January 9, 2009

All-Pro Team Released

The All-Pro team is what really matters to me. I despise the Pro Bowl selections because they are mostly fan-based and the voting is done by most people at the season's midpoint. The all-pro team is actually compiled by legitimate football minds in the AP so I can appreciate what they have to offer me when they present the NFL's best.

Firstly, it was great to see Cortland Finnegan and Nnamdi Asomugha make it. I watched Finnegan about three or four times this year and he is a phenomenal press coverage defender. He is fearless when it comes to playing up on receivers and loves to hit. He had 5 INTs, a sack, and a touchdown, but it was his overall physical play that quickly made him a corner that QBs avoided.

Asomugha has long deserved an all-pro selection and this year he got one. He only had one interception, but the real story behind the selection is something you don't see on the stat sheet. Opposing offenses threw to Asomugha's side of the field just 27 times, allowing only eight catches.

Does it get any better than that? I couldn't find anyone more deserving than those two guys.

As for the QB selection, I might have gone with Drew Brees. His numbers were the best and he posted them with the likes of Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore for large parts of the season. However, you can't argue with the Manning selection. Peyton's leadership really drove the Colts from a team on the brink of collapse to the hottest regular season team of the year.

Deangelo Williams should not have been left out. The guy had one of the best bursts off of the line of scrimmage I've ever seen. You knew he was gone once he hit that gear which was often (14 TDs). Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson were both great backs, but I would have taken Williams over both. He had 20 total touchdowns and though he rushed for less than Turner and Peterson he shared the backfield with Johnathan Stewart.

Peterson also fumbled the ball nine times in the regular season so I just don't see how Williams didn't make it.

The linebackers were solid. I'm partial to London Fletcher and I feel he always gets shafted, but Ray Lewis did have a a good season. Lewis had three picks while Fletcher didn't even have a pass defensed. Fletcher only had one FF and one recovery while Lewis had two of each. London had 133 tackles while Ray had 117.

Fairly comparable stats so I can't complain. My Redskins bias say give it to Fletcher though.

Jon Beason completely deserved his spot. He was in on so many plays for the Panthers this year. He was a tackling machine with 138 and three INTs. Beason received raves all season from scouts and fans.

Chris Snee has always been praised, but this year the praise took him all the way to the all-pro team. Tom Coughlin's son-in-law was a stalwart on a great O-line. In my book that was a solid pick.

Really I had very few issues with the team selected. I didn't realize Tony Gonzalez had produced such massive numbers. Unbelievable that he can put up such stats every year. He's almost 33 and the wear and tear of the NFL hasn't got to him yet. Over 1000 yards and 10 TDs. A surefire Hall of Famer if there ever was one.

Larry Fitzgerald cemented his status as the best receiver in football in my book. Ever since he was at Pitt I've loved watching him play. He's freakishly proportioned and he uses everything his parents gave him to the fullest. Great ball skills, reliable hands, speed, he's the total package.

Every year I try to watch Andre Johnson, but I never get around to it because the Texans aren't on TV in Virginia. Next year, I promise I'll watch him. Hell, I still know he's good. Just look at the numbers.

Le'Ron McClain embarrassed the Skins towards the end of the year. I didn't feel so bad after I saw what he did to the Cowboys. Great choice for fullback. And to think Mike Sellers went to the Pro Bowl (very poor choice I felt); he wasn't even in the running here.

James Harrison naturally made it. And the Raiders added another with Shane Lechler at punter. Two Raiders and no Redskins. Very sad day in DC. Al Davis is outdoing Dan Snyder.

But Ed Reed stole the show as the only unanimous choice. Reed is always called a "ballhawking free safety", so I'll come up with a different description. Reed is a homing missile targeted on the endzone. The ultimate quarterback mind-reader, Reed seemingly knows where the ball is going before receivers even do. Just look at the read on Chad Pennington's pass over the middle last week. Insane skills. And once he gets the INT, 9 times out of 10, he will score. From anywhere. Just look at his several 100-plus yard returns.

So Reed got what he deserved. Every writer voted him all-pro at free safety. That's quite an honor.

The last guy I'll mention is Demarcus Ware. I really thought he should have been defensive player of the year. He had 20 sacks and was routinely wreaking havoc in opposing teams' backfields game in and game out. Ware is so dangerous because he is willing to take chances. He gets flagged for offsides quite often as far as I've seen, but so often when he jumps quickly it's because he knows the snap count. He's smart and has the raw athleticism to back it up.

So the All-Pro team was really chosen well this year. There were solid choices all around and the writers were not afraid to pick the best players at most positions rather than the trendy fan-based choices. Congrats to all on the team.

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