Doug Baker’s 2010 All Pro Team: Defense

Clay Matthews, Jr.

Here are my picks for the 2010 All Pro Team Defensive Team.

The top players on the list are the starters and the second players are backups.


DE: John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons

DE: Jason Babin, Tennessee Titans

DE: Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears

DE: Justin Tuck, New York Giants

Dwight Freeney gets the snub here because of the group he is the worst run defender, even if he may be the best sack specialist.

DT: Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens

DT: Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders

DT: Vince Wilfork New England Patriots

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions (Rookie)


LB: Clay Matthews, Jr., Green Bay Packers

LB: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

LB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens

LB: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins

LB: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears

LB: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

LB: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49’ers

LB: Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots


SS: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
SS: Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals

LaRon Landry of the Washington Redskins would have been in Adrian Wilson’s spot had he not been injured. He was having a Defensive Player of the Year type season before getting hurt.

FS: Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers

FS: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens

Oshiomogho Atogwe of the St. Louis Rams should have made the team but the other two players finished the season strong on playoffs teams.

CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders

CB: Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

CB: Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers

CB: Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos

Brandon Flowers of the Kansas City Chiefs get an honorable mention.

P: Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders

Special Teamer: Lorenzo Alexander, Washington Redskins

DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Clay Matthews, Jr., LB, Green Bay Packers

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

Doug Baker’s 2009 Midseason NFL All Pro Team: Defense

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.


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.



Jared Allen is a Dominate Force on Defense

Doug Baker’s 2008 NFL All Pro Team: Defense

The season is almost over and I am going to present my NFL All-Pro Team.

In this article I am presenting the starting defense, punter, kick returner, and the defensive player of the year.

The players are listed in order of selection. For example, Justin Tuck and John Abraham are first team all pro, while Jared Allen and Julius Peppers are second team.

Given that most teams run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, I am picking four defensive linemen and four linebackers, so I have a 12 man team on defense. For linebackers I don’t pick inside and outside linebackers, I just pick the best linebackers in the league regardless where they play in their respective defensive schemes.


DE: Justin Tuck, New York Giants
DE: John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons
DE: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
DE: Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers

I think Justin Tuck is the best defensive lineman in the league. He is definitely the toughest to block one-on-one. He can also play effectively at either end or tackle.

John Abraham has had a great year in Atlanta and lead the league in sacks for much of the season.

You have to love the motor Jared Allen has on defense. He is relentless whether he is rushing the passer or playing the run. Like Justin Tuck, Allen is a defensive lineman that can sometimes take the game over on defense.

The last spot came down to Julius Peppers and Mario Williams of the Houston Texans. I lean just slightly toward Peppers because he has come on late in the season to carry the Panthers defense along with linebacker Jon Beason.

Even though Mario Williams didn’t make the team, he is proving that the first pick in the draft Houston used on him wasn’t such a bad move after all.

DT: Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee Titans
DT: Kris Jenkins, New York Jets
DT: Shaun Rogers, Cleveland Browns
DT: Jamal Williams, San Diego Chargers

Albert Haynesworth and Kris Jenkins are both defensive player of the year candidates and dominate the line of scrimmage from the tackle position. They are clearly the two best tackles in the league.

Kris Jenkins, in some ways, has had a more impressive year than Albert Haynesworth because he doesn’t have the same level of talent around him.

Shaun Rogers usually dominates the line of scrimmage in the first half of games. I have seen him completely manhandle centers in games and, despite his huge size, he may be the fastest defensive tackle off the ball in the NFL. His weakness is he gets tired and fades in the second half.

Jamal Williams has been one of the most consistent defense tackles in the league on a less than stellar defense. He should have made the Pro Bowl.

Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens deserves an honorable mention for a spot on this definitive All Pro team.

LB: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
LB: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys
LB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
LB: Joey Porter, Miami Dolphins

LB: Antonio Pierce, New York Giants
LB: LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers
LB: Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears
LB: Jon Beason, Carolina Panthers

James Harrison is the most dominate linebacker in the league this year. He is a one man wrecking crew and makes the entire defense better.

DeMarcus Ware has really come on late in the season to lead the league with 20 sacks. The past several weeks he has torn up opposing offensive lineman and catapulted himself into the discussion of defensive player of the year.

Ray Lewis has found the fountain of youth this year and is back to being the dominant middle linebacker we are used to seeing roam the field for the Ravens. He is the seminal middle linebacker of his generation, just like Mike Singletary was of his.

Joey Porter is a jerk and I blanch at having to put him on this list, but alas I must. He has had a great year in the reformulated Dolphins defense and is back to trash talking and backing it up by smacking around the opposing offensive players.

I am surprised Antonio Pierce did not make the Pro Bowl. While he benefits from having a great defensive line in front of him, he plays the run and the pass equally well and is vital to the success of the Giants defense, especially given their weak secondary.

LaMarr Woodley has been the Robin to James Harrison’s Batman in Pittsburgh. Woodley anchors the opposite side of the line and takes advantage of the attention the offense has to give to stopping Harrison and Troy Polamalu.

Lance Briggs, in many respects, has taken over the mantle of best defensive player on the Bears’ team. His outside pass rushing skills are superlative and he plays well against the run too.

Jon Beason is one of the best young linebackers in the league and I expect him to become a dominant one in the near future. He’s smart and tends to be in the right place at the right time on most plays.

Patrick Willis of San Francisco and DeMarco Ryans of Houston got jobbed out of spots on my team but deserve mentions for their outstanding play this year.

SS: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
SS: Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals

Troy Polamalu is head and shoulders above any other strong safety in the league. He has an unbelievable nose for the ball and has made some of the most spectacular interceptions I’ve ever seen. He’s the complete package, playing the run and pass equally well. And he’s one of the smartest defensive players in the league. He has impeccable timing on blitzes and seems to always be in on every play.

Adrian Wilson has been a consistently good strong safety for the past several years. He also has a good nose for the football and is a tough tackler.

FS: Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
FS: Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers

What can you say about Ed Reed that hasn’t already been said? The guy is a ball hawk and is the best free safety I’ve seen since Ronnie Lott and Charles Woodson. He is a phenomenal, dynamic player.

Nick Collins has had a great year for the Packers playing both the pass and run. Given the weakness of the defensive line, the secondary was put in tough spots all year long and for most part came through.

CB: Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
CB: Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
CB: Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans

Antoine Winfield is an underrated cornerback even though he made the Pro Bowl. He is the best cornerback in the league playing the run and making tackles, and as the season wore on was not thrown against too often. I’ve seen him take over a few games, particularly the wild shootout the Vikings had against the Saints this year. He is one of my defensive player of the year candidates.

Nnamdi Asomugha is probably the best cover corner in the league. It’s too bad he plays on the terrible team.

Charles Woodson is one of the anchors of a Packers secondary that showed a penchant for producing turnovers and keeping Green Bay in games that otherwise might have gotten out of hand. He is getting a little older for the cornerback position but is still one of the best in the league when healthy.

Cortland Finnegan is a fiery young corner that is brave against the run and somewhat of a ball hawk when he sees it coming his way. He could develop into a perennial pro bowler at this position.

P: Mike Scifres, San Diego Chargers

In the games I have seen, Scifres punts have made the most difference in his team’s chances of winning. The unusual spin he has on the ball makes the return game a bit hard for opposing teams and he has a great punting average.

KR: Leon Washington, New York Jets

I have seen Leon Washington singlehandedly turn games around with his kickoff and punt returns. He’s been a real difference maker this year as a kick returner and third down back.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Harrison is the best linebacker in the league and makes the whole corps of good linebackers in Pittsburgh even better. He’s been a beast this year and has blown up some excellent offenses.