Denver Broncos LB Josey Jewell

Rob Weintraub's 2020 All-AFC West Team

The first goal every NFL team sets is to win its division. How those eight fratricidal battles shake out usually determines team success in any given season. Yet postseason laurels are broken down by conference, if at all. That never made sense to me—even college football selects all-conference teams. Why don't the pros anoint the best each division has to offer?

Well, now they do. We finish up our All-Division teams with Left Coasters, the AFC West.

OFFENSE

QB: Patrick Mahomes, KC

The division had three of the top eight passers by DYAR (Derek Carr and Justin Herbert were seventh and eighth), plus Drew Lock at 30th. Mahomes, who led the league in that number (second to Aaron Rodgers in DVOA and QBR), can take solace after his Super Bowl disappointment that it is offset by beating out the tough competition for All-Div honors.

RB: Melvin Gordon, DEN
RB: Austin Ekeler, LAC

Not much of a season toting the rock for backs in the AFC West. Gordon was highest-placed by DYAR at just 27th. Ekeler earns the nod over Clyde Edwards-Helaire of Kansas City thanks to his strong year catching passes (another area where the other division backs did little to nothing in 2020).

WR: Tyreek Hill, KC
WR: Tim Patrick, DEN
WR: Nelson Agholor, LV
TE: Travis Kelce, KC

Extremely unheralded seasons for Patrick and Agholor, especially the much-maligned Nelson A, who went from mocking meme in Philly to a top-10 finish in DYAR in the desert. Tough luck for his Raiders teammate, Darren Waller, whose strong season was left in the dust by Kelce. The Chiefs tight end's 406 DYAR trails only Rob Gronkowski's truly insane 461 in 2011 for the highest tight end total since 1985 (as far back as our numbers go).

OT: Garrett Boles, DEN
OT: Kolton Miller, LV
OG: Dalton Risner, DEN
OG: Gabe Jackson, LV
C: Austin Reiter, KC

Miller wins out over the more heralded (and, thanks to his injury in the AFC title game, martyred) Eric Fisher of Kansas City, as only two other players had more blown blocks than the Chiefs left tackle. Reiter beats out Rodney Hudson of Las Vegas thanks to a mere four blown blocks on the season.

DEFENSE

ER: Joey Bosa, LAC
ER: Maxx Crosby, LV
DL: Chris Jones, KC
DL: Jerry Tillery, LAC

The lesser-known Double-X Crosby edged out Bradley Chubb of Denver and Frank Clark of the Chiefs thanks to unrelenting pressure (30 by our charts). Jones was third in the entire NFL in pressures, though still second to Aaron Donald among interior linemen.

LB: Kenneth Murray, LAC
LB: Josey Jewell, DEN
LB: Alexander Johnson, DEN

The fleet rookie Murray joins the Broncos' pair of tackling machines, who toiled in obscurity but played well enough to easily make the All-Div squad.

CB: Casey Hayward, LAC
CB: Bryce Callahan, DEN
CB: Bashaud Breeland, KC
S: Justin Simmons, DEN
S: Tyrann Mathieu, KC

Callahan has to make the team despite missing all or part of six games due to the fact he was outstanding when healthy (second overall in success rate), and Hayward similarly was excellent when not banged up. The safeties were easy calls, though Kareem Jackson had a hard-hitting season next to Simmons in Denver.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Brandon McManus, DEN
P: AJ Cole, LV
RET: Mecole Hardman, KC

McManus edges out Harrison Butker of Kansas City and the Raiders' Daniel Carlson. Similarly, Cole squeaks out the nod over Tommy Townsend of the Chiefs, whose Super Bowl disaster didn't help his cause. Hardman was decent in punt returning and contributed to the Chiefs' excellent kick return finish. Mention should be made of the Chargers' shambolic punting game, the worst we've ever calculated, going back to 1985. L.A managed to finish with nearly three times fewer field position points than the next worst unit in Minnesota.

Comments

13 comments, Last at 20 Mar 2021, 11:01am

1 Casey Hayward

Casey Hayward has been really excellent for a long time and has never been close to being fairly compensated for it. The Packers were stupid to not retain him at $5mil/year after his rookie contract and his second Chargers contract is still a steal at $11m/year.

2 He definitely had a rough…

In reply to by All Is On

He definitely had a rough start this year though. It almost seemed like Burrow was targeting him in the first game and Hayward couldn't do anything to stop the completions. I'm a little surprised that there weren't better corners than him because the general consensus among Chargers fans is that he has declined from his peak and is hovering around "average corner" now.

Tillery making the list is a travesty. He plays with zero leverage and gets blown up on every single running play. He managed to get a couple of sacks early in the year and then dropped off. It definitely seems like the view on him is that he is headed towards "bust" status. I think Linval Joseph played much, much better than him this year, and I would be curious to hear the reason for selecting Tillery.

3 Fisher

I guess KC read this and decided Fisher was not good enough to keep.

4 The last two seasons, the…

The last two seasons, the Chiefs were 27-1 when Fisher played and 4-6 when he didn't (including playoffs; one of those losses all the starters sat so make that 4-5 if you prefer).  The Chiefs just need decent LT play for Mahomes to succeed and Fisher gave them that.

Once he tore his Achilles and I looked at his cap numbers, I was pretty sure he was gone.  He'll be missed; it wasn't his fault that he went #1 overall.

Funny that he was the #1 pick and Chiefs fans lamented that the team got the #1 pick that year and not the season prior.  But if they had that pick and taken Luck, they wouldn't have ended up with Mahomes several years later.

10 The problem for the Chiefs.

They've cut most of their O-line now and no guarantee that they'll have better options going forward.

Teams and fans always assume they can attract FA's, but forget about the fact that every NFL team is going to be bidding for these players.

The days of waiting for bottom of the barrel FA finds like Seattle tends to do are coming to a close.  You also see how far that's gotten Seattle, right?  When you don't value O-linemen, edge rushers, your QB tends to shoulder an unnecessary amount of the burden.  The way the Seattle fiasco has played out just reaffirms how tone deaf Pete Carroll is up there.  

As a Cards fan, it's a win-win for me.  Even if Wilson stays, that teams isn't doing anything this year.  Niners still don't have a solid QB option.  Rams may lose most of their secondary in FA and no idea if Stafford will acclimate in year one.  It shapes up to be a good year.

5 Bolles

I'm still coming to grips with perennial Broncos fans' favorite whipping-boy, Garrett Bolles, being probably Denver's best player last year. 

12 The Broncos fandom was…

In reply to by BroncFan07

The Broncos fandom was always way too harsh on Bolles. He had like two rough games early in his rookie year where his performance was unusually visible to the average drunk fan, getting called for multiple false starts against the top top edge rushers like Khalil Mack IIRC, and after that the false narrative became set in stone. Even his rookie year was average on the whole IMO.

I avoid mainstream Broncos fandom these days, are people still slagging him? I wonder how many years of solid play it'll take to rehab his reputation.

6 "The first goal every NFL…

"The first goal every NFL team sets is to win its division. How those eight fratricidal battles shake out usually determines team success in any given season."

I still don't get which 8 games author refering to. There are 12 games between 4 teams in each division.

7 8? 12?

8? 12? Assuming fratricidal refers to divisional brethren it should be 6 fratricidal battles that each team has, no?

But I don't read these articles anyway (I do enjoy the alumni trophy ones) as there is not enough meat there. I came to this one to see if RaiderJoe had any comments. Alas, no.

13 I'm not an English major,…

I'm not an English major, but if you talk about "a team's success", then really only one battle is important, the other 7 are not.

What you are basically saying is that the whole season determines one team's success.

9 I guess Vince is clarifying…

I guess Vince is clarifying that the reference to 8 battles refers to the number of divisions, not the number of inter-divisional games for each team.  Still, he didn't actually say that. Nor was Rob's intent very obvious.

And why are some people struggling with the number of inter-divisional games?  Let's see -- three other teams in the division, play twice a year, 3 x 2 = . . . pudding?  (apologies to Chris Rock)  Advanced statistics, indeed.

Apologies to those I've offended, which is likely comprised of . . . everybody.