It’s the middle of the 2009 NFL football season and time to make my midseason NFL All Pro selection. As always, some players on this list might not make the cut by the end of the season, and some players who have been injured and did not make it this time around may end up on the team at the end of the year (like Troy Polamalu).
The top players on the list are the starters and the second players are backups.
2009 ALL PRO TEAM DEFENSE
DE: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
DE: Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers
DE: Aaron Schobel, Buffalo Bills’
DE: Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts
Jared Allen is the most dominant defensive player in the league today. He has owned the line scrimmage and is part of the reason why the Minnesota Vikings defense is so good. He is the type of defensive player than can dominate a game on his own.
After Allen I actually found it hard to pick other defensive linemen in general. I have heard much talk about the so called down year Julius Peppers is having but I don’t see it. He’s still one of the elite defensive ends in the league.
I have also been very impressed every time I have seen Aaron Schobel play. He always seems to be in the thick of things, disrupting the offense.
Finally, I really hate to put Dwight Freeney on this squad because he is awful against the run. But he is a pass rushing machine and in a league dominated by the pass, he’s a great asset.
DT: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens
DT: Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers
DT: Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings
DT: Chris Hovan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Haloti Ngata has really come into his own as a defensive tackle and is the best player at this position in 2009. He does tire a bit at the ends of games, but don’t all defensive tackles? He has helped keep the linebackers for the Ravens clean and able to light people up.
Casey Hampton is the best nose guard in the league this year and really clogs up the middle of the line while the voracious Pittsburgh linebackers chew up running backs and receivers.
Minnesota has a great defensive line with Kevin and Pat Williams. Both are deserving of a spot on this team but I am going with Kevin. He seems quicker to get penetration and tougher to move off the line of scrimmage.
Finally, every time I have seen Tampa Bay get spanked this year one defensive player stands out, and that is Chris Hovan. It’s not his fault the defense is so lame this year.
And for my fellow Patriots fans who wonder why Vince Wilfork isn’t on the team? He’s not been nearly as impressive in the 4-3 and gets pushed off the line of scrimmage more easily, not that he still isn’t a great defensive tackle.
And the $100 million man Haynesworth? Hurt, less effective, and whining. Figures.
LB: Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos
LB: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
LB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
LB: Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons
LB: Dhani Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
LB: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49’ers
LB: London Fletcher, Washington Redskins
LB: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
For linebackers I pick a starting unit of four and a back up unit of four, regardless of whether they play inside or outside.
So far this season the linebacker that has had the most impact on his team is Elvis Dumervil of the Denver Broncos. He has an AFC high ten sacks and plays well against the run and pass. He seems to be playing better in the 3-4 brought in by Josh McDaniels.
James Harrison leads a Pittsburgh linebacker crew that wreaks pure havoc on opposing offenses. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year is a force to be reckoned with again.
How does Ray Lewis, as old as he is, still play at such a high level? It’s no hyperbole to say that Ray Lewis is a first ballot Hall of Fame linebacker. He remains the leader of one of the best defenses in the league.
Finally, second year player Curtis Lofton of the Atlanta Falcons rounds out the starting lineup. He is the defensive leader of a young Falcons unit and the NFL’s leading tackler.
And the best of the rest – Dhani Jones is a key cog in a much improved Cincinnati defensive. Having lost a would have been All Pro in Antwan Odom for the season, he has stepped up his game to keep the pace going for this team.
Patrick Willis for the past three years has been one of the best middle linebackers in the league. Mike Singletary must love this guy.
The Washington Redskins are in disarray but London Fletcher remains a steadfast, sturdy, hard tackling inside linebacker on a defense that remains sturdy but tends to give up big plays. He’s had little help from Mr. $100 million man Albert Haynesworth.
Finally, he of the drooping, slobbering lower lip, Terrell Suggs, continues to wreak havoc and cause disarray for opposing offenses. He can often be seen in the backfield around the ball with his lip hanging to the ground spewing venom at his opponents.
SS: Brian Dawkins, Denver Broncos
SS: Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals
Troy Polamalu is the best strong safety in the league and had one of the most dominant games I have seen from a strong safety in the first game of the season. But he was injured and out of action too many games to make the midseason team.
Instead I am going with Brian Dawkins. He has brought a level of leadership and swagger to the Denver defense that it did not have last year and it’s no wonder they are playing as well as they are. I am sure the Eagles badly miss his presence on their squad.
Adrian Wilson had a great season last year and has been a strong defensive presence for a few seasons. He helps anchor an improved Cardinals defense.
FS: Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints
FS: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
Darren Sharper came to the Saints this year from the Minnesota Vikings is a candidate for defensive player of the year honors. He is has been grabbing interceptions, making big tackles, and leading the resurgent New Orleans Saints’ defense.
Ed Reed simply remains one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league. He still has the ability to dominate a game. He has a nose for the ball and if he grabs and interception, he is always a threat to take it all the way.
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
CB: Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
CB: Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings
CB: Terence Newman, Dallas Cowboys
I know he has been burned a few times this year but Nnamdi Asomugha is still the best cornerback in the league. He does it all in coverage and he’s not afraid to tackle.
The young Darrelle Revis made a name for himself smack talking about covering Randy Moss and then backing it up on the field. He’s had more than a solid season and has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
I love the way the smallish Antoine Winfield plays football. He’s not even 200 pounds but will come up and lay a big hit on running backs much bigger than he is. Deion Sanders used to run away from people coming at him.
The last spot was a tough one but Terence Newman has laid some smack downs on receivers this year and is very consistent in his coverage.
P: Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders
Why do the worst teams always have the best punters? I guess because they get plenty of chance to practice their craft.
Special Teamer: Melvin Bullitt, Indianapolis Colts
I just love how Bullitt will blow you up if he gets a good shot at you.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Right now Jared Allen is the most dominant defensive player in the league. It’s scary how there is so much talent on this team and they have Jared Allen too?
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE: Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills
With hats off to Brian Cushing, the USC linebacker now with the Houston Texans, who is having a fine year, this young rookie from Oregon has been awesome the last few weeks.