes were being defended by Anthony Henry (who also allowed a big flag), Aaron Glenn, and Willie Pile. I vividly remember this as one "analyst" tried to claim that Roy was at fault on a pass to Jerramy Stevens the next day. One problem, Willie Pile was covering Stevens on that play. Another problem, Roy was blitzing Hasslebeck on that play.

***4. Tied in overtime, Ron Dayne breaks off a 55-yard run off left end, setting up the game winning FG for the Broncos.***

Yeah, on a play that was ran towards the opposite side of Roy who plays strong safety and Dayne ran to the weakside. Not to mention the refs completely missed a bear hug that was placed on Marcus Spears that allowed for the play to happen.

****5. Down 31-28 with 10 seconds to play and on their own 42 yard line, the Chiefs complete a 34-yard pass over the middle to set up a tying FG attempt.****

Yep, and that man was let go by just about everybody but Roy. Fujita missed the bump on Hall. Keith Davis went to help out Tony Gonzalez instead of sticking to his area of coverage.

If you want to blame Roy for blown coverage assignments, you're best with the NYG game on the Shockey Touchdown and Carolina game where Jake Delhommed fooled Roy on a pumpfake and threw to Drew Carter for a TD instead.

Otherwise your criticisms of Roy are pretty ridiculous.

160
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 3:23pm

157. I watch Steelers games as a bunch of my friends are Steelers fans. I've got a DVR that we use for both games since I've only got one TV at my place, so we'll wind up watching both games.

For Cowboys games, I'll probably watch and analyze the game about 3-4 times the week after the game, take some notes, etc.

For Steelers games, I rarely watch it more than once and don't take any notes or anything.

Off the top of my head (while I'm at work) the games that stick out to me over the past year were last year's AFC Championship game where Brady abused Troy often. Then there was a crucial TD that he gave up to Dallas Clark in the Indy playoff game, and then the TD in the Super Bowl he gave up where he didn't recognize the pick that the Seahawks used against him.

And as a guy that is surrounded by Steelers fans, I completely understand the Chad Scott thing. I laugh everytime this year they would show the Pats "key injuries" and list Chad Scott as one of them.

161
by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 5:37pm

148
We are not saying that Ward cannot make the HOF, we are just saying that he hasn't done enough yet. And the same goes for Moss, TO, and Holt. They are all potential HOFers, but you said that he was a future HOFer. There is a HUGE difference. A lot of NFL players have the potential to be great, but not all of them live up to it.

162
by Jerry (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 8:27pm

Plus, I still blame almost all breakdowns in Steeler coverage on Chad Scott.

hehe. does the blame for the rest fall on dewayne washington?

Harvey Clayton.

163
by Belichick for President (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:08pm

I hate the Steelers.....and I totally think that Cowher is as good as any regular season coach in the NFL. I mean they can win game after game for years on end, with very little quarterbacking skill- and that includes Ben of the 22 QB rating in the superbowl. Cowher would get my regular season vote most years for having a tough team on both sides of the ball.
I know that Belichick has a lot of respect for Cowher, and why would he not?
I happen to think Belichick is a rare, Paul Brown type coach who will change the way the game is played. Notice more and more complicated defenses with more defensive backs and less linemen, to stop the passing attack. Note the spreading of the wealth under the salary cap and less overpriced players around the league. Belichick has had influence on a lot of things in football.
However, I would think it wise to include Cowher every year in the voting just like Bill! He has a tough regular season team every year, even with variable quarterback play.

164
by chad (not verified) :: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 11:38pm

YAKUZA RICH

Could you be any more of a HOMER? None of those plays (re 159) were William's responsibility? But you know for a FACT that Polamalu was burned repeatedly this year and that each one of them was his responsibility? Are you for real?

Nice one there in 160, using last year's AFC Champ game...we are talking about an award for this year....

And finally you watch Cowboys games 4 times and take notes? You need a girlfriend brotha.

165
by ziminy (not verified) :: Sat, 02/25/2006 - 3:13am

Where's that guy Moses who said Urlacher was weak between the tackles because he had poor leg strength? I guess he discovered some new muscles in his thighs this year. I still laugh when I think about that post.

166
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 02/25/2006 - 11:07pm

Roy Williams has got to be the most overrated safety in the NFL.

167
by Matt Salazar (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 4:09pm

I didn't vote for QB Alex smith of the 49ers for most overated defensive player, but with his 11/1 int/td ratio, he was on defense a lot.

168
by cinfan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/24/2006 - 7:39pm

re:24
Right on DGL. I know that I am egregiously one-sided but it appears to me that two of the best teams in football are in the AFC North and that the Browns may be more than pretenders next year. We may look back in ten years and find that the AFC North dominated football in a very real way.