Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Oct 2012

Ray Lewis is the Greatest ILB of All-Time

Jason Lisk is right on the money here. Ray Lewis has played at a high level, close to the highest level among historical ILBs, and he's done it longer than almost anyone else. He's been slagged as "underrated" for years simply because he was a top ten player at his position instead of top three, and because if you put a microphone near him he will not shut up. At his peak, he was worth the hype. The 2000 Ravens were one of the best defenses ever (although not the best of the year by DVOA, surprisingly) but the only other player on that defense who comes close to Hall of Fame status is Rod Woodson -- who of course is already in the Hall of Fame but was 35 years old that season.

I will point out, however, that even if Ray Lewis doesn't make it back to become only the second player in NFL history to start at ILB at age 38, somebody probably will join Sam Mills in that club. London Fletcher never peaked as high as Lewis did, but he's still going strong.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 17 Oct 2012

129 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2012, 1:10pm by Anonymouser


by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 4:56pm

Maybe the 2000 Ravens were overrated?

Still, if we are limiting this to 3-4 ILB's, there is no question that Lewis is pretty much the man although there are players at similar positions in prior eras who might compete.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 9:50am

If anything, the 2000 Ravens were under-rated; people talk a lot about how bad the offense was, but that was only under Tony Banks. With even the decidedly unspectacular Trent Dilfer at quarterback, the offense was at the middle of the pack for the year -- and that's also with the four-game-with-no-TD streak numbers included.

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:03pm

think you meant "overrated"

by johnstyz (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:42pm

GOAT No way! More bark than bite!

by johnstyz (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:45pm

Even w/o teeth Lambert had more bite!!

by theslothook :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:05pm

Who would be considered in the running for better MLB or ILB? I suspect the only others are people like Butkus and Jack Lambert.

by Jerry :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:13pm

As mentioned below, Seau among his contemporaries. From the past, names that pop to mind are Nitschke and Bednarik and Joe Schmidt. Sam Huff was a guy who got a lot of publicity; I'm not sure exactly where he fits.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:42pm

When NFL Network did it's top 100 players of all time, the "highlight" reel for Huff was pathetically bad. I could have made a highlight reel for Hunter Hillenmeyer that would look more impressive. Now this may be because they don't have footage for any of his good plays, or it may be because he's just overrated.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:11pm

I didn't see that much of Mr. Huff, but for me a LOT of his status came from the memorable title of a CBS doc, narrated by Walter Cronkite,"The Violent World of Sam Huff." This was right around the time NFL football was just catching the attention of the country. The documentary and the title implanted a meme in a generation and they probably passed it on (perhaps without the title, I'm not sure anybody under 50/40 knows the title any more).

by SandyRiver :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 2:30pm

Huff's other high-profile role came when he was assigned to focus on Jim Brown, and pretty much shut Brown down (nice when a defender gets to ignore the other 10 players) in several high-leverage games in the late 1950s, and was media-lionized for that.

by JonFrum :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 4:23pm

Supposedly, a lot of guys in the league laughed at the pub Huff got, playing in New York. I saw him as a kid during the second half of his career, and I doubt he belongs in the discussion.

by Jerry :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 7:05pm

That's why I originally phrased it the way I did. I'm not surprised by the response.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:37pm

Even though pka y for chiefs W. lanier worth co sidertjon.

Ray Lewis best one in opinion. Lewis, Bruce Smith, L. Taylor best 3 defenders since mid 80s

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:43pm

RJ, you putting Bruce Smith above Reggie White?

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:25pm

Yes, smith gerat vs rub and pass. White certifiiable great too but thought a smidge below Smith. Smith devastating player.

by Dean :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 9:45am

No way. No f'n way. Not even close.

I think you have these guys backwards. At his peak, Smith was acceptable vs. the run. He's only good against the run if you're comparing him to guys like Derrick Thomas and Mark Gastineau.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:34am

Wasn't Smith a 5 technique in a 30 front? He must have been playing the run. Also getting that many sacks when playing heads up with the tackle is amazing.

by DrunkenOne :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:47pm

Reggie White?

by abc123 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:21pm

I'd definately put Reggie White above Bruce Smith, accumulator. But I'd look to Joe Schmidt, 8 all-pros, 10 pro-bowls, 13 seasons, 2 titles. Ray has 7, 13 seasons TBD and 1 title. I value all-pros over pro-bowls, particularly recently with the fan vote. I mean Michael Vick has made multiples, its a popularity contest clearly and Ray grabbed a few extra visits on that basis. Overall, I'd say Ray had 2 early seasons where he was underrated, should've been all pro in 97 for example, but also a few recently where he's been overrated. Kinda cancels out.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:53pm


by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:16pm

K. Easley actually better S than Lott. But Lott gerat of course. All timer. Sadly Easley had shirt career. If only played couple more seasojs wkhkd be mentioned as all timer great and would have been first ballot hall of famer.

Best ddfenders seen in no order
Bruce Smith
Derrick Brooks
Mike Haynes
Reggie white
D. Sanders
Rod woodson
Dan Hampton
D. Revis

Older timers
Bobby bell
And some others

H. Long

by drobviousso :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:29pm

RJ - In your opinion, how far away are Polamalu and Aaron Smith from that list? Thanks.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:11pm

A. Smith nice but not sniffing that list of mine but evehrone has own opioonion of course.

Polamalu much closer. Little too much freelancing and hurts his defense at times. Look at horrible game vs Tebow Broncs in playofofos last season. Like ed reed better. Am aware of stark diffdnrncs between steelers record with Polamaku cs without him.

by Kulko :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 4:52am

Can we just rename the Podstseason tpo playfofos for real? This fits perfectly with all the mayhem we see there each year.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:12pm

A. Smith nice but not sniffing that list of mine but evehrone has own opioonion of course.

Polamalu much closer. Little too much freelancing and hurts his defense at times. Look at horrible game vs Tebow Broncs in playofofos last season. Like ed reed better. Am aware of stark diffdnrncs between steelers record with Polamaku cs without him.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:09pm

Is that Haynes with or without the stickum?

Another potential all time great who just didn't play enough is Dave Baker who played three seasons for the 49ers. 21picks, three pro bowls and two all pros, then he retired to a higher paid job as a college athletic director. Can you imagine the contract he'd have got today?

Plus Greg Cook but then he isn't a defensive player.

by Marko :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:24pm

Mike Haynes wasn't the Raider known for using stickum. That was Lester Hayes, who was very good but not an all-time great (or greta or gerat, as Raiderjoe would say).

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:09pm

Are you sure that Haynes wasn't Hayes without the stickum?

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:22pm

F. Biletnikoff and L. Hayes heavy stickum users.

Mike Haynes top 5 CB all time. Greta man coverage skills. Check out 1983 Raiders defensive stats and game results before Haynes join team and after join team. Haynes' sensational performance was ingredient that put team over the top.

by Boots Day :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:40pm

You have Dan Hampton but not Dent or Singletary. Hampton over Dent I can see, because Dent wasn't nearly the run-stopper Hampton was, but Singletary? I have great respect for your opinion, but most Bears fans would put Singletary well above Hampton.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:29am

I think you could argue that Ed Reed belongs on that list of contemporary players. I was always a big fan of Neil Smith--love me them strip-sacks--but understand his one-dimensionality affects hig potential "greatness." Polamalu might be ahead of Reed, since I don't know that he ever had the co-starring cast Reed has had.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 2:01am

Was not total list or even in order.

Would not be bad offseason activity to create all types of top 50 lists

SAw quesuron about reed

Best safeties saw

Maybe that order but maybe want to anayllyze more

Older ones would be Ken Houston right near top. Maybe J. cHristiansen

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 8:27am

That's about how I would put Reed in comparison. Great player, but I don't think he's at Lott's level, but there is something about him that makes me have him always higher than Troy.

by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:10am

I feel like Reed has a much higher floor than Polamalu does. IE, the worst you ever see Reed look is still pretty good.

Polamalu, on the other hand, bites badly on some playfakes, occasionally misreads plays, etc, and ends up way out of position. He's disruptive when he makes the right call, but he often makes the wrong one.

I feel like Polamalu might be the better athlete/physical player, but Reed does the mental stuff better.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:26pm

I was too young to evaluate players in Samurai Mike's heyday, but I can tell you that my dad-a lifelong Bears fan in his late 60's-has always said that he was overrated. He would take Wilbur Marshall over Singletary.

by allybhoy :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 8:37am

not Bears fan, but was around for the early eighties IMO Hampton was THE player on that defence.....

by duh :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 4:45pm

It is odd ... this came up in Belichick's press conference today ... he was responding to a question about the why there isn't more 46 defense and he went on to talk about the 46 being tough to play against a single back offense but he also had this to say:

"Now, plus the fact [Ryan] had Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, [Otis] Wilson, [Wilbur] Marshall, that was a pretty good group there. You could have probably played a lot of things and that defense would have looked pretty good, especially when they put Hampton on the nose. That was pretty unblockable."

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:21pm

Singletary vs Hampton comparison is difficult. My opinion, having seen perhaps half their games, the only slightly injured Hampton (pre 87 say) was significantly better than Singletary. One tiny observation, Singletary couldn't seem to stop Washington in the playoffs from running over the Bears right side (Dent), but they couldn't run Hampton's way. With two functional knees, Hampton was almost as good a pass rusher as Dent and Mongo.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:09am

Not this Bear fan. Love Samurai Mike but I wouldn't put him above Ulracher, let alone Hampton. Great leader, face of the 46 defense, definite run-stopper, but pretty much useless in coverage. Also, not sure how important this really is, but jsut looking at his stats: zero forced fumbles.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:23am

What are your thoughts on Ed Reed? I'm too young to have seen Lott. To me, Reed's the best safety I've seen (again, since 1999). I think his career will always be a little underrated because of playing with Ray.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:30am

Dude, funny that you posted this as I was wrting much the same thing.

by theslothook :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 5:53am

Raider Joe, why are there absolutely 0 modern defense ends making your list? I haven't watched football for very long(started in 98), but I think I can name a couple that seem pretty damn hard to top even by old timer standards: Justin Smith, for instance, julius peppers, jared allen, dware, and Michael Strahan. Then there's people like Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson(before he became overrated), Ty law, Rodney Harrison, dwight freeney, Jason Taylor, etc. I know the 2000 era feels like a water downed version for nfl defenses, but there were still some extremely gifted defensive players in this decade.

Even if I were to use the strictest of standards- Michael Strahan, Jared Allen, and Julius Peppers would all be on my all time list. They really were dynamic game changing edge rushers.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 9:07am

I'm going to chuck another name in, Bryant Young.

I've been watching the NFL properly for just over twenty years and I don't think there has been as good an interior lineman as BY. Of the really good run defenders, none rushed the passer like he did and out of the really good pass rushers, none are remotely in his class. Tommie Harris might have had a shot if he'd have stayed healthy and JJ Watt could have a very good case in ten years but for me BY currently stands apart.

What really bugs me is that I think Warren Sapp is going to get into the Hall first. Their pass rush records are virtually identical and BY was the vastly superior run defender but because the pro bowl is a popularity contest and the HOF voters are frankly not qualified to tie their own shoe-laces it is likely that Sapp will get in as a first ballot while Young is not even a certainty to make it at all.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 9:29am

Ohh that's a good one, and I'm on board with you on the Sapp part of it too. I would have rather had BY on the Packers than Sapp. Sapp was good, and I saw him change games with his play, but so could Young, and Young didn't disappear like could happen with Sapp.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 10:09am

Was not full or through lits

Was kind of like listing first names come to minf.

Great ends of new times


B. Young
More and maybe those two groups are not best two but

Have to go but if get chance to sit down and rank would/will do

by Roch Bear :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:27am

Candidate: Ted Washington (stats, not great; play, great)

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 2:20pm

My opinion on Super Ted is that he was the finest run defender in the NFL for a decade and a half, while anchoring some of the finest units of his era. He could actually be the greatest run stuffing nose tackle of all time, which would put him in contention as the best run defender of all time. He was very one dimensional (It seems slightly odd to describe one of the most massively three dimensional people I've ever seen as one dimensional) but he dominated in that area as well as anyone.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:12am

How about Cortez Kennedy?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:08am

To be honest, when Kennedy was playing at his best I just didn't have access to more than one game a week with a highlights show on top, on rare occasions we'd get treated to two games. The games would tend to be the best games of the week and so you just didn't see much of Seattle whereas you could expect to see the 90s 49ers five times in the regular season. We were so starved for football that I used to tape the 49er games and other good matchups so we could watch them over and over again.

And Kennedy is in the Hall, I just want BY to follow him and I feel that it would be nice if he could beat Sapp to it, Sapp always got more attention.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:10am

No Mel Blount?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:39pm

I always kind of hated Ray Lewis because he over shadowed Urlacher so much, who is a great MLB in his own right. No denying that he is a great player though.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:33pm

I kinda felt that way too. There was an interview in the Ravens' glory days where Lewis even refused to say that Urlacher was second to him. I also hate the mic'd up woofing, pre-game dance, LOOK AT ME I'M A LEADER schtick.

Still, he is better than Urlacher. Even in 54's prime, he was too easy to block. I'll never forget the game where the Lions ran for more yards than any Bears opponent in history. Cory Schlessinger repeatedly blasted Urlacher out of the hole. I swear, it seemed like Schlessinger knocked him backwards faster than he ran in.

by Dean :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 2:08pm

Urlacher always had great range. He could go sideline to sideline, and could get great depth in the passing game. It's fair to call him one of the all time greats. But he's no Ray Lewis. You hit it dead-on. You can block Brian Urlacher. It's a function of size. He was a safety in college. You get a guard out on him and he gets blocked and stays blocked. Granted, with his speed, that's not the easiest thing in the world to do. Lewis, on the other hand, could do everything Urlacher (in their primes) could do and could shed blocks too.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 3:12pm

Urlacher was a safety in college but he was still 6'4" and 258lbs. He hadn't had to take on blockers much in New Mexico's system so had to learn once he got into the league. When asked he always says he needed to learn to use his hands better.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:24pm

Seems Urlacher is a better pass defender and not as good against the run.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:40pm

2000 ravens played 4-3. McCrary and someone I don't remember at end, Siragussa and Sam Adams at tackles. Boulware, Lewis and Sharper were the linebackers.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:24pm

R. Burnett other end

by abc123 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:27pm

Rob Burnett was the other end and had perhaps the best year of his career despise being a few years removed from his physical prime.

The key was the 43 with the two road graders in the middle. The defense was designed to keep blockers off Ray and let him run to the ball, which he did excellently. He was a truly unique combination of speed, point of attack power, and diagnostic ability. In recent years each of the first two have dropped off faster than his diagnostic ability has increased. Ergo 2012 Ray.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:54pm

McAllister was a decent corner too.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:53pm

Yep, the 2000 Ravens were lucky to have someone of Siragusa's weight to drive Rich Gannon into the turf in the AFC championship game


by Theo :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 5:45pm

What I'm saying is that they might not be HOF and I couldn't tell you who was the other safety. But 2 experienced and enormous tackles - Sam Adams has been one of the better nose tackles of the league in his career... 2 ends that can hold their ground and then 3 play making linebackers behind it; that was just a perfect mix at the time.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:12pm

Derrick Brooks maybe - if you count him as a ILB?

Brooks is basically only beaten by career length (although Lewis only have four more games than the ironman Brooks).

FWIW pfr search for ILB/OLB with career AV above 150:


by James-London :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:13pm

I thought of Brooks, but didn't he play WLB most of his career?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:17pm

Yes, almost exclusively.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:20pm

I wish pfr let you search by weighted career av.

by James-London :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:13pm

I'm not remotely qualified to judge older players (Singletary, Lambert, etc), but who from his own era is even close?
Seau maybe? I'd say he's probably the nearest thing. Urlacher, Zach Thomas & London Fletcher, were/are all great players, and the round out a pretty freakin' good top-5, but Lewis is head and shoulders above them.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by abc123 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:30pm

Drain had more career stuffs (tackles of runners in the backfield) than Ray. It's probably a good proxy for defeats. I'm trying to get the complete defeat data on Drain, probably he and Brooks are the only recent guys comparable.

by abc123 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:31pm

Ok my phone thinks Seau is drain, so that has to count against him.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 6:36pm

Do you have the numbers for stuffs? Because Ray Lewis has a lot more interceptions, 31 vs 18, and a lot more fumbles forced 19 vs 11. That probably makes up for a deficit in stuffs.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:32am

You (and your phone) had me wondering there for a while....

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:09pm

My sense with Seau was that he picked up a lot of those defeats by freelancing and getting himself out of his assigned position. Obviously he was intelligent enough to freelance effectively, but I'd call Lewis a more 'sound' player, who also had tremendous playmaking ability, particularly in coverage.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:27pm

I'm always curious about where Farrior fits in with this conversation. With the exception of INTs (Which I admit is a big thing) Farrior and Lewis were almost identical from both a stat and a what-kind-of-team-and-talent-did-they-play with. Lewis was obviously better than Farrior, but look at their similarity scores.

And yet, I never hear Farrior mentioned as one of the best I/MLBs of the last decade.

Full disclosure: Steelers fan.

by allybhoy :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 8:42am

Disclaimer: Jet

Farrior is a great player and you'd want him on your team, but he's just not at the level of Lewis. That doesn't really answer your question but as a fan of neither team i know which i'd rather have my OL facing.

by drobviousso :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:01am

Right, like I said, Lewis was better. I mean why isn't Farrior up there with Urlacher, Zach Thomas & London Fletcher in people's minds?

by Jimmy :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 12:15pm

I though Farrior was a fantastic player and I would put him alongside Thomas and Fletcher. I wouldn't put him near Lewis or Urlacher though.

by Jerry :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 7:03pm

Farrior was never very flashy, and there were enough other good players around him in that defense that he was easy to overlook from a national recognition point of view. Those of us who saw a lot of him know that he was an integral part of a terrific defense.

by allybhoy :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:41am

This is the answer i wanted to write.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:27pm

If we're speaking Dolphins only, Zach, Buoniconti or Offerdahl?

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:05pm

The arguments in that article are pretty weak, Lambert played with too many HOFers but also won four Superbowls, in his own damn chart Bill George made more all pro teams with fewer years and most Bears fans wouldn't put him as the greatest Bears' MLB. Also many of his all pro years and pro bowls were reputation selections and the longevity argument is a premise that many don't accept.

It's often forgotten that Lewis didn't immediately hit his stride as one of the best like say Patrick Willis or even Urlacher (who took a year to start to dominate).

Lewis has also benefited from a team that has looked to protect him for most of his career, he played two years in a 3-4, suffering shoulder injuries both years before the Ravens moved to a 46, which is probably the defense which protects the MLB the most (at least according to Rex Ryan).

I'm not even sure he's a better player than Urlacher, who does things that probably only Lambert or Bill George could have done in terms of dropping deep into that zone.

If you are willing to look past all that then Lisk probably has some tasty Kool aid.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:30pm

I have to disagree with the assertion that Lambert won four Superbowls. And therefore, I don't think that stat has any value in this conversation.

That's all I've got. I never saw him play.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:07am

The top line of his wikipedia page:

"John Harold "Jack" Lambert (born July 8, 1952) is a former NFL linebacker in American football. He was a member of four winning Super Bowl teams in his 11 year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers"

So I'm having difficulty grasping the point you're trying to make, unless you are saying that he doesn't deserve to be credited for winning them on his own, which would be pedantic in the extreme but I suppose this is an FO discussion board.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 4:00pm

I don't think it's pathetic in the extreme. What if I said the Pittsburgh punter won 4 Superbowls and so he is one of the best ever? It's completely different if you say he was part of a Superbowl team. Then you don't know what his level of contribution was. When you say he won them, you imply he was the driving force behind the achievement. And if you do mean that, then that's what you ought to say. I think a lot of people would disagree, however, that Steeler team being full of Hall of Famers and all.

So, you might think it's nitpicking, but I think your using those particular words gives the impression that your argument is stronger than it really is.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 4:08pm

But don't you know, Adam Vinatieri is the best kicker of all time because he won 4 Superbowls.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 4:29pm

Pedantic. Not pathetic.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 5:15pm

I hate to be pedantic but I wrote pedantic not pathetic. The article disregarded Lambert simply because he had good players around him, basically selecting the most favourable statistics for his argument.

It might be a little sloppy but you often read sentences such as 'Bill Walsh won three superbowls with the 49ers', I don't think my usage is that wrong. If somebody asked 'did Eli Manning win two superbowls?', I think most people would say 'yes'.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:14am

Sorry about my pathetic reading skills. I'm fine with saying "so and so won Superbowls" as long as it isn't used as an argument of player superiority, as in "How can you bench Mark Sanchez when he's won so many playoff games?"

The problem is the Superbowl is the ultimate accomplishment, so saying a player deserves certain status because he won a Superbowl is basically the end of the argument. What can you say to that? Only thing you can reply is "no, he didn't", which then comes off as pedantic.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:39pm

If you think the Ravens played a 46 under Rex Ryan then you didn't watch any of the games I'd imagine.

Hmmm..., did the Ravens protect Ray Lewis in 03 with a defensive line of Kelly Gregg, Marques Douglas, and Anthony Weaver, when the Ravens had the top defensive DVOA in the league?

Anyhow, the idea that Urlacher is better is mystifying to me. He's a great player who's thrived in an effective scheme, whereas Ray Lewis has been the unquestioned leader and best player of a 4-3 and 3-4 under 5+ defensive coordinators. Way more versatile than Urlacher, and way more impactful.

If Brady and Manning get credit for the offenses they run, then Lewis should get credit for running the Ravens defense at an elite level for 12 years. That's especially crazy when considering how much defensive DVOA fluctuates from year to year for ALL other teams except the Ravens (and kinda the Steelers too. Bears get respect, though, they are pretty good). Ray Lewis is the only constant from all the years from a personnel and coaching standpoint.

And Lewis was inured in 2005 with a hamstring injury, not shoulder. Seems like you're playing pretty loose with the facts to make your point, I wonder why.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 9:17am

Rex Ryan disagrees with your first sentence, in his book, if Suggs puts his hand on the ground then they were in a 46 (or Ryan family defense, or whatever you want to call it) front. Don't get too obsessed with the front seven's stances, look at their gap alignments and the coverage schemes behind them.

As for why Lewis gets extra credit for playing in more schemes I am bemused. Did either Urlacher or Lewis ever choose the schemes they play in? Besides which Urlacher has played in one gap and two gap schemes and was dominant in both. I would argue that Lewis has only ever played in two gap systems and is therefore inherently the less versatile player. Lewis has not been asked to drop to and cover the deep middle whilst also plugging an A gap at the line. Could Lewis reliably do this even at his peak? Urlacher does (certainly did) better than any other MLB in history. I really don't see the evidence for Lewis being more versatile, to me it is clear that Urlacher was.

Tampa2 teams are supposed to be weak against the run, especially up the middle yet for a dozen years the Bears hae been one of the toughest teams to run on up the middle. The only year this fell away was the year Urlacher missed.

by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:01am

Well lets see, Lewis has 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, one at MLB in a 4-3 and one at ILB in a 3-4. List of players with 2 DPOY awards:

Joe Green
Lawrence Taylor
MIke Singletary
Bruce Smith
Reggie White

That's elite company, to do that in different schemes is unprecedented. I couldn't think of two more different defensive styles then the 2000 Ravens (beefy and awesome up front) and the 2003 Ravens (pure speed, very average and light up front). What can you tell me about the gap integrity of the 03-04 team? I did a quick search and found that Mike Nolan is known as 1-gap guy, so I'm assuming that's what they ran then. So I guess that means Ray Lewis is inherently more versatile, since he played in more defenses types and performed at a higher level.

I don't mean to take anything away from Urlacher, who has been great.

And I'm sure Rex says a lot of things in his book, fortunately I didn't read it :) But I guess if you want to get technical about it, any time a team brings a safety into the box they are playing some version of a 46. The base D of Rex Ryan was always a 3-4, but it shifted into many, many variations, including the 46. If anything that's another feather in Ray's cap, that he was the leader of one of the most complex and hybrid defensive systems in the league. Urlacher has played his position great for a while, but he has been in a fairly simple system for most his career, even though things have changed a bit the past couple years.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:32am

And I'm sure Rex says a lot of things in his book, fortunately I didn't read it :) But I guess if you want to get technical about it, any time a team brings a safety into the box they are playing some version of a 46.

This isn't true. The 46 is a whole defensive system, not just playing a box safety. The Ryan book I am talking about is his, 'How to coach the 46 defense' not any autobiography about foot licking and such. Since you seem to be banging on about how it makes him extra versatile you really should read the coaching book as you would learn how simple Ryan's defense makes lining up, especially for a MLBer. Also all the adjustments are based upon simple rules to avoid confusion. A lot of what fans see as complication is in fact window dressing to make something look more complicated than it actually is.

And your two more different styles would be Greg Blache's two gap 43 with the heaviest front seven I have ever seen (Daniels, Washington, Traylor, Robinson, Colvin, Urlacher and Holdman - the LDE played most of his career later on as a NT) and Lovie Smith's one gap pursuit based 43. As different as different gets.

You might love Ray Ray but the evidence that he is more versatile and better than Urlacher isn't there. It is just your opinion.

by ElJefe :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:38am

Winning DPOY at "two positions" isn't actually unprecedented. The first win for Reggie White was as a 3-4 DE and the second was as a 4-3 DE. The difference in skill set for those two positions is comparable to the difference between ILB and MLB.

Overeducated Layabout

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:12pm

Reggie won DPOY in 87 with Philly and 98 with Green Bay.

87: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/1987_roster.htm looks like a 4-3 not a 3-4.
98: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/1998_roster.htm I know they played a 4-3 that year.

Now White did play in a 3-4 and did go to a Pro Bowl as a 3-4 end since the 93 Packers were 3-4 his first year there, but they switched to a 4-3, in part to utilize Reggie better.

I'm not sure White played in a 3-4 for a full season any other year, I thought Philly was always a 4-3 while he was there.

Full disclosure, I love Reggie White. I still think he is the best defensive player I have ever seen (I'm not that old so only really been paying much attention since about 85 or so). Some of that was seeing him more often than other greats, but I still saw him do things on the field that I've yet to see any other player do, or come close to. I've seen guys play as fast as Deion Sanders and make crazy interceptions like he did, though never as consistently, and I've seen punt/kick returners do what he did. I've seen huge guys move as fast as Bruce Smith could, though again not as consistently and Bruce was still special. Reggie's ability to play anywhere on the line (like Julius Peppers does) just seemed to be a better combination of speed and power than Smith had (he wasn't as quick or agile but he just seemed more powerful), and seeing him just destroy linemen, sometimes one handed, I've just never seen that from anyone else.

So he was versatile but he didn't win DPOY in two different schemes unless I and PFR are confused on the defense Philly played.

by ElJefe :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:48pm

Ah. You are correct. Reggie played in a 3-4 as a rookie in 1985, but 1987 was the 2nd year of Buddy Ryan.

Overeducated Layabout

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:00am

Firstly, I'd like to clarify that my comment on Urlacher's uniqueness was based on his ability to drop deep into the middle of the field in that Tampa 2 while running at 6'4" and 255 lbs. That's just freakish and only Lambert comes close at his ability to do that. I think the two guys are close, I'd probably shade for Lewis but I think he gets more hype. Also the Bears weren't a Tampa 2 in their first 13-3 season, where the defense was built in a similar manner to the 4-3 of the 2000 Ravens.

Quoting DPY awards is a little suspect, they're very dependent on the quality of support and to a great extent on hype. I can remember Peter King supporting players because their team was winning, which is pretty irrelevant as to the quality of an individual player.

You should read Ryan's book on the 46 defense, it's not expensive and is a very good primer but you will notice that it has a picture of the Baltimore Ravens on the cover. While a lot of the content deals with college concepts and uses a great deal more SS blitzes than you'll see from the Ravens (though Rex used a lot of that stuff with the Jets over the previous two or three years), that is probably due to the Ravens being able to generate pressure with their four man rush.

I'd like to be diplomatic but bringing a safety into the box does not make it a 46. It's about using the big three linemen to control the area between the tackles through alignment, using a series of complementary looks to alternatively pressure and confuse the quarterback and is primarily based on man free and cover 3 coverages that are designed to look identical.

I'd advise everyone to read the book, it's very good and then when you watch a Ryan family defense you start seeing what is actually going on. For instance I was able to understand the reads that Demarcus Ware was making when he peeled off after Frank Gore to bat down that pass last year, along with why Smith didn't expect him to be there. It also helped me to understand why the niners had such trouble with the single scheme against the Ravens last year, the ravens were running green dogs across the board, meaning that the more blockers the niners used, the worse things got for them. You'll see that Revis island is more of a peninsula with surrounding reefs and treacherous storms. The book really did help me.

Nolan has run quite a few different looks, they were in a reasonably conventional 3-4 in Baltimore and Lewis had his worst years and got hurt.

by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:10pm

Ok thanks for the feedback guys.

First off, Ray Lewis probably had his 2nd best year in 2003 with Nolan's 3-4, not his worst years. That's when he won the 2nd DPOY award. He got hurt in 02 and 05 (under Rex Ryan).

And OK, so Ryan did coach the 46 in Baltimore along with the 3-4. So I guess that makes Ray Lewis a dominant defensive player in a 4-3 with Marvin Lewis, a 3-4 with Mike Nolan, and 46 with Rex Ryan. Still pretty versatile. Granted he never did the whole A-gap/deep coverage thing that Urlacher did or play in a Tampa 2.

Didn't know Reggie White won the DPOY as a 3-4 end and 4-3 end. So I guess what Ray did was not unprecedented, its only ever been done before by Reggie White. I think DPOY of the year award is pretty tough to win, it isn't a pro bowl or something. I've never heard of someone winning the award on hype, or heard any complaints about that when it given out. That 03 defense lead by Lewis was pretty amazing, considering the team gutted the roster in 2002 and it came from out of nowhere with a lot of unheralded players at the time. A very young Suggs and Reed, McCalister playing lights out. And Kyle freaking Boller running the offense as a rookie.

"You might love Ray Ray but the evidence that he is more versatile and better than Urlacher isn't there. It is just your opinion." Yes, well its actually impossible to determine who is better, thats why throwing around opinions is fun to do. I'm trying to come up with reasons why I intuitively think Ray Lewis is better, but ultimately that intuition might be wrong because there's no logical way to prove it. Ultimately we'll see if Urlacher is a first ballot HOFer, I don't know if that's a valid criterion as well, but I'm sure Lewis will be a unanimous choice.

I went ahead and did some per game averages on Lewis and Urlacher for fun, Lewis gets more INTs, forced fumbles, and tackles per game, but Urlacher does have more sacks. In team stats, the Ravens DVOA from 1996 was (29, 13, 13, 1, 2, 6, 1, 2, 6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 6, 1), the Bears from 2000 was (19, 6, 23, 16, 9, 1, 2, 10, 7, 21-inj, 4, 4).

INT: .136
FF: .083
T: 6.9
S: .182

INT: .12
FF: .051
T: 5.79
S: .237

So I don't know, if you look at the raw evidence, Ray Lewis wins in tackles, forced fumbles, interceptions, was the leader of better defenses, won a super bowl, super bowl MVP, won more defensive player of the year awards, and played in more defensive schemes. Urlacher had more sacks. Its just my opinion that Ray Lewis is better, but unfortunately for you there's no way anyone will think Urlacher is at his level because there isn't any evidence suggesting otherwise. It remains to be seen what Urlacher will do over the next couple of years, of course.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:53pm

Most of your arguments seem to be with someone else but I'd like to clarify why I don't think that DPY is particularly strong evidence, I just think it's too subjective. Take 2003, Lewis had a great year but the award could easily have gone to Michael Strahan. Is Strahan's year any worse as a result of the award going to Lewis? Not in my opinion and similarly, Lewis' year isn't any better because a bunch of writers decided to vote for one guy over the other.

As for the first ballot thing, that will be dogged by Urlacher being criticised for running around blocks in his first two years, which he did, a bit, in his first two years. This was then parroted by talking heads for half a decade which lead to him being underrated while being accused of being overrated by people who then cited that he ran around blocks as the justification for him being overrated long after he had rectified that flaw in his game.

On the other hand Lewis has been followed by a mystique that was only partially deserved. Commentators used to credit him with tackles for running up after the fact, jumping on the pile and then celebrating in his rather bad ass style (the opposite of the understated Urlacher). I can still remember him getting trucked by Steve McNair and then getting up and dancing like he hadn't just been run over by a quarterback. In my mind they are both first balloters and I'd even agree that Lewis is probably a shade ahead, I do have problems comparing him to a player half a century earlier like Butkus (who would have played longer today with better healthcare but also would have been flagged for an illegal hit on every other play).

by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:12pm

I think they are both awesome players, both HOFers and both different players too. It does wind me up a bit that some folk simply state that Lewis was the better player and the evidence for this seems to be that Urlacher 'wasn't the best LBer because he played at the same time as Lewis,' which is awfully circular (not neccessarily accusing you of this). For whatever reason pundits make an awful lot of lazy arguments against Urlacher especially at the start of his career saying he didn't take on blocks and stuff like that. It was generally born out of one or two plays where he simply ran straight past a blocker who was unable to cope with his speed.

If I have a problem with Lewis it would be too much rah rah. I remember Lewis getting run over by Stever McNair, McNair lowered his shoulder and flattened him but Lewis jumped up and started pumping his arms like he had been the one doing the trucking. What was that about? I prefer Urlacher's 'just jog back to the huddle and call the next play approach'.

In all you are correct that it is supposed to be a fun discussion though. Still I have to stand up for 54.

by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:17pm

I've been sick of Ray's pregame speeches and rah rah antics for awhile, but part of it is that anytime the Ravens are on primetime TV the broadcasts always make a point to focus on the pregame hype. Ray Lewis does it when the cameras are on and off him, its not just for show. And as silly as I think it looks sometimes, his teammates seem to eat it up, which is really the only intent of his actions.

I admit I favor the humble approach like Urlacher as well. And Lewis's antics might rub people the wrong way. But it doesn't have anything to do with football per se, because everyone seems to think Lewis is the consummate teammate and team player. If he was perceived as a selfish player that would be another thing, but he is about as universally respected as they come in football circles.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:43pm

Well, in the fine tradition of board commenters asking someone else to do a lot of hard work with numbers; anybody want to 'seat race' Urlacher vs. Ray? One could compare the Bear games Defensive DVOA with Url and without Url. The difference would be contrasted to the Raven games D DVOA with vs without Ray. A difference of differences. Probably not enough games missed by either to make a convincing case, but it would be a start.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:24am

"Quoting DPY awards is a little suspect, they're very dependent on the quality of support and to a great extent on hype."

Charles Woodson over Darrell Revis in 2009. 'Nuff Said!

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by langsty :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:22pm

Wait a second. Has DVOA been changed, or did TEN always have a higher defensive dvoa than BAL in 2000? I could've sworn that wasn't always the case...

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:35pm

Tennessee got a big jump from DVOA 7.0, but it looks like even before then they were above Baltimore.


by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 10:42pm

Part of Baltimore's legacy in 2000 isn't just the regular season, but postseason. I've never seen offenses happier to get off the field, it was an amazing 4 game stretch.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:26am

Their playoff run was just ridiculous.

They held the #3 DVOA offense to 3 points in the Wild Card game, held #6 OAK to 3 points on the road in the title game (Gannon leaving the game didn't help), and the #8 Giants to 0 on offense in the Super Bowl.

The 2002 Bucs were similar, holding the #3 offense to 6, the #10 offense (PHI) to 10, but 7 was off of a short field (20 yard drive), and then the #2 in OAK to 15 points on offense, and led them 34-3.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 12:40am

If you read those stats in a book or they were merntioned in a movie, you'd say, "No way! Too corny! Unrealistic!" It really is hard to believe. I would put an asterisk next to the Bucs' SB stats, however, since they benefited from some insider trading (and the Raiders' coach was too stupid to change their audibles despite plaYing his former boss in the FREAKIN' SUPER BOWL!!!). That's another bit of history that you'd see unfolding in a movie and say "No way, the guy can't be that stupid, can he? Oh wait, I see, he'll change all the calls before the second half and spring his sinister trap." (facepalm) "No? Good Lord...."

by ElJefe :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:35am

If you think that is impressive, check out the '85 Bears run in the playoffs: shutout the Giants, shutout the Rams, give up 10 to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Oh, and the Bears defense scored 16 pts that postseason. Yup, the Bears D scored more points than they allowed!

Overeducated Layabout

by SandyRiver :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:10am

And the Pats' 10 consisted of a figgie off Payton's fumble in his own red zone at the opening, and a garbage time TD while 41 pts down. In essence, the Bears' D pitched 3 postseason shutouts, including the most dominant (IMO) SB beatdown of them all.

by Marko :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 2:06pm

And the garbage time TD came with the backups in the game while the starters celebrated on the sidelines. Of course, the backups weren't too shabby, as they added a safety for the last points of the game, and a backup CB had earlier scored a TD on a pick-6.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:47am

That was obviously incredible. I just wanted to point out that the '00 Ravens and '02 Bucs did it to pretty darn good offenses as well.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:00am

The 85 Giants scored 399 points, 6th in the NFL. But unlike 54(!!!!) of the Bears' 456, 21 of the Chargers' 467, 16 of the Bengals' 441, 14 of the Dolphins' 428 and 16 of the Niners' 411, every single one of those 399 was scored on offense. So they were the 5th-scoring offense in the NFL. So that's a pretty darn good offense I'd say.

But what REALLY jumped out at me looking this up is how much the Bears offense scored that year (although I'm sure a there were a lot of short fields, but still....).

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 8:08am

The problem I have with Lewis was captured in an NFL Films show covering the best defenses of all time. They interviewed Lewis to represent the '00 Ravens, Singletaey for the '86 Bears and Mel Blount for the '78 Steelers.
Through the entire show EVERY time Blount talked about his team he said '...they..." Singletaey said "...we..." and Lewis said "...I..."

by Anger...rising (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 9:40pm

If Al del Greco could make a kick, no one would hold this opinion.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:02am

OK, you lost me. Why?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:57am

I think his implication is that the Titans would have beat the Ravens in the playoffs, thus Ray Lewis would never have won a Superbowl, and thus wouldn't be considered this great.

by theslothook :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 5:49am

Reading the comments, I think there are two things we should make clear. Its freaken hard to actually rate mlb's in the first place. Much like guards, centers and dtackles- there really aren't many nominal stats(ie-sacks, passing yards, tds, etc) that can actually paint a good picture. Tackles are meaningless, so lets start by saying, our opinions are id say 90 percent subjective.

One issue is, its not clear to me Lewis was better than urlacher in everything. They played different schemes and I suppose, if we were to rate people based off scheme independence, Lewis was more well rounded. But Urlacher is built to stop the modern passing games. In his heyday, he had incredible speed to deep drop and really played the zone schemes well. Its a trait I'm not sure lewis ever possessed, which is why I myself am partial to Urlacher(even though I concede lewis was the better player).

by Jerry Garcia (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 8:58am

Forgive me -I am a simple man. But I'm surprised Gastineau isn't in the conversation with great defensive players. His job was to sack the QB. And he did it more effectively than anyone else, for a very long time (until Favre flopped anyway).

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 9:14am

Have you actually looked at Gastineau's stats? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Gastineau

He had a good six year window from 1980-85 with '81,'83,'84 being exceptional.

Bear in mind that Reggie White had 21 sacks in 12 games in '87 where Gastineau took 16 games to get his 22. I have no doubt that in a full season Reggie would have taken that title from him.

by Dean :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 9:24am

Even before you get to the fact that Gastineau was a 1 dimensional player, selfish about the pass rush to the point of being a complete and utter liability against the run - before you get to that you have to get to the fact that he was a defensive end, and the article was talking about inside linebackers.

by Jerry Garcia (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 1:16pm

I know.. I know.. but people did mention defensive players that were some of the best ever.. besides Line backers. Safeties were discussed, etc. My only point is that Gastineau's sack record stood for a long time, and would probably still be in tact today if it weren't for Favre rolling over for Michael Strahan. & Strahan had a heck of a year - but Gastineau was a terror, a QB killer. And I remember him tackling running backs for a loss on the opposite side of the field! He could line up at left end, get in the back field and catch running backs on the right side before they could turn the corner. I think people forget how effective he was at sacking the QB, he was a beast, a very fast beast.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 2:09pm

I don't think you can complain about Favre rolling over for Michael Strahan to lose the sack record but then ignore Reggie White's 21 in 12 games in '87 ... it's not like he even had one or two big games ... he was just consistently getting a sack or two each game.

Fact is that sacks are just harder to come by in this day and age. It's not that players aren't as good, just the offenses scheme to protect the QB better (unless you're Mike Martz) and to get rid of the ball quicker.

by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:39am

87 was also the year Jerry Rice had 22 touchdowns in 12 games, which makes me think that White's 21 sacks were as much a product of the particularities of the strike season as they were talent.

I think the argument that he would have blown by 21 had their been 16 games is probably false. If there were 16 games, he probably would have been playing against more well prepared opponents.

by joebarnin :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 3:21pm

Lewis is certainly one of the top two NFL players ever found not guilty of murder.

by Dean :: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 4:04pm

Yawn. Here we go again. In order for your statement to be correct, he would have at some point have to have been tried for murder. Please provide some evidence that this happened rather than just shooting your mouth off.

by Roch Bear :: Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:41am

Ah, the law. Technically, I believe, he was indicted for murder but reached an agreement to testify for the state and plead guilty to a less charge (obstruction of justice). That's close to what I read the original poster as meaning.

by joebarnin :: Sun, 10/21/2012 - 2:11pm

Indeed, my statement was inaccurate, and for that I apologize. A more accurate statement is that "Ray Lewis is certainly one of the top two NFL players ever indicted for murder but never convicted of it." Happy now? I'm sure Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar would appreciate the difference, if they were alive.

by Anonymouser (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:10pm

Great point.

by willisisgod (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2012 - 9:07pm

Looking at the AV for the '07 draft class is illuminating. Patrick Willis is number just ahead of Revis and way ahead of AP. If he keeps this up he could be right there with Ray and Brian. How bad do Raiders fans feel? Picked Russel ahead of 3 probable HOFers in the first round-yikes.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:48am

*Ahem* Four. And I'd say that, barring injury, Patrick Williis, Darrell Revis, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson are all pretty clearly heading for the Hall. And those are only the near-locks.

The 07 draft includes Joe Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Jon Beason, LaMarr Woodley, Leon Hall, Eric Weddle, Dwayne Bowe, Lawrence Timmons, Joe Staley, David Harris, Paul Poslunzky, James Jones, Ahmad Bradshaw and Micheal Bush (although to be fair, the Raiders did get him).

Of course, also to be fair, it was probably the most dreadful QB class I can remember. Your career AV "leaders" (and I use that word VERY loosely. As in, anyone who has positive career AV) for the '07 QB class are (in order): Trent Edwards (18), Kevin Kolb (10), Tyler Thigpen (10), JaMarcus Russell (7), Troy Smith (6), John Beck(4), Drew Stanton (4) and Brady Quinn (3).

That's right. JaMarcus Russell, arguably the worst #1 overall pick ever comes in at #4 in his QB class. And when he retired, he was 3rd (Kolb had only 3 AV in his first 3 years combined).

But seriously, I can't imagine there's EVER been a worse QB class. Trent Edwards' AV (for his 1st through 4th years) would make him A VERY distant tie for 3rd with Chad Henne in 08, 4th in 09, and tied for 4th with Blaine Gabbert in '11. Yes, Blaine Gabbert.

But what about 2010, you say? Well, looks like I found the second-worst QB class of recent memory, because, after two years in the league, Trent Edwards' 13 AV would have him first, one point ahead of Sam Bradfford.

Of course, when 2010 is saved by their "depth" consisting of Tim Tebow (11), Colt McCoy (10), John Skelton (6) and Rusty Smith (1), that just tells you how epically bad 07 was.

And speaking of epically bad, Rusty Smith, he of the 1 career games started (4 played), 23 of 45 for 234 yards, 0 TDs and 4 INTs and 1 sack has one more career AV than Jimmy Clausen.


- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:02am

OK, I have enough faith in Bradfford to say that the class 2010 will eventually surpass the class of 1996: Tony Banks (42), Danny Kanell (13), Bobby Hoying (3) and Jeff Lewis (2) (of course, people knew back then this class was rubbish, as there wasn't a QB taken until the 42nd pick).

And even 1997: Jake Plummer (77), Danny Wuerffel (6), Koy Detmer (4), Tony Graziani (3), and Jim Drukenmiller (1). Although I am 100% certain no class will EVER surpass 1997 as the QB class with the most uncommon last names ever.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs