New England Patriots Super Bowl XLIX Highlights Video

untitledNew England fans will no doubt want to have this video as part of their collection which has an hour long recap of the Patriots’ 2014 regular season and postseason games, with extensive highlights of the Super Bowl XLIX win, 28-24, over the Seattle Seahawks.

Other than being a New England Patriots fan, I would rate the video to be about average.  While it does a decent job of providing a nice recap of the regular season, it could have done more to build the drama throughout the season.  While New England ultimately went 12-4, there was some real drama early in the season.

Despite blowing out a poor Minnesota Vikings team in Week 2, the Patriots looked very mediocre after four games.  They were humiliated in Week 4 by the Kansas City Chiefs and not only looked like a pedestrian team, they looked like a bad team.  The offensive line was a mess, Brady didn’t look like Brady, and the entire team looked like it could be headed to “has been” status.  There was even talk in the media about Brady being benched.  That’s just how bad it was.

While this video plays up the fact New England looked pretty poor in that game and captured the theme “we’re on to [choose team]” mantra the coach and players adopted after the Kansas City game, it missed a lot too.  For example, it really should have included Belichick scoffing at a reporter when asking if the “QB position would be evaluated” implying Brady could be benched.  And it could have shown some of the commentary in the media about the Patriots being “a bad team.”  But it didn’t.  And that would have made what came next even more powerful.  The Patriots righted the ship and went on to win all but two of their remaining games.  One was a close loss to Green Bay at Lambeau field and the final game against Buffalo where most of the starters rested.  And of course, they won the Super Bowl.

The video does a better job with the playoff wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts and of course the Super Bowl.  The Ravens game was particularly close with tricky formations and a trick play to secure the win after being down by 14 points twice.

The New England Patriots seem to always be in heart stopping Super Bowl matchups that leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the final gun sounds.  Super Bowl XLIX in which the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 is no exception.  Seattle was able to pull off a miraculous drive at the end of the game to almost win it, only to be thwarted at the goal line by an interception by the unheralded rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler.  The video is at its best covering this game and its magnitude for the legacy of Brady and the Patriots

Of course everyone will remember the season for the ridiculous Deflategate drama at the end of AFC Championship Game.  The video never mentions it, and as a Patriots fan I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It was definitely a part of the story leading into the Super Bowl and had to be a distraction for players and coaches so I feel the video should have somehow deftly handled it because it was part of the full story of the season.  That it’s completely missing seems odd.

The special features in this addition are nothing special or worth mentioning.  I wish they could have put together a better package for that as they have done in the past.

http://amzn.to/2oplcok

Overall, of course Patriots fans like me will love the DVD despite its drawbacks.

 

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Troy Brown: Patriots for Life

5182Gc8256L__SX332_BO1,204,203,200_This is a very workman like autobiography of Troy Brown.  And that’s fitting, because Troy Brown was a very workman like special teamer and wide receiver for the New England Patriots for 15 years.

The first few chapters Brown tells about his life growing up very poor in South Carolina and sports being his primary outlet.  Being on the smaller side he had to work hard and out compete other players to get ahead.  His entire football career is defined by that.

While he had a standout career in high school, he was not highly recruited and ended up playing junior college.  Luckily he caught the eye of a coach at Marshall University in West Virginia and received one of the last scholarships.  He went on to have an excellent career at Marshall winning the 1992 Division I-AA National Championship as a receiver and kick returner.

Troy Brown was drafted in the 8th round by the New England Patriots in the 1993 draft and almost didn’t even make the team.  He was cut at the end of Preseason and thought his football dream was dead, but luckily for the Patriots, Coach Bill Parcells re-signed him in October.  He spent most of his first seven seasons with the Patriots primarily as a kick returner, and slowly got a chance to start getting in the rotation as receiver as time went on.

His first year as a full-time starter was 2000, when new coach Bill Belichick saw something in his work ethic and talent that he really liked.  It was the right call.  In 2001 Brown had 101 catches and a pivotal role in the offensive as New England went on to upset the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.  He also had an excellent year in 2002.

But, when 2003 rolled around, Troy Brown was relegated to a lesser role in the receiving care.  He had been in the league 10 years at the point and the younger, fresher legs of the likes of Deion Branch were highlighted.  But Brown played a pivotal when New England went on to win back to back Super Bowls in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.

Troy admits being upset that he didn’t start in the Super bowl XXXVIII against the Panthers but he played a pivotal role catching eight passes for 76 yards.  The following year Brown spent larges amounts of time playing defensive back because of injuries and again played a pivotal role in Super Bowl XXXIX covering the Philadelphia Eagles slot receivers.  He is a jack of all trades.

Troy Brown certainly didn’t want to retire after his 15 years in the league but father time caught up with him.  He had a great career as a lifelong New England Patriot.

This book will give the reader lots of insights into the character of Troy Brown and what it was like to be on championship winning teams and what it means to persevere.  In this case the underdog comes out on top.

Here is my tribute to Troy Brown written the day I heard he was announcing his retirement:  https://cdbaker.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/tribute-to-troy-brown/

Patriot Pride: My Life in the New England Dynasty

 

Brady v Manning

51qiixUsGEL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will go down at as two of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. In fact, the past 15 year era of professional football will be most remembered as the era of Brady and Manning. Much like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, they will forever be intertwined.

This book details the career trajectory of both Brady and Manning, gives accounts of their history against each other and in the playoffs, and provides some nice anecdotes about their personalities and approaches to the game. One thing they have in common, however, is their love for the game, attention to detail, and dedication to succeed.

But there are also some stark differences between the two, in some ways making Brady’s narrative a little more attractive. Peyton Manning comes from a football family and was almost immediately successful in college and was the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. By contrast, Brady had to fight and claw his way to a starting position in college, and wasn’t even always the full-time starter as a senior at Michigan. Then he was drafted in the sixth round, and potentially could have gone completely undrafted. This clearly gave Brady a huge chip on his shoulder and even more determination to succeed.

Manning had a rocky first few years in the pros but clearly was on a path to success. Brady, while not lighting the world on fire, came on in relief in his second year for an injured Drew Bledsoe and never looked back, winning Super Bowl XXXVI over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.

Both have been very successful in their careers and are in fact good friends and have a lot of respect for each other.

Hearing anecdotes from teammates of the two players and their interaction with their teams was also well done in this book, especially stories about practical jokes and pranks. It’s also clear that most of their teammates have a great deal of respect and admiration for them.

So who’s the best quarterback? The author does an even handed job of laying out the arguments for both quarterbacks.

For Brady it is his record in the playoffs, four Super Bowl titles, and frankly having done it, for the most part, with inferior talent at the wide receiver position pre-Randy Moss.

For Manning it’s his incredible passing records during the regular season with his offensive consistently being one of the tops in the league. The downside for Manning is his teams, and it’s usually not all his fault, choke in the playoffs. When this book was published Manning had only one Super Bowl to Brady’s four. He has two now that Denver has won Super Bowl 50 but that was led by Denver’s defense.

Really it hardly matters who was best but I am a New England Patriots fan and biases so I say Brady is the greatest ever because the hardware (championships) matter.

This was a very well done book.

Brady vs Manning: The Untold Story of the Rivalry That Transformed the NFL

The Debate is Over: Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback in NFL History

Book Cover: Tom Brady vs. The NFL

The Case for Football’s Greatest Quarterback: Tom Brady vs. The NFL by Sean Glennon
Triumph Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-60078-636-5 (pbk.)
256 pages

Sean Glennon has written a well-organized, cogent argument why Tom Brady is the best quarterback in NFL History.  He does this by comparing the statistics, both regular season and post-season, as well as the long term success of other candidates’ respective teams versus Tom Brady.  He also uses more subjective measures such as talent around the quarterback and championship wins.  He uses all of this data and more to show that Tom Brady stacks up as the best ever.

The chapters a broken down comparing Tom Brady to other great quarterbacks, interspersed with breakdowns of each of Brady’s seasons and his team’s accomplishments.

What this book doesn’t do is trash the achievements of other quarterbacks.  All the quarterbacks presented in this book are rightfully considered the greatest that ever played the game.  You don’t hear the author trashing the achievements of Peyton Manning, for example.  In fact, the author lauds the achievements of the other great quarterbacks to which he compares Brady.

Glennon does such a great job of making his arguments I won’t rehash them here, but I will make a few points on a couple of items in the book.

Peyton Manning

Tom Brady vs. Payton Manning is the first chapter of the book that directly compares Brady to another great quarterback and Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana is the last one.  That was brilliant placement of those two chapters as Manning would be the current day quarterback to most likely get some strong arguments in his favor, and Joe Montana, of course, many incorrectly consider the best ever.

The Peyton Manning chapter is very similar to some of the arguments I have made to why Tom Brady really is a better quarterback than Manning and I’ll just throw in a few comments here to say that I agree.  First, championships do and should matter in this evaluation.  It’s not the only thing, but it is one thing that should be looked at.  At least the player’s and his team’s accomplishments in post-season play should be strongly considered.  And despite all the great talent the Colts have had, for whatever reason, they really slump in the playoffs and Manning doesn’t always perform that well when he gets there.

Second, Manning’s entire career has been spent with superior offensive talent.  Manning has had the luxury of a strong running game (Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James) most of his career, and a Hall of Fame bound receiver in Marvin Harrison and an elite receiver in Reggie  Wayne.

Brady, on the other hand, has taken average receivers and offensive talent and led them to three Super Bowls.  But for a dropped pass that would have undoubtedly been a game winning touchdown by the woebegone Reche Caldwell, Brady would have lead a group of below average receivers to a Super Bowl.

And what happens when Brady gets an elite receiving corps?  19-0, 50 touchdown passes and a bevy of other offensive records.  Granted the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl that year, but the achievement is one that is still phenomenal. This was followed by another Super Bowl appearance after the 2011 season.

Glennon does a nice job of making these points, and more.

Joe Montana

I think the chapter on Joe Montana is the one that really brings to light how Brady is better than Joe Montana.  Yes, the one thing Montana has over Brady is four Super Bowl wins, and 4-0 at that, while Brady is 3-2.  But I have never heard anyone argue that Terry Bradshaw is the equal of Joe Montana and he is 4-0 in Super Bowls too.

But when one looks over the long-term success of Montana’s teams and many of the statistics, Montana clearly doesn’t stack up to Brady.  And Montana had what some consider the best receiver ever to play the game in Jerry Rice most of his career, a strong running game, and a stout defense that usually ranked at the top of the league.  Being one of the most talent laden teams of that era the 49’ers probably should have made it to more than four Super Bowls, but they didn’t.

Now in the current salary cap era, no offense to a lot of Brady’s former teammates, the Patriots have never assembled great offensive talent around Brady for much of his tenure at quarterback.  When they have the results speak for themselves (now they just need to fix the defense).

Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben is not given his own chapter but he is mentioned with other current elite quarterbacks. I hear a lot of people try to make the claim that Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback. He probably is based just on his team having won two Super Bowls but they have also failed to make the playoffs frequently as well. And Roethlisberger played poorly in two of the three Super Bowl appearances (a win against the Seahawks and a loss against Green Bay).

The Steelers won Super Bowl XL despite Roethlisberger’s poor play.  He has the distinction of being the quarterback on a winning Super Bowl team with the worst passer rating, an abysmal 22.6.  He threw two interceptions, one on a terrible pass that set up the Seahawks for an easy touchdown.  I suspect the poor play of Big Ben is the reason the Steelers finally went to a trick play and had former college quarterback Antwaan Randle-El throw a touchdown pass to Hines Ward.

I’m not pointing this out to denigrate the accomplishments of Big Ben, but he is no Tom Brady.

Conclusion

Now I will quote from the last words of the book.  This is not a spoiler because you already know the book’s conclusion:

“And the reality is the greatest quarterback in NFL history is not Peyton Manning, not Bart Starr, not John Elway nor Dan Marino.  It’s not Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham.  And no, it’s not even Joe Montana.”

When you sit down and honestly and fairly review and compare the careers of the best who ever played, you can only reach one conclusion: The greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL is Tom Brady.  Pure and simple.”

Tom Brady vs. the NFL: The Case for Football’s Greatest Quarterback

Tom Brady on the Couch

Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything by Charles P. Pierce
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0374214449

This is undoubtedly one of the oddest biographies I have ever read. And one of the most intriguing.
Author Charles Pierce tries to uncover what makes Tom Brady tic. What makes him such a consummate team player and leader on the field? What made a player drafted in the sixth round, whom nobody but maybe Bill Belichick and Scott Piloli, thought would ever amount to much in the pros, become a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, one of the best to have ever played?

There are a lot of things.

First, Brady was never the most gifted athlete and he had to work for everything through high school and college. In fact, he was barely recruited and his father put together a video package and he ultimately ended up at the University of Michigan. He persevered despite not even being a full time starter, even as a senior, despite that he was a winner.

Second, in the pros his work ethic is infectious to his teammates. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. His hard work put him in a position to take over for Drew Bledsoe when he was hurt during the 2001 regular season and progress. He became the team leader that despite his talents Beldsoe never really was.

Third, he is a team first player. He truly buys in to the Patriots’ modern day credo, there is no “I” in team. He doesn’t care about stats, he cares about wins. But that has propelled him to put up unbelievable stats.

And he his simply a nice person. He gives credit where credit is due. He doesn’t do a lot of endorsements. And when he had the opportunity to do one for a credit card company he refused to do it unless his offensive linemen, his protectors, were involved. He wanted them to shine to.

Don’t believe Tom Brady is a really good guy in a sport fraught with me first, selfish, athletes with an undertone of criminality? Read Charlie Weiss’s book about his near death experience and how Brady helped him and his wife out in their time of greatest need. Read Tedy Bruschi’s book that has a few anecdotes about what Brady’s friendship means. Or simply read this book about to hear what his family, friends, and teammates have all said about his leadership skills. There is a reason his teammates and coaches have the utmost confidence in him.

The oddest aspect of this book is Brady himself did not participate in it and it really takes somewhat of a psychologist’s approach at times in examining its subject. From the influence of his Catholic upbringing, the impact of his athletic older sisters who sometimes outshined him in his youth, to his perseverance in the face of sports adversity, you learn the inner workings of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

This is a recommended read.

Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything

New England Patriots’ Super Bowl Hopes Dashed: What Went Wrong Against the New York Jets?

The New England Patriots 28-21 loss to their hated rival New York Jets in the 2010 divisional playoff round is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow for Patriots fans. But the bottom line is the Patriots got outplayed and outcoached and the New York Jets deserve their victory.

That leaves one wondering, what went wrong? Well, a lot went wrong. Here is my take on the game with the keys to the Jets victory.

Defensive Game Plan

I would not call the Jets defensive game plan brilliant because it was copied from the San Diego Chargers, and ironically, the Cleveland Browns (who Rex Ryan’s brother Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator of at the time). Once the Patriots jettisoned Randy Moss earlier this year they really lost their only deep threat on offense. Brandon Tate was the most likely candidate to fulfill this role but at this stage in his early career he just hasn’t come through. Thus, New England eventually thrived on a short passing game and the run.

Shortly after New England booted Moss to the curb the San Diego Chargers played a perfect defensive game against them. What did they do? They didn’t blitz Brady leaving openings in the short passing game that he has so thoroughly exploited against most teams after that. They simply threw a lot of defensive backs into the game and blanketed the smallish wide receiving crew. As a result Brady had nowhere to go with the ball and was harassed all day in the pocket, not because of a great pass rush, but because the coverage was so good. The only reason the Patriots won that game is gaffs and turnovers by the Chargers.

The Cleveland Browns did the same thing to the offense, while gashing the very young defense in the running game for a blowout victory.

The Jets replicated that, and with two of the best cornerbacks in the league. They covered the receivers and got what I consider coverage sacks on Tom Brady. And later in the game when the Patriots seemed to be making a comeback they ran the ball effectively, but ate up so much of the clock they left little time to complete the comeback.

In their second meeting the Jets blitzed, Brady exploited it, and the Patriots got a lead. Sorry, while all this praise is heaped on Sanchez after this game, but put the ball in his hands for a comeback bid and that is usually going to spell disaster. Tonight the Jets defense didn’t leave it in Sanchez’s hands.

And one final point, this game showed clearly what the lack of a Randy Moss meant to this offense and team. A receiver to stretch the field is sorely needed.

Coaching Decisions

Bill Belichick is clearly one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. You don’t have a team, especially in the era of free agency and parity, which competes year in and year out for a Super Bowl title unless you have a great coach. But why is it in big games that Belichick seems to outsmart himself?

Everyone remembers the infamous forth and short call against the Indianapolis Colts two years ago. With a small lead and the ball backed up within the Colts 20 yard line, near the end of the game, Belichick decides to go for it on 4th and 1 instead of punting the ball and making Peyton Manning drive most of the field for a winning touchdown. The Patriots didn’t make it, and paid for it with a loss.

Less remembered will be Belichick’s decision to eschew a 51 yard field goal in Super Bowl 42 and instead went for it on 4th and long, resulting in great field position for the Giants. Given the indoor stadium and kicker Stephen Gostkowski, it was a makeable field goal, even if he was a rookie.

So the Patriots are only down 7-3 in the second quarter near midfield and Belichick calls for a fake punt. Patrick Chung botches the snap and it’s the same as a turnover. The Jets have the ball on a short field and it’s suddenly 14-3. (I know Chung claims it was his call but I find that hard to believe).

Playing behind against the Jets defense is not where you want to be.

And what was with the challenge so early in the game on a first down play that was clearly a catch by Santonio Holmes?

Then with a 21-14 deficit with 1:32 seconds to go in the game, Belichick decides to go for an onside kick. Granted the Jets just torched the Patriots defense for a big play earlier to turn a 14-11 lead to a 21-11 lead prior to the long drive and field goal. But otherwise the New England defense had played pretty well in the in second half forcing a few three and outs.

Now I am not going to really fault Belichick for the onside kick call too much because head they kicked the ball and the Jets gotten a few first downs the game would have been over. But give the Jets the ball at midfield on a play that rarely works? Game over. I would have kicked the ball off and forced the Jets to make the first down.

Bad Plays

Despite the great play of the Jets the New England Patriots could have still won the game but the players simply made the worst mistakes and the worst times.

New England’s opening drive was a promising one, moving the ball well and looking to be on their way to a score. But Brady threw an interception which stopped the Patriots’ momentum in its tracks. While the Jets ultimately missed a field goal on their subsequent drive, this was a lost scoring opportunity.

Then on the next drive, Algae Crumpler crumpled and dropped a touchdown pass right in his hands on third down, so the Patriots had to settle for three instead of seven.

Then Patrick Chung, with the Patriots down 7-3, fumbled the ball on a fake punt attempt. Replays showed he very likely would have made the first down to keep the drive alive. Instead the Jets get the ball past midfield and convert it into a touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

In the second half when the Patriots cut the Jets’ lead to 14-11 after a nice scoring drive and two point conversion, the defense gives up a huge play to Jerchico Cotchery which eventually lead to the Jets extending the lead to 21-11. A sad and unforgivable let down by the defensive that had played well in the second half up to that point.

Then the onside kick attempts at the end of the game were simply pitiful. Shayne Graham did a nice job on the first kick but all the Patriots players were blocking but nobody was going after the ball. They should have had at least one player aggressively going after the ball but they were all standing around trying to block. And even worse, they let Antonio Cromartie get the ball and run into scoring position.

And the second onside kick was just as bad. A good kick by Graham, but nobody aggressively trying to get go after the ball, which the Jets recovered.

That was pretty sad for Patriots fans who were teased with a possible comeback.

And finally the kickoffs by Shayne Graham were just pitiful. Line drives to the 10 yard line with Antonio Cromartie consistently putting the Jets in good field position were not helpful.

How Depressed Should Patriots Fans Be?

Any time you lose a playoff game against a team you know you can beat it is depressing. And there is so much parity in the league this year the Patriots had a great chance to win another Super Bowl. So it is very depressing.

But if you had asked me in the middle of the season, with one of the youngest and seemingly weakest defenses in the league, with two rookie corners, no real pass rushing threat, and a team relying on a cast of small receivers with no deep threat, to me it is amazing the Patriots made it as far as they did. The defense is clearly in rebuilding mode, so going 14-2 is pretty good.

On paper, in my opinion, the Baltimore Ravens have the best team in the league and they blew it too after second half turnovers against Pittsburgh.

Atlanta, the number one seed in the NFC got smacked in the mouth by the Green Bay Packers.

Peyton Manning and the Colts suffered a lot of injuries on offense and lost to the Jets last week.

While the New Orleans Saints, last year’s Super Bowl champions, lost to a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team.

So the Patriots loss, especially considering the personnel they have on the field, is nothing to be ashamed about.

The Patriots were overrated going into the playoffs in my opinion. Their defense has been vulnerable all year and is one of the youngest in the league and other than Brady and a solid offensive line, they really have no big playmakers on offense. I’ve heard commentators say the Patriots have done it with smoke and mirrors. The smoke and mirrors have been Brady’s superlative play all year. Other than the interception early in the game he actually played quite well, his receivers simply could not get open.

So at the end of the day it will take me a long time to get over this loss, but based on the personnel we had on the field all year, we got further than I thought we would.

But it sill stings, because we could have, should have taken it all again.

Doug Baker’s 2010 NFL All Pro Team: Offense


Tom Brady, The Best

QB: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

OB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Tom Brady has had a terrific season and is the top rated quarterback in the league. The Patriots ability to adapt to a mostly new receiving corps this year, and thrive after the loss of Randy Moss leaving the Patriots without a real deep threat at wide receiver, places him at the top at his position.

Michael Vick has probably the fastest receiving corps in the entire league and his ability to make plays from the pocket and on his feet, something he was unable to do prior to going to jail for dog fighting, has placed him in the discussion for MVP.

RB: Arian Foster, Houston Texans

RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

It isn’t entirely accurate to say that Arian Foster came out of nowhere to lead the league in rushing after the 15th game of the regular season, but he kind of did. Fantasy football fans knew about him from the preseason and he went off the draft boards fairly early in many leagues. But the gridiron is not fantasy and he has come through with a solid running game this year.

Jamaal Charles definitely deserves a spot on this roster. He is a phenomenal second year running back who has made big strides both rushing and receiving this year. He is a big reason the Chiefs are doing so well this season.

Overall I still think Chris Johnson is likely the best running back in the league, but with such instability at quarterback and the receiving position this year teams have really stacked up against the run. Yet he is still third in the league in rushing and just barely gets edged out.

Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, Rashard Mendenhall, Darren McFadden, and Ray Rice all deserve accolades this year.

And the out of nowhere most fun backs to watch is are Peyton Hillis and Danny Woodhead.

FB: Le’Ron McClain, Baltimore Ravens

FB: Heath Evans, New Orleans Saints

Fullbacks are really a dying breed in the NFL and I wonder how much longer we will really have true fullbacks. Here I’m going with players who are the most versatile at the position.

Le’Ron McClain can do it all. He is an excellent run blocker, pass blocker, he can tote the rock, and catch passes out of the backfield. He is the most talented and versatile fullback in the game today.

Heath Evans of the Saints also provides the full compliment of offensive skills and adds another dimension to the Saints already potent offense.

WR: Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

WR: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

WR: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

WR: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

If it weren’t for his nagging injuries this year it is hard to tell what Andre Johnson might have done statistically. He is still the fourth leading receiver in yardage as of this writing.

Roddy White has really come on the past couple of season and other than Andre Johnson is the most versatile, hard to cover receiver in the league.

Reggie Wayne has a had a very steady season and with all the changes to the Colts’ lineup at the receiver position he has had to be the go to guy in clutch situations, and he always come through.

DeSean Jackson is one of those young, diva, unsportsmanlike receivers and personally I can’t stand his stupid antics on the field. But he is the fastest, most explosive receiver I have seen in some time and makes the Eagles offense a big play machine.

TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

Jason Witten has been one bright spot in the Dallas Cowboys’ arsenal this year. It doesn’t matter what quarterback is playing, he is usually making big catches.

Tony Gonzalez is amazing. He is one of the best blocking and receiving tight ends in the league even at his age.

No Antonio Gates? The only reason he didn’t make the cut is too many injuries and missed time.


C: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers (Rookie)

C: Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens

Maurkice Pouncey is a one nasty piece of work. He plays center like a defense player, attacking the line of scrimmage and the player he faces. This is one of the most impressive rookie offensive lineman I have seen in quite some time.

By the end of this year there are a few teams that have just fabulous interior offensive lineman and the Baltimore Ravens are one of them. There is a reason a small player like Ray Rice can get so many yards running up the middle and Matt Birk is one of them.

Honorable mentions to Nick Mangold of the New York Jets and Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts.

G: Ben Grubbs, Baltimore Ravens

G: Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints

G: Adam Goldberg, St. Louis Rams

G: Rob Sims, Detroit Lions.


Ben Grubbs has had an excellent season for the Baltimore Ravens, and along with center Matt Birk, is the reason the Ravens running game is successful up the middle.

Jahari Evans gets all the press and tends to be everybody’s pick as one of the best guards in the league, but I think Carl Nicks is outstanding and one of the most impressive performers at guard, particularly since he often has to help Jermond Bushrod, the left tackle.

I’ve only seen the Rams play a few times but one player that certainly stood out to me is the guard Adam Goldberg.

Rob Sims of the Detroit Lions is another player that every time I see the Lions on television, which isn’t often, he stands out as a superior interior offensive lineman.

Jahari Evans of the Saints, along with Carl Nicks and center Jonathan Goodwin make up one of the best offense lines in the league. They struggled a bit against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, but who doesn’t? Nevertheless, much to the hue and cry of those who think Evans is better than Nicks, he didn’t make the cut.

T: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

T: Jake Long, Miami Dolphins

T: Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots

T: Michael Roos, Tennessee Titans

Overall I have not seen great tackle play this year. The one most consistent player I have seen is Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns. In their last game against the Baltimore Ravens he essentially erased All Pro candidate and pass rushing specialist Terrell Suggs. And he faces two of the toughest defenses in the league twice a year in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Jake Long, while I think he is overrated, has also become a very consistent performer at the most critical of positions on the field at left tackle.

Sebastian Vollmer has been a real surprise for the New England Patriots. He has performed admirably against the likes of Dwight Freeney of the Colts and Julius Peppers of the Bears.

Michael Roos has been a very steady performer for the Titans for years and remains one of the better tackles in the league.

Damien Woody of the New York Jets would have made the team over Yanda but he is now on injured reserve.

K: Rob Bironis, Tennessee Titans

K: Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rob Bironis has been the most consistent kicker in the league this year, particularly from 40 plus yards.

Josh Scobee has missed a few of late but he also has been one of the more consistent kickers from long range.

Matt Bryant of the Atlanta Falcons almost made the cut. And Dan Carpenter of the Dolphins, who had a fine first half of the season, got cut for missing too many field goals late in the season.

Kick Returner: Devin Hester, Chicago Bears

If DeSean Jackson were used more as a kick returner he probably would have won this spot. After a slow start Hester is once again a player you just don’t want to kick the ball to.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Tom Brady has taken a group of unknown, smallish receivers, along with unsung heroes at the running back position and created the highest scoring offense in the league.

While many will scream that Michael Vick deserve the top spot, he has a lot more to work with than Brady.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers (Rookie)

Pouncey is one of the best rookie offensive linemen I have ever seen.