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25 Jan 2012

Scramble for the Ball: 2011 All-KCW Team

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

I Wonder What Color the Carpet Is ...

Tom It is time for one of Scramble's annual traditions: the All-Keep Chopping Wood team. In addition to the weekly award named after Jack Del Rio's locker room experiment gone awry (thanks to punter Chris Hanson), Scramble for the Ball annualy picks a full starting lineup of players who did the most to help their team lose games in the year. Players are selected based on a combination of their on-field and off-the-field contributions to not winning games, with the ideal selection being a terrible player who is also a locker room cancer and gets other players in trouble.

Mike: Thank you, Tom, for telling us what we already know. Another important thing that your Scramble writers look for when choosing the AKCWT (that's A.K.C.W.T. for Tanier) is a level of consistent awfulness that undermines the competitiveness of the team, yet, for one reason or another, is tolerated. We try hard to fill out the roster with full-year starters, because it's very hard to chop wood while riding the pine. This also explains why the team is not merely all the recipients of this year's weekly awards. That, and the team would only have 18 players. And about half of them would be Blaine Gabbert. For the impatient or those who would like a quick reference, the roster can be found below.

Anyway, where should we start?

Tom: How about quarterback?

Mike: Segue!

Quarterback

Tom: And, what do you know, one player ended up with almost twice as much negative DYAR as any other quarterback.

Mike: I get a feeling I know to whom you're referring.

Tom: Are you thinking of a player who looks like he could be in a boy band? Or at least has that kind of hair?

Mike: No, Tim Tebow wasn't that bad.

Tom: Not even close. We are of course talking about Blaine Gabbert, who both had terrible results and looked terribly uncomfortable in the pocket.

Mike: Yo Gabba Blaine Gabbert! Which of his many, many awful statistics should we highlight? I imagine he's pretty angry with Tebow, since Tebow (46.8 percent) was the only quarterback with over 100 passes who sported a lower completion percentage (51.1).

Tom: See, I'm actually having trouble here, because late in the season, I thought Gabbert actually started playing a little better. He was terribly not ready to play in the NFL, thrust into the starting lineup by a coach on the hot seat, with a terrible offensive line, maybe the worst receiving corps in the NFL, and a tight end who had been good but had an awful year.

Mike: Calling what happened improvement is like saying it was an improvement when your murderer moved on from stabbing your gut to less painful areas.

Tom: He also had a much better DVOA than the man he supplanted, Luke McCown. I grant you, McCown only threw 62 passes, but those were some bad passes. I almost want to instead make Kyle Boller the All-KCW quarterback.

Mike: I can't believe you're making excuses for Gabbert.

Tom: Jason Campbell had a pretty good year (at least for Jason Campbell). When he went down, the Raiders had to go to Boller, and he was so terrible (-87.2% DYAR), Hue Jackson could get away with terribly overpaying for Carson Palmer.

Mike: He was also playing in Oakland, where the starting running back also went down. Also, by definition Boller cannot have chopped the most wood, as he only had 32 opportunities to do so.

Tom: Yes, Darren McFadden did go down, but Michael Bush was among the league's better backup running backs and the Raiders receivers were effective for both Campbell and Palmer. Boller only got 32 opportunities because he was so godawful atrocious.

Mike: I get the feeling that if there were any real escape hatches, or any belief the team could do anything, Gabbert would have been gone just as fast. Boller was a bad player on an average team. Gabbert was a bad player on a bad team. He shouldn't get credit for the suckitude of his peers.

Tom: After benching McCown so quickly, they were kind of stuck, and had trouble improving the situation he was in. It was just sad all around.

Mike: Absolutely, but also absolutely KCW material.

Tom: Yup.

Running Back

Mike: Thomas Jones was just offensively bad.

Tom: Jones was bad in 2010. And 2009. Sooner or later, I think we have to stop blaming Jones for being offensively bad and start looking at whoever is responsible for Jones getting the football.

Mike: That is a very good point.

Tom: Rather than Jones, I am looking at the player who ranked 49th in the league in DVOA and got paid $13 million.

Mike: Frank Gore is actually a promising candidate. Gore is supposedly an elite running back, but he was extremely bad this year, a year when the 49ers practically screamed "play great defense and run the ball." He failed to live up to his side of the bargain. While Chris Johnson was not good, the Titans otherwise weren't a great team. Gore was somehow the weak link on the 49ers.

Tom: I think Gore is getting to Thomas Jones territory c. 2009, a back whose shelf life is rapidly running out. His DVOA this year is actually slightly better than it was last year, though (-8.1% v. -8.9%).

Mike: Last year and this year were very different years for this team, especially since this year the 49ers faced the easiest schedule in the NFL. Go ahead and make the case for Johnson, though, aside from being hideously overpaid, which I agree he is.

Tom: I'm not trying to make the argument Gore had a good year, just that he's not KCW-worthy.

Mike: He was definitely not the worst running back, but his team really needed a strong running game, and he failed to deliver in spectacular fashion.

Tom: Part of the reason I believe Johnson is an absolute lock is he held out and got paid $13 million because he wasn't just one of the league's best running backs, but one of the league's elite "offensive playmakers." Four times this season, he had at least ten carries and failed to gain 25 yards on the ground. He had six games where he averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per carry. The Titans ranked 31st in the NFL in second-level yards and 18th in open-field yards. Back in 2009, when Chris Johnson was actually good, the Titans were seventh in SLY and first by a big margin in OFY. There's been a big debate among Titans fans as to how much of Johnson's struggles are the result of Johnson and how much are the fault of the offensive line. The answer, unsurprisingly, is both, but Johnson isn't even good at the things he was once awesome at.

Mike: But did it really matter? A great Johnson would have just been a replay of every year of Barry Sanders' career.

Tom: The Titans went 9-7 and were one game short of making the playoffs.

Mike: Sorry, I don't think the Titans had any chance of doing anything in the playoffs.

Tom: I went to the Titans-Colts game this year, and if the Titans had employed Donald Brown while the Colts had Johnson, I believe the Titans would've won that game.

Mike: They would have won the right to lose in the first round.

Tom: Just like the Steelers. Would you have rather missed the playoffs?

Mike: No, but that isn't the question.

Tom: Fine, would you be unhappy if Ben Roethlisberger had had Blaine Gabbert's season? That's basically what Chris Johnson did.

Mike: Of course I would be unhappy. I'm not saying Titans fans shouldn't be unhappy, but I think Frank Gore's miserable performance was more responsible for his team losing. That, after all, is what KCW is all about.

Tom: Johnson got paid $13 million and I saw him voluntarily dive head-first into the ground rather than try to break a tackle by a cornerback. That kind of lack of effort is absolutely All-KCW worthy.

Mike: In the interest of actually choosing a player, I will assent to Chris Johnson since we do have other positions to shout at each other about.

Tom: We can name Frank Gore as well, but we should move on before I spend the rest of the column ranting about Johnson.

Wide Receiver

Tom: It seems like pretty much every year there's at least one wide receiver who lives up to the position's diva reputation and absolutely demands a spot on this team. Every year except this year.

Mike: I would nominate Chad OchoJohnsonCinco, but he didn't do anything, much less chop wood.

Tom: Chad this year is like Randy Moss in Tennessee last year: a complete non-event despite the initial hoopla.

Mike: Exactly.

Tom: I guess the one receiver who did eventually stand out this year was Santonio Holmes.

Mike: Now, are you just mentioning that because Scramble Pen-Pal Flores mentioned him derisively every week? (We will call in that round of drinks, by the way. Do not doubt it.)

Tom: No, but given that his quarterback was Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan apparently decided to make team captains an aspirational award rather than one based on actual achievements, I think that qualifies as a collective effort.

Mike: To be fair, he decided to get rid of captains altogether, but I imagine was thwarted by the fact that the rules of football actually require them.

Tom: Pesky rules, always getting in the way of things.

Mike: I'm sure Jim Harbaugh can give him a shoulder to cry on.

Tom: But yes, it came out late in the season that Holmes eventually started yelling in a team meeting and stopped putting in even a Chris Johnson level of effort on the field. Beyond Holmes, we have a couple options. There's Tampa Mike Williams and his deeply disappointing sophomore campaign. There's our last-place finisher in DYAR, Devin Aromashodu -– but did you really expect anything different from Devin Aromashodu? We could go with the deeply miscast-as-a-top-receiver Jacksonville's Mike Thomas. Chiefs rookie Jonathan Baldwin of training-camp-fight fame and lousy numbers also has a case.

Mike: Baldwin would've had to be much, much worse to make KCW as a rookie. It's like the actual All-Pro squad. We have high standards!

Tom: I guess you could also throw Lee Evans' name into the mix, though I think his limited regular season impact was more injury-related. See, I actually liked Baldwin more than the other candidates, because his candidacy was more than just ineffective play.

Mike: My personal punching bag, Braylon Edwards, didn't even have enough targets to qualify for the discussion.

Tom: For me, he falls into the Ochocinco-style disappointing-but-anodyne category.

Mike: Yeah. Remind me of the Baldwin incident. My memory is a bit fuzzy.

Tom: I'm not sure there was ever a good explanation of everything, but he supposedly really annoyed teammates with a very entitled attitude, got into it with a couple teammates, and eventually had a fight with Thomas Jones where he ended up with a hand injury.

Mike: See, I'm totally willing to blame Jones for that, astoundingly enough.

Tom: Baldwin ended up missing the first five games of the regular season. The day before the fight, Baldwin reportedly had gotten into a screaming match with Jamaal Charles, so his problems were not just with Jones.

Mike: What? I did not hear about that.

Tom: Money quote: "Diva, spoiled, doesn't wanna listen. Can run a Go and a Slant, and doesn't wanna work."

Mike: How the heck do grown men get in screaming matches?

Tom: Should they proceed immediately to fistfights?

Mike: Yes. I'm sure the Miller Lite guys would have a thing or two to say about the situation.

Tom: Screaming matches are strategic. If Baldwin's a good player -– and the Chiefs did draft him in the first round for a reason -– you don't want him hurt. Whatever you want to say about Jones' on-field performance, he's apparently a respected veteran in the locker room and a hard worker.

Mike: I suppose that is true. All right, Jonathan Baldwin is in.

Tight End

Mike: Wow, Marcedes Lewis had an AWFUL year.

Tom: This is often a hard position, becuase how much damage can a tight end really do? But Lewis I think is far and away the winner. Especially if you look at it in terms of how much he did compared to how much you'd expect from him. Remember, he was 11th among tight ends in DYAR last year, and he was last with a bullet this year. A tight end should be a young quarterback's best friend, yet Lewis simply had an atrocious season as a pass-catcher.

Mike: Indeed. The one thing a non-prime-time tight end is supposed to do is serve as a reliable outlet in the flat, or even short passes over the middle. Lewis used to be able to do that, but apparently no longer can.

Tom: I don't think Lewis was a head case this year, but I don't know of any tight end that really was. We're therefore picking tight ends by ineffectiveness, and I think he tops the list.

Mike: Indeed.

Offensive Line

Mike: This is the part where everyone starts yelling at us.

Tom: Yes, and it could be either because we've overlooked how good their team's lineman is and have unfairly denigrated them, or we've overlooked how bad their team's lineman is and have unfairly not named him. Take, for instance, left tackle. In the NFC West, we have two excellent nominees in the perennially problematic Levi Brown of the Cardinals and the Rams' Rodger Saffold, another player who had a horrible second season after a strong rookie year.

Mike: There's an underlying problem that you cannot really judge line play without actually watching tape of it.

Tom: Exactly. We do have J.J. Cooper's sack data, so I can you tell you he credits Saffold for 8.5 sacks and Brown for 10.0 sacks.

Mike: That should probably be dispositive, especially since St. Louis was a complete disaster, largely due to its line.

Tom: That's really only two plays over the course of the year. Even though Roger Saffold gave up fewer sacks, I'd give the honor to him. At right tackle, we have a clear winner in the Jaguars' Guy Whimper, who gave up 13.5 sacks and was the subject of multiple FO columns on just how awful he was.

Mike: He is powerful bad, and also has a very KCW name.

Tom: The thing about Whimper is, the Jaguars drafted offensive tackles in the first two rounds of the 2009 NFL draft. Eugene Monroe started at left tackle and had a decent, if not great, year. Eben Britton, whom Ben Muth reminded me received the second-most All-Pac-10 votes of any left tackle in 2008, couldn't beat out Whimper and was moved to left guard. Britton eventually went on IR and was replaced by rookie Will Rackley, who was poor in his own right. I don't know how you feel about having two Jaguars linemen on the squad, but I think there's a good chance they deserve it.

Mike: I dunno. That seems a bit extreme.

Tom: Maybe it is, but Whimper in my mind unquestionably deserves it, and Britton should've been able to beat him out.

Mike: Hrm. There has to be someone.

Tom: I'm not in love with any left guard nominees.

Mike: What about Traffic Cone, LG, Pittsburgh Steelers? Wait, traffic cone was injured.

Tom: Rackley gave up 6.5 sacks. I think Whimper at right tackle and a split Britton/Rackley nod at left guard is perfectly fair.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: Right guard, I have a candidate I like. The Falcons lost last year's starter Harvey Dahl in free agency and replaced him with third-year player Garrett Reynolds, who was awful before getting benched for Joe Hawley. As much as you think Frank Gore held back the 49ers, I think Reynolds held back the Falcons at least as much.

Mike: Excellent choice.

Tom: Center is another very difficult position.

Mike: Personally, I think we should be looking at a center with lots of responsibilities, like one working with a rookie quarterback, who is responsible for line calls.

Tom: The person I want to nominate is the Rams' Jason Brown, who signed a lucrative free agent deal before 2009. He got benched, and then was moved to left guard. When they signed him away from the Ravens, he was supposed to be the linchpin to build the line around, not somebody they replaced. If you want to kick Saffold to the curb for Levi Brown to get Jason Brown on the team, I'm fine with that.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: Brown it is, and we're done with the offense. Now to the other side of the ball.

Defensive Line

Tom: And we finally get to talk about the Cleveland Browns!

Mike: How have we avoided the Browns thus far?

Tom: They were mostly just garden-variety bad instead of ridiculously awful? And Gabbert out-classed Colt McCoy in awfulness.

Mike: True.

Tom: The Browns were terrible defending runs up the middle this year. Both defensive tackles, Ahytba Rubin and rookie Phil Taylor, make their average tackle well downfield and had terrible stop rates. Taylor, in fact, ranked last among defensive tackles. Are you comfortable picking on the rookie, or shall we take the veteran?

Mike: Oh, Taylor, by a mile. I've seen few players who looked so completely lost on so many different occasions.

Tom: Rubin was bad enough I don't think it can be by a mile, but I'm on board with the Phil Taylor pick. At the other tackle spot, while we try not to make this about our teams, I think the Titans' Shaun Smith is another player who deserves strong consideration. He had a terrible stop rate, made his average tackle well downfield, did essentially nothing in terms of rushing the passer, and more or less got benched as the year went on.

Mike: Benched players cease to chop wood.

Tom: If Smith were a little bit better, he'd have kept playing as much as he was earlier in the year, so that makes him a worse player? I can see the logic there, when we're judging players in terms of career value. So if you want to say Joey Harrington is the worst quarterback in NFL history and Norv the worst coach because their teams didn't move on to other options, I'm fine with that. That's why I didn't mention J.P. Losman as the league's worst quarterback even though he was last in DVOA.

Mike: How about Antonio Garay, who is both an awful player and completely insane?

Tom: Shaun Smith once punched a teammate in the nuts and a local news reporter claimed part of the reason he was benched was because he was an annoying loudmouth. Sorry, let me correct myself: he previously punched his team's quarterback in the face, and grabbed a former teammate's nuts. The reporter comments were indeed from this year, plus Smith spent a lot of Twitter time talking to Kansas City fans who for some reason yearned for his return even though the Chiefs were terrible against the run when he played for them.

Mike: Smith is the kind of guy whose idiotic infractions tend to blend together.

Tom: Granted, the quarterback was Brady Quinn, and neither the punch nor the nut grab occurred in 2010. There's just evidence he's not the best locker room presence, while Garay is probably just weird.

Mike: Garay is also San Diego's nose tackle, and they were a team which had the worst power success rate (75 percent) and near-worst stuffed rank (28th), despite having a pretty good crew of linebackers and defensive backs.

Tom: San Diego's linebackers and defensive backs, outside Eric Weddle, aren't actually that good. The Chargers had both overall talent and injury issues on defense.

Mike: Tenth in second-level yards, below-average 19th in open field, but average adjusted sack rate.

Tom: If you want Garay, I won't complain too much. I think he's more mediocre and weird rather than bad and harmful.

Mike: You can't be last in the NFL in power success without your nose tackle being terrible. It simply is not possible.

Tom: I think Garay is better suited as a rotational defensive linemen with some good players than as a starter. I think the Chargers knew that, but Luis Castillo got hurt and I think they were expecting more from first-round pick Corey Liuget than they got. But, sure, Antonio Garay it is. At defensive end, how about the Bills' right end Dwan Edwards? The Bills were bad playing runs to the offensive left and horrible rushing the passer, and he had 2.5 sacks.

Mike: I'm not going to count low sacks against a defensive end in a 3-4, even a hybrid.

Tom: I was thinking of him more for his run support work, with lack of sacks a contributing factor. Plus, with him at defensive end, we can run a 3-4 and pick four linebackers, or choose three linebackers, run a 3-3-5, and pick on everybody's least favorite defensive backs.

Mike: We already have two nose tackles, so I'm not sure that would work, unless we're fielding an all-tackle defensive line -- which could actually be pretty awesome.

Tom: Garay played more nose tackle this year, but the Chargers still run more of the Wade Phillips-type front where they do things like shade their nose tackle instead of having him play zero-tech and two-gap all the time. I think Edwards, Taylor, and Garay is a good bad 3-4 line.

Mike: Fine, fine.

Linebackers

Mike: I was going to go with Akin Ayodele, but we've already picked on Buffalo's defense.

Tom: Let's leave him in the bag and see if we can fill a team without him.

Mike: Of course, it's probably difficult to not fill the entire roster with Bills linebackers, so we should probably leave well enough alone.

Tom: There are some good non-Bills options. Casey Matthews was ridiculously overmatched for the Eagles, and I think he is a great choice.

Mike: I agree. May I suggest Scott Shanle?

Tom: Scott Shanle is a fine choice at outside linebacker.

Mike: Bad against the pass, bad against the run, and has not even rushed the passer for Gregg Williams.

Tom: What are you talking about? He had his first sack since 2008 this year.

Mike: Wow, a whole sack! I mean, you have to be really bad to look bad in the Saints defense, but he managed it.

Tom: I didn't think the Saints' other linebackers were anything to write home about either, but we'll just stick with Shanle. If we're running a 3-4, we could use another inside linebacker next to Matthews, and I suggest Keith Brooking.

Mike: Seriously?

Tom: Brooking is now in the Thomas Jones territory where his veteran savvy can no longer compensate for his declining physical ability. He's OK as a run-stuffer, but is almost hilariously bad when he ends up in pass coverage and did not have a sack to show that his pass-rush ability makes up for it.

Mike: Wow, I had no idea. Good call.

Tom: We need another outside linebacker. We could stay in the NFC South and choose either one of the Panthers' injury replacements or a member of the Bucs. I suggest either Omar Gaither from the Panthers or Quincy Black from the Bucs.

Mike: I don't think Gaither is really all that awful, so let's go with Black. I wish I could come up with a better candidate, but I can't.

Tom: I ended up seeing a little bit of the Bucs this year and think Quincy Black is a fine choice.

Cornerbacks

Tom: So now we're at the defensive backs.

Mike: Sabby Piscitelli! Sorry, just had to get it out there.

Tom: I laughed. He did start two games for the Chiefs this year.

Mike: Indeed!

Tom: At cornerback, I think we can start with the select players who gave up an average of close to or in excess of 10.0 yards per pass play or more. And what do you know, there's our old friend DeAngelo Hall!

Mike: He can be joined by Stanford Routt, who yes, I know, was featured in our "top success rate" column. However, Oakland was atrocious on third-and-long, the down you rely on your cornerbacks to step up, and based on what I saw, Routt failed miserably.

Tom: That excellent success rate would seem to sort of invalidate him from All-KCW, I'd think.

Mike: So you're willing to give Routt a pass based on his first- and second-down performance, then?

Tom: I thought Routt actually had a decent, though not great, season. The biggest liability the Raiders had in pass defense was Rolando McClain. And really their linebackers in general.

Mike: Linebackers are a different scale on pass defense, though.

Tom: None of them could cover at all, though McClain was the one most often seen in coverage.

Mike: Seriously, Oakland's defense had 121.7% DVOA on third-and-long.

Tom: It wasn't Routt, though, but McClain and general defensive issues, including holes in zone.

Mike: There is no way that was a middle linebacker. In fact, that's not on any of your linebackers. That's a secondary problem. But I'll relent.

Tom: McClain ended up second on the team in targets, which is not usual for a linebacker. Yes, splitting the non-Routt cornerback starts contributed to that, but McClain was bad in coverage and targeted frequently. Without leaving the world of greatly hyped NFC East corners, we get to Terence Newman, who allowed an average 10.8 yards per pass with a lousy 40 percent success rate. If you want to get outside the NFC East, there's also Vikings corner Cedric Griffin, 10.6 yards per pass and 39 percent success rate.

Mike: I was actually looking at Griffin.

Tom: From what I saw of the Vikings, he was indeed quite bad this year.

Mike: Benny Sapp may have been worse, but was a midseason acquisition and was pretty invisible compared to Griffin, who is a kind of in-your-face awful.

Tom: And besides, he's Benny Sapp. C'mon, really?

Mike: I know!

Tom: It's like mentioning Ashton Youboty of the Jaguars. He was a mid-season acquisition and only started after they lost Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis to injury. He was on the street for a really, really good reason: he's atrocious.

Mike: Yep.

Safetymen

Tom: And now safety. Eric Smith of the Jets has some pretty bad charting numbers. He also endeared himself to the hearts of millions by being "the guy who blew contain on Tim Tebow's touchdown run."

Mike: That was some epic wood chopping.

Tom: It really was, and from listening to Jets fans, he's responsible for approximately two-thirds of all big offensive plays against them this year.

Mike: Of course, if you listen to Giants fans, every single running play was a tragic mistake which should result in a river of blood flowing from the front office.

Tom: Bringing up Kevin Gilbride is probably the only way to get Giants fans to agree with Buddy Ryan. Ryan, of course, once famously punched Gilbride in the face while there were both coordinators for the Houston Oilers.

Mike: One of the best -- and worst -- moments in the sport's history.

Tom: For the other safety spot, we have a choice between the incredibly deserving Kurt Coleman of the Eagles, and the almost equally deserving Charlie Peprah of the Packers.

Mike: Somehow we have not yet punished the Packers for fielding such an incredibly awful (no, your turnovers do not make up for it!) defense. This is a good chance to do so.

Tom: Matthews already represents the Eagles, so there you go. Charlie Peprah it is.

Mike: Imagine if they had won the Super Bowl with that defense. We'd never hear the end of it.

Tom: Instead we get the Patriots, whose secondary was roughly as bad. Given that a number of teams play with five defensive backs as much as they play with seven defensive linemen and linebackers, let's also mention Devin McCourty, who was another member of the elite 10-or-more yards per play group and played both corner and safety this year.

Mike: Don't you mean Pro Bowl Cornerback Devin McCourty?

Tom: Indeed.

Special Teams

Tom: Ryan Longwell ranked last in our FG/XP ratings, and the Vikings ranked worst in our kickoff ratings in large part because Longwell had only 19 touchbacks on 77 attempts.

Mike: In a year where we were supposed to see every kick go into the end zone, no less!

Tom: So if you finish last in FG/XP and last in kickoff distance rating, you're the kicker on the All-KCW team.

Mike: No argument there.

Tom: Hopefully that kind of bold precedent will not come back to bite future All-Keep Chopping Wood teams. At punter, the Jaguars let Adam Podlesh, an excellent young directional kicker, leave in free agency. They replaced him with Matt Turk, an old punter who can't kick the ball very far. Turk was almost indescribably bad, so the Jaguars cut him, and he was later picked up by the Texans, where he got to be terrible again.

Mike: How old is Matt Turk, at this point?

Tom: 43.

Mike: Impressive for a 43-year-old, really, but sadly, this is not adjusted for age.

Tom: Matt Turk made his NFL debut in 1995 as a member of the Washington Redskins. One of his teammates on the Redskins was placekicker Eddie Murray. Murray made his NFL debut in the Jimmy Carter administration. Combined Murray and Turk outlasted Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, and Bill Clinton.

Mike: I'd call you on politics in football, but good lord, those two were old.

Tom: Yes.

Mike: Now, the real question: is Kyle Williams the worst returner in the league, or the worst returner in history? Or perhaps the worst returner that could possibly exist?

Tom: Joe Lefeged averaged 18.6 yards per kickoff return this year. I literally have almost no idea how that's possible.

Mike: ... Are you serious?

Tom: He had 31 kickoff returns. 11 of them gained 20 or more yards. Yes, 20 of his 31 kickoff returns gained no more than 19 yards.

Mike: I know that returners are taking the ball out from far deeper than they should, but that just doesn't compute.

Tom: Lefeged's continuing hold on the kickoff returner job was one of the reasons I didn't dismiss as completely crazy the idea that the Colts were tanking the season to ensure they got Andrew Luck.

Mike: On the other hand, Williams has finally created an acceptable usage for that stupid Skyrim meme: "I used to be a punt returner, but then I took a football to the knee." I suppose I should relent, though, because a sub-20 kickoff return is just magical.

Tom: Yup. He also returned punts some of the time. Nine returns for 42 yards, and half of those yards on one return.

Mike: What an exciting and terrible player you have discovered.

Tom: Oh, Colts fans loved him as much as I loved Chris Johnson. We should probably also mention the Bucs' Preston Parker, who had six fumbles or muffs on 36 punt return opportunities. That's why the Bucs were last in the league in our punt return measure.

Coaching Staff

Tom: Now all we need are coaches. Offensive coordinator: Josh McDaniels, Boy Genius.

Mike: Naturally.

Tom: Defensive coordinator: Chuck Bresnahan. He was thrown under the bus by Hue Jackson -- not that he didn't deserve it.

Mike: What? No.

Tom: Oh, fine, I'm sure we really have to give that one to Juan Castillo.

Mike: Yes. He's not even a real defensive coordinator! Unless "think about what you know and then imagine what it looks like in a mirror" is qualification.

Tom: Really, though, naming Castillo defensive coordinator because he wanted to coach defense is like naming Holmes an offensive captain because you want him to show more leadership. It may work out, but you are just asking for trouble.

Mike: Yeah, that has to win our award for boneheaded front office decision of the year. And head coach?

Tom: Oh, yeah. Todd Haley or Jack Del Rio?

Mike: I want to name Jim Harbaugh for repeatedly calling illegal plays, but the team was too successful for him to take this honor.

Tom: It was.

Mike: Jack Del Rio then. It's only fitting.

Tom: Indeed. We have finally made it to the end, and somehow without mentioning Albert Haynesworth, whose departure from the Patriots seemed to launch them to greater success and whose acquisition doomed the Buccaneers to a season-ending winless streak. Perhaps with Del Rio moving out, it is time to harmonize the award names and rename "Keep Chopping Wood" the "Albert Haynesworth Award" and make this the "All-Fat Albert Team."

Mike: I don't know, the Keep Choppin' Wood incident will always hold a place in my heart. Plus, it gives us an opportunity to relate the tale to a new generation of football fans, and nothing can replace the "Wait, that actually happened?!" look on people's faces. Not even our own football version of Patrick Ewing. For those who couldn't keep up (including me!), here is a your 2011 All-Keep Chopping Wood Team:


2011 All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team
Position Player Position Player
QB Blaine Gabbert, JAC DT Phil Taylor, CLE
RB Chris Johnson, TEN DE Dwan Edwards, BUF
RB Frank Gore, SF DE Antonio Garay, SD
WR Santonio Holmes, NYFJ OLB Scott Shanle, NO
WR Jonathan Baldwin, KC OLB Quincy Black, TB
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC ILB Casey Matthews, PHI
OT Rodger Saffold, STL ILB Keith Brooking, DAL
OT Guy Whimper, JAC CB DeAngelo Hall, WAS
G Garrett Reynolds, ATL CB Cedric Griffin, MIN
G Will Rackley, JAC S Eric Smith, NYFJ
C Jason Brown, STL S Charlie Peprah, GB
P Matt Turk, HOU DB Devin McCourty, NE
K Ryan Longwell, MIN DC Juan Castillo, PHI
P/KR Joe Lefeged, IND OC Josh McDaniels, STL
HC Jack Del Rio, JAC

FO Staff Playoff Fantasy Update

Danny has taken a double-digit lead over Rivers, and with Eli Manning and Aaron Hernandez still alive should manage to hold on. Rivers needs Manning to not put up his third straight game of at least twenty points and good games from Victor Cruz and Rob Gronkowski to have a shot.


FO Playoff Divisional Round Results
Sean Rivers Tom Danny Aaron Mike
QB Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees Ben Roethlisberger Eli Manning Tom Brady Matt Ryan
23 70 17 76 53 9
RB Ahmad Bradshaw Darren Sproles Ryan Grant Arian Foster Michael Turner Ray Rice
28 37 2 50 4 15
RB Willis McGahee Stevan Ridley Pierre Thomas Frank Gore Isaac Redman Cedric Benson
17 0 15 22 14 7
WR Jordy Nelson Victor Cruz Antonio Brown Greg Jennings Mike Wallace Marques Colston
3 23 7 4 8 29
WR Hakeem Nicks Anquan Boldin Wes Welker Calvin Johnson Julio Jones A.J. Green
56 23 16 33 7 4
WR Torrey Smith Roddy White Andre Johnson Michael Crabtree Donald Driver Lance Moore
14 5 26 8 10 0
TE Jimmy Graham Rob Gronkowski Heath Miller Aaron Hernandez Jermichael Finley Jermaine Gresham
33 40 6 23 3 4
K Mike Nugent Billy Cundiff Shaun Suisham David Akers Mason Crosby Matt Bryant
4 18 12 18 9 0
D Bengals Texans 49ers Ravens Packers Steelers
-1 18 13 11 -2 -2
Total 177 234 114 245 106 66

Best of the Rest Update

Former Scramble writer Al Bogdan is doing his best to put everyone but Danny and Rivers to shame, as he has 210 points and a commanding lead, plus BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Jacobs, Deion Branch, Stephen Gostkowski, and Giants defense remaining. Al in fact came close to picking the ideal Best of the Rest team, only choosing Kyle Williams instead of Mario Manningham. The K is in a distant second with 176 points, but needs Giants defense and Jacobs to combine for -35 points to pass Al. A player with a more promising shot is Podge, with 172 points in third place, who could make up that 38 point deficit with terrible games by Green-Ellis and Giants defense and a superlative game by Manningham. For complete results, see the page put together by Al's former writing partner Ian Dembsky, whose scores finally match those of your Scramble writer.

You can also click here to look at scores for the FO Fantasy Playoff Challenge.

Awards!

KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: After the AFC Championship Game, your Scramble writers were prepared to have a long and strenuous debate about the relative culpability of Joe Flacco, Billy Cundiff, and Lee Evans, but then unfortunately for him Kyle Williams made that whole debate moot. It should still be noted that Flacco, with a timeout, over 20 seconds on the game clock, and an open field, failed to jog the three yards and slide to give his team at least one shot at the end zone before trying the ill-fated kick. Most people will focus on Cundiff's terrible shank on that field goal attempt, but Flacco not only failed to execute but made a completely boneheaded decision in the process.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: Bill Belichick's decision to opt to take a knee at the end of the first half is not that shocking considering the Patriots were starting at their own 11. What made it curious though is that the Ravens had two timeouts remaining. With 58 seconds left, the Patriots could not simply take a knee and go to the half. Unless, of course, John Harbaugh decided to bail Belichick out by not using either of his two timeouts. If nothing else, the Ravens would have had enough time for a fair catch kick, where Cundiff could showcase the distance he had on kickoffs.

COLBERT AWARD: None, really, as Sunday's games were by and large defined by conservatism, with both John Harbaugh and Belichick opting to take field goals rather than go for it on fourth-and-short from inside the opposing 10-yard line. There were three fourth down attempts, and none was particularly bold, as the Giants and Ravens both elected to go for it from inside the opposing 35 but outside reliable field goal range, and the Patriots elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 while down four in the fourth quarter.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 25 Jan 2012

72 comments, Last at 28 Jan 2012, 12:40pm by Andrew Potter

Comments

1
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:10pm

Not to be bitter (but to be totally bitter), I would have assumed you could have saved yourselves some time this year by just renaming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers "The All-KCW Team".

I think Tampa's epic collapse should have propelled Raheem Morris into the KCW Coach of the Year all on his own.

19
by Guest789 :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:57pm

I gotta go with Morris too. He made it to the end of the year and ensured that his team didn't win another game.

-----

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

26
by Sancho (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:28pm

Well, they tried. At least, they listed Gabbert as a Buc.

45
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:02pm

It is not really an "epic collapse" Tampa was not nearly as good as they looked 2 years ago. Morris is fell prey to that oldest of coaching failures "don't win too early".

Going 10-6 will such little talent on the roster was a huge mistake, especially after a 3-13 year. If he had simple gone say, 6-10 he would have had a much better chance of keeping his job after going 4-12 this year.

The NFL makes the silliest personnel decisions. Not saying he was a good coach, but 4-12 is about what I would expect out of that roster.

2
by ChuckC (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:12pm

I think it's really tough to say that Frank Gore significantly contributed to his team losing games when his team only lost 4 games out of 18 and in the playoff loss, your own stats said he was the best RB of the weekend.

7
by raorao (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:40pm

Even if you don't trust the advanced stats, Gore's stat sheet does not make him look like a dominant back. Gore's only >5.0 YPC games this season were against the Cardinals, Saints, Eagles, Bucs, Redskins, and Lions -- otherwise knows as, the 23th, 21st, 15th, 30th, 14th, and 29th best defenses agains the run. Across his last 8 weeks of regular season play, Gore only broke the 4.0 YPC mark twice. He may have turned it on for the playoffs, but its tough to argue that he had a great season.

40
by ChuckC (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:05am

There's a big gap between "not dominant" and "actively hurting his team." I don't think he had a great season but he wasn't the weak link on that offense.

50
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:06pm

I'm betting he also saw a lot of defenses with extra men in the box and general scheming focused on stopping him.

53
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 8:38pm

He did, the first time we played the Giants they had at least eight and often nine men in the box. It didn't help that the line struggled to pick up big blitzes and that Smith gets more than a little jumpy, preventing the 49ers from punishing such tactics. Gore is looking a little long in the tooth though.

3
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:13pm

How did Caleb Hanie avoid even a mention for the AKCW QB?

He is the QB of nearly double as bad of a DVOA of Gabbert, the only qualifying QB to have negative effective yards, he had the 2nd lowest DYAR showing that he was not only bad, but managed a lot of bad, and sunk the playoff hopes of a legitimately good team. The Jags might well have been awful with Aaron Rodgers taking snaps.

10
by JIPanick :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:00pm

That is an excellent question.

12
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:08pm

We initially made a passing reference to Hanie, but ended up editing it out. Like Juan Castillo, Gabbert kind of lapped the field in terms of both results and how bad he looked. Hanie had as a mitigating factor that the Bears lost Forte and Cutler at the same time, while Gabbert benefited from Maurice Jones-Drew, who still managed to lead the league in rushing.

27
by TomC :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:31am

Like Juan Castillo, Gabbert kind of lapped the field in terms of both results and how bad he looked.

I disagree. And, unlike most arguments of this nature, in this case we actually have the perfect metric by which to judge the two contestants. Let's call it DVOM (defense-adjusted value over McCown). Yes, the Bears already had third-rate offensive weapons and got even worse when they lost Forte. Nevertheless, Josh McCown managed to put up -44% DVOA in two starts and a bit of mop-up time, and that was without Johnny Knox, who was hurt in the last game Hanie started. That leaves Hanie with a -24.8% DVOM.

Gabbert, on the other hand, had *positive* DVOM, managing a -40% DVOA with the even-worse-than-Chicago skill players and O-line, where Luke McCown had -66.5%. Apparently, Jacksonville would have been -2 and 18 if they'd left their McCown in.

(Oh, and the Hanie/J. McCown stats reinforce the notion that Jay Cutler (+3.8% DVOA) is really, really good.)

29
by JasonG (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:58am

"based on contributions to not winning games"

With a single of his infinite slips Knox lost the Bears 5 games.

4
by raorao (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:26pm

As a niners fan, I have no idea how to explain Gore's numbers. When he's on the field, he seems like he's still finding holes in stacked boxes like it was 2008 -- that is, his line plays terrible, but he's doing the best he can to make something happen. But these numbers are line-independent, so apparently he sucks for reasons other than having Adam Snyder as a lead blocker. Far be it from me to explain that from his play.

Regardless, if Jim Harbaugh plans to run the ball 400+ times next season, this team needs to pick up a second workhorse back to share the load. Drastically Underpriced Peyton Hillis, I'm looking at you.

5
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:35pm

No running numbers are line-independent.

6
by Marko :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:39pm

"A great Johnson would have just been a replay of every year of Barry Sanders' career."

Or Antonio Cromartie's.

28
by TomC :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:33am

Try the veal!

48
by Independent George :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:33pm

+1,000

Holy schnikes that made me laugh out loud.

8
by Meowmixlvr (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:51pm

Not that it matters but Gabbert plays for Jax

9
by MJ (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:57pm

I have to say, I expected Mike to call in that promised round of drinks after the Pittsburgh/Denver playoff game!
Also, Scramble Pen-Pal is a neat title. I think I'll add it to my sigs!

11
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:06pm

This team would have been a joke without at least one Eagle on the D. Should have had Coleman too, but OK. Now I'll crawl under my blanket for the next week and a half until the horror of Giants media overload is done.

22
by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:27pm

Hey, your team got its turn in August. My team gets it in January, what's the difference?

13
by Jonadan :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:29pm

As far as I can tell, the link to click "here" to check the Playoff challenge doesn't actually let you click "here" at the moment.

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

14
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:32pm

Fixed.

15
by JonFrum :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:56pm

I was afraid I wouldn't see my team represented, but then McCourty showed up. How a guy could get that bad in one season - his second! - is hard to fathom. For much of the season, he seemed to have a bad case of 'don't turn around' disease, and let receivers catch the ball downfield while running shoulder to shoulder with them. If you're not going to turn around, what are you bothering running with the guy for - to get your tackle numbers up?

17
by RickD :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:42pm

"How a guy could get that bad in one season - his second! - is hard to fathom."

The answer to this question is similar to the answer to the question "Why does Papelbon keep throwing fastball after fastball?" Bad coaching.

35
by PaddyPat :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:39am

I sort of object to McCourty being singled out as the most eligible Patriot. It really felt like Sergio Brown was the greatest contributor to Patriot losses this year. He essentially personally lost the game against the NYG; he played a very big role in the loss to BUF, which NE could have won in spite of the 4 turnovers. I didn't see the Pittsburgh game, but I certainly saw plenty of other worthy plays. I don't know what his charting data looks like, but Brown was definitely the worst Patriot safety this year on a team where the safety play was so bad, it often felt like the team would be better off fielding 9 players on defense. I mean, the safeties at best, if lucky, could only hope to tackle their own corners out of the plays. Their angles were bad. Their tackles were bad. It was bad.

So why not? Sergio Brown. Gimme some love.

54
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 8:45pm

Although this is a yearly award, I'm wouldn't want to be too harsh on a 2nd-year DB.

16
by ineedawittyname (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:39pm

As someone in a long-term relationship with the Colts (nevermind, that sounded bad... someone who has followed the Colts for awhile), LEFEGED STINKS!

But I expected that. the last time the Colts ran out a competent returner was probably 2006 with Terrence Wilkins. before that? I dunno, Bill Brooks? the Coverage and Return teams just haven't been a priority under Coach Dungy and Caldwell. I really hope the new staff pays some attention to the "overlooked third" of the game.

18
by Thok :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:50pm

No mention of Cedric Benson for All-KCW? As far as I can tell he's worse than Gore, and only did less damage because he had to deal with a suspension.

20
by Rich A (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 8:50pm

Martz for OC! Completely dysfunctional relationship with his QB's and adjusting to what he has on hand. 7 step drops FTW!!!

37
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 8:20am

McDaniels appeared to combine 3 step drops with slow developing routes and specific instructions for the O-line not to block anyone. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he had a large bet on Sam Bradford dying before the end of the season.

64
by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 6:29am

He was also working with the worst group of receivers in the league. I just rewatched their opening game against the Eagles. Holy smokes those "receivers" were barely worthy of the designation. It was like the Packers wideouts' playoff performance against the Giants, only without the occasional flashes of talent. It's a wonder McDaniels didn't just run the ball every down, even with Jackson hurt after the first play.

Bradford was also far, far better than his numbers in that game. He should have had at least four more completions for at least sixty more yards before halftime. If that's what the Rams receivers have been like all year, it's no wonder both he and McDaniels looked terrible.

21
by Camp Bras (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 9:41pm

Segue!, is it Portuguese? It means "Go on!" and fits perfectly...

24
by Jonadan :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:42pm

I have no idea which Romance language English stole the word from, but I know the Latin root is sequor, which means "follow".

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

25
by Sancho (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:21pm

Oh, yes, of course! It means that too. "Seguir" (the infinitive form of the verb of which "segue" is the imperative) can be both "to follow" or "to proceed".

I did not know it was used in English as well.

30
by Sancho (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:03am

According to Merriam-Webster, it comes from Italian. It is used in Music, and it means both "Follow" and "Proceed".

I should known Italian better.

51
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:17pm

Merriam-Webster doesn't list the most relevant English usage to this context, which is #5 here.

23
by Notanonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:28pm

Outstanding read. Very funny.

31
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:09am

On principle, I don't think Gabbert, or any other rookie, should be in consideration for this team. Especially when its a QB on such an overall sucky team (not to mention being protected by 2 KCW starting OL). Therefore, IMO it should be Hanie or Boller (and yes, one starting game that bad should be enough for consideration when it forces a "retired" Bengals QB to play). For similar reasons, Ochocinco over Baldwin at WR and somebody else over the overmatched Matthews the Younger at ILB. I also nominate ROLB Packers for the defense. Whether it was Brad Jones, Erik Walden or Frank Zombo, the lack of anything resembling production from that position was even more a reason for the decline of the defense than Charlie Peprah's regression to mean. Rams RT Jason Smith was far worse than LT Saffold. Saffold was merely mediocre. Smith was god-awful before going on IR for a concussion, and even though he was the second pick in 2009 he will probably be cut unless he agrees to redo his contract. I realize that would be 2 RTs, but having 3 LTs is pretty common at the Pro Bowl. These are just minor nitpicks though. Good article.

33
by Alternator :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:28am

Just wondering, but what grounds do you have Ochocinco as one of the worst WR in the league? That's a team with three excellent receiving options (Welker + the Tight Ends), an old vet who has long familiarity with the QB in Branch, and you'd reasonably expect Ocho to be the 4th or 5th guy.

Yeah, he's disappointing, but the cost to obtain him was low, the expectations were reasonable, and he didn't cause much trouble for the team. He didn't even hurt the team much, since he never played too much.

41
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:06am

Given that the preseason expectations of many were that Ochocinco would flourish and be a top WR, yet he ended up rarely, if ever, starting. He had trouble with his route assignments. He dropped or missed several balls. Yes, they got him at a bargain price. But a quick Googling of preseason articles will show that he was still expected to be a far greater contributor than the result. Plus, keeping him on the roster meant one fewer backup WR who could contribute on special teams. The Pats were fortunate that their WR and TE were healthy all year so Ochocinco's underwhelming play wasn't a problem.

66
by Alternator :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 7:43pm

He's disappointing, yes.

Where is the out-and-out harm to the team? Where did Ocho unequivocally damage his team during the game, week in and week out?

How is he supposed to be ABLE to damage the team when he wasn't playing much? He ended up as an overpriced backup. That's unfortunate, and hopefully a one-year thing, but it's not even close to making him the worst WR in the league.

71
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 9:07am

I think the receivers should have been WR Rams and WR Rams, to be honest. Until they signed Lloyd, that was the most inhumanly appalling group in the history of ever.

72
by Andrew Potter :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 12:40pm

Seconded. Wow, those guys were awful.

55
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:02pm

Since the KCW award is for actual performance, I'd agree that Ocho doesn't really merit consideration because he didn't really do anything at all, let alone perform negatively.

On the other hand, I did wonder how Erik Walden escaped notice here. Not only did he deliver awful performances, he also managed to get himself arrested for domestic violence.

32
by Alternator :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:25am

I'm actually doing pretty decent in the FO Playoff Pick'em. 13th this week, 25th overall, with Brady and Bradshaw left alive. The name (Paging Jim Mora) is nothing special, but dammit, I'm proud of assembling a strong team!

34
by Ryan D (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 2:05am

I thought for sure Olindo Mare would make the AKCWT team as the kicker. He missed at least two short field goals that would have tied the game very late (31 yards vs Minnesota, giving them a third of their wins on the season) or taken the lead late (36 yards vs Atlanta, though Atlanta went on to score again any way). Winning just those two games would have put Carolina at 8-8, one game behind Atlanta for the last wild card playoff birth. It wouldn't have been as painful to watch as a Panthers fan if John Kasay hadn't come out of his forced "retirement" to go have a great season for the division-rival Saints.

36
by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:21am

Well, listen, any defensive backfield which made Tebow look like Fran Tarkenton for 60 minutes probably should have more than one guy named to this squad, but picking Griffin, with two ruined knees, among the bumbling Vikings candidates, just seems wrong. I know, I know, the selection of the All-KCW squad is no place for sentimental mercy, but it just seems that it would have been better to pick some incompetent with horns on his purple head who had not gone through such a surgical nightmare over the past 24 months.

56
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:10pm

Unfortunately, the Vikings left Griffin hung out there to dry, and the results were clear for everyone to see.

38
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 8:25am

You failed to note that Saffold managed to give up those 8.5 sacks in about 8 games as well. And that Jason Brown got benched at Center to be replaced by a Guard cut by the 49ers (they of the great offensive line), before he moved to Guard after riding the pine for a week or two.

Those seem like criticisms of your research, but what I'm actually saying is that you are even more right than you thought.

39
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 8:31am

Hmm. I have Gostkowski, BJGE and Manningham left. Bogdan has Gostkowski, BJGE, Jacobs, Branch and the Giants D left. The K has no one left that Bogdan doesn't.

Basically, for Bogdan not to win, it needs to be the most wildly entertaining Superbowl ever. Turnovers from Branch and Jacobs galore, and TDs galore for Manningham.

42
by sam :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:39am

I think putting Britton on the list is unfair. He was injured in camp and wasn't getting reps at RT. Rackley was struggling at LG and so they plugged Britton in there for a bit but he was never at any point in the season healthy and I don't think really played enough to warrant consideration for the KCW team.

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

43
by Hank (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:07am

I would like to see the 2010 kcw team go against this roster.

44
by zlionsfan :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:24am

A great Johnson would have just been a replay of every year of Barry Sanders' career, except for the one where the Lions had a first-round bye and made it to the NFC Championship game.

Fixed that for you. (woo, strength of schedule! Ah, the good old days.)

52
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:54pm

Man they had Dallas' number that year. Shame they ran into the Redskins again.

57
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:20pm

I hate the Redskins almost as much as I hate the Cowboys.

46
by Harris :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:07pm

He probably doesn't have enough catches to qualify, but there really should be a special mention for the Eagles' (but not for long!) stev smit. He tipped a pass to the Giants for a redzone INT, dived to the ground short of a crucial first down late against the Cardinals even though there wasn't a defender within three yards of him and by eating up valuable money that could have gone to DeSean Jackson, helped created a ridiculous situation that will probably end with Jackson leaving in free agency. If he wasn't the worst free agent signing of the year, I don't know who was.

47
by Ravens (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:18pm

Flacco for the weekly Keep Chopping Wood? How about the QB that presented one chance to clinch the AFC Championship, immediately threw an INT into double coverage, then given a second chance to clinch the title, couldn't convert a third-and-two, giving Baltimore its final chance to score?

58
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:23pm

Because we're talking about performance for the entire season here, not in one game.
If you want to argue that Flacco outperformed Brady all year long, go ahead -- but don't expect anyone to take you seriously.

65
by Ravens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 9:42am

No, I'm talking about the Weekly Award at the bottom of the column.

67
by Alternator :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 7:45pm

Flacco played against the Patriots defense, IE, a group that is not good.

Brady played against the Ravens defense, IE, a group that is very, very good.

68
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 9:27pm

And what the poster doesn't mention is that Brady's INT into double coverage on an endzone shot is immediately preceded by Flacco throwing an awful INT into double coverage about 10 yards directly in front of him.

49
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:18pm

WAYNE HUNTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

60
by Jerry P. :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:58pm

Did the Jaguars and Jack Del Rio bang your wives or something?

Rivers and Sanchez are your starting QBs being coached by Norv Turner and Rex Ryan. Not sure how none of these guys got mentioned in their respective sections given Norv Turner makes the entire FO staff wail like a cat in heat every week during Audibles and Rex Ryan is perpetuating the myth that the Dirty Sanchez is anything other than what you do to your girlfriend. Blaine Gabbert? For real? Look at a list of fumbles actually lost and interceptions. Then look at who was both expected to be and in position to make the playoffs. It's wasn't Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars.

Also, Jason Garrett iced his own kicker and turned the last game of the regular season into a playoff game as a result. Not even a mention of that in favor of taking shots at a guy who got to the playoffs because of Norv Turner's bad decisions. And then won a game when he got there. That's just weak.

It's not your terrible choices for QB and coach that's even the problem. It's that you so obviously wanted to use the article as a vehicle to attack your choices to the point of ignoring everything else. I get it, you don't like Jack Del Rio. If you think he did the most of any coach to stop his team from winning this season you shouldn't be writing about football.

61
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:41pm

None of the coaches mentioned here reached the playoffs, are you confusing one of them with John Fox?

62
by Tom Gower :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 2:40am

On the Jaguars selections:
1. Gabbert was the league's worst quarterback in DYAR terms by a wide margin, and his pocket presence was so bad that informed observers believe may mean he may never be a good NFL quarterback.
2. In putting together the offensive linemen, we were influenced by the sack ratings put together by J.J. Cooper. On those ratings, Guy Whimper was credited for the most sacks allowed by any offensive linemen, and I'm pretty sure Will Rackley was credited for the most sacks allowed by any interior offensive lineman. Note J.J. in determining credit for sacks lists some as being caused by the quarterback or playcall rather than by the offensive linemen. From what I saw of the Jaguars this year, I subjectively rated both players as quite poor pass blockers in particular.
3. As we noted in the column, it is often difficult to pick a particularly deserving tight end. Last year, I would've rated Lewis among the league's best and most complete tight ends. From what I saw of the Jaguars, he had a particularly poor year as a receiver, in a year where it was important for him to play well, and our statistics rated him clearly the worst tight end.
4. Was Jack Del Rio clearly the most KCW-worthy coach? Probably not, and you could make a good argument Raheem Morris may have deserved it more. Considering, however, that Keep Chopping Wood owes its name to one of JDR's motivational ploys, giving it to him the year he was fired seemed quite fitting.
5. As I wrote up in the weekly Martz award this year after JDR was fired, I believe the Jaguars made serious efforts in judgment about the state of their team following the successful 2007 season that negatively affected the team the last four seasons. Frankly, I feel sorry for Jaguars fans the same way I've felt sorry for Raiders fans; they deserve better than the team they've had to root for of late.

59
by greybeard :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:57pm

Gore in KCW is a great example of acute SII (statistics induced ignorance). Gore had a good year. He started bad in the first two games, then played really well the next 7. Though stats cannot differentiate his effort from his lineman so it is lost on FO, then got hurt in Giants game, had a few uneven games and then played very good football the last 4. He was very good as a runner when he was not hurt. He hit the right holes (tell that to DVOA), gto the available yards and then some. The only thing he was bad at was catching the ball, he had 9 or 10 drops, which is very uncharacteristics for him, and he was great at blitz pick up after the fifth game.

Gore contributed to 49ers success. He did not chop wood.

63
by akn :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 5:23am

He may not qualify based on number of plays, but I thought Sam "Make is Snow" Hurd deserved a WR or ST spot.

69
by Dave in Tucson (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 1:59am

[Frank Gore] was extremely bad this year

What? Did I miss something? Gore had easily the most yards from scrimmage and most touchdowns of any player on the 49ers. He had the 2nd-most rushing yards of his career, and 6th-most rushing yards of all players (behind MJD, Ray Rice, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster)

All this while Alex Smith was his quarterback. Not the most amazing season, but he did play a part in getting his team to 13 wins and the NFC title game. Which doesn't seem like KCW material to me...

70
by Andrew Potter :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 3:38am

Gore is a bizarre selection for this award. He's ageing and not the player he once was, but there's no way he had a KCW level season. Chris Johnson, sure. Thomas Jones, alright. Peyton Hillis maybe, with all that is he/isn't he injured nonsense. But Frank Gore? No way.