Thursday, December 24, 2009

NFL All Decade Team (Offensive Team)

QB: Peyton Manning

The debate between Manning and Brady will be a hot topic in sports for many years to come but to me it isn't even close, Manning is heads above any other competition. Brady has the edge in titles (3 to 1) but he was really only a big factor in the second one, the other two were carried by the defense and Vinaterri. He was still the starting QB of those teams and deserves credit for that but the one year he was relied on to carry the team he lost the Super Bowl. I also believe that Moss and Welker help Brady look much better than he is. Manning has been the most consistent quarter back of the decade and the most dominant, he makes everybody around him look better. No matter who is the coach or what weapons he has he has been a model of consistency. He would have the record still for most TD's in a season if it wasn't for the Patriots being in screw everybody mode and run up the score all season unlike the Colts in the past when Manning sat out the second half in his final three games. Peyton is in complete control of his team and nobody in football is as much of a leader as he is, he as much of a coach of that team as Jim Caldwell. Manning just makes everybody better and has carried his team with leadership and class which is why he is my QB of the decade.

RB: Ladainian Tomlinson
This might be the easiest pick of this team, not only has he been the most dominant running back this decade but he has also been the most consistent. Even with age and injuries catching up to LT the last couple of years he has still totalled 22 total touchdowns during that span. The yards are down and his explosion isn't there anymore but he still has a nose for the end zone that is unmatched. He has tallied a ridiculous 151 total TD's this decade and has even thrown for 7 others. When it is all said and done LT will go down as one of the greatest all time.

WR: Terrell Owens
Unfortunately for Owens he is probably going to be remembered more for his relationships with his quarter backs and his "attempted suicide". Despite all that you still have to admit that no other receiver has played at a consistent pro bowl level than TO. He has been to 6 pro bowls this decade, has been named an All Pro 5 times and has caught 113 TD's this decade and 11,540 yards. Performance wise it might have actually changed helped Owens to change teams as often as he has because he puts up the same numbers wherever he goes. The only exception has been this year in Buffalo but he is getting older and Buffalo might be the sorriest excuse for an offense (only challenged by the Rams and Browns) and they have no QB that can consistently get him the ball. If I were building a team and I had the choice to get TO in his prime I wouldn't necessarily take him because of his off the field issues or sideline issues for that matter, but there is no questioning his on the field performance. Owens has to be here for this selection.

WR: Randy Moss
I agonized over this selection more than any other one. With every ounce of me I wanted to choose Marvin Harrison over Randy Moss. My biggest beef with Moss is that he plays when he wants, forget about taking plays off or even games, he took off 2 seasons in Oakland. I know its the Raiders and if that behavior could be excused anywhere it would be in Oakland but I don't believe for a second that you can excuse playing half hearted anywhere, especially when your getting paid millions of dollars from that team. Also I cannot stand how Moss refuses to go across the middle and does anything he can to avoid physical contact in the most physical game in the world (you could argue hockey or rugby here but for arguments sake we'll say football). Despite all of these negatives it is impossible to ignore his numbers, unfortunately for him two of his best seasons where pre 2000's but he has put up good enough numbers the rest of the decade to snag this spot. He has more TD's this decade then Owens with 117 and slightly more yards with 11,619 plus I firmly believe that he (along with Wes Welker) have truly made Tom Brady a much better QB, also I believe the same to be true with him Minnesota with Donte Cullpeper. I really wanted to put Harrison here but Moss has been more dominant and I think that Manning has really boosted Harrison's stats, but Harrison should still be a first ballot hall of famer.

TE: Tony Gonzalez
This might pick might challenge LT for the biggest no brainer, Gonzalez is the greatest tight end to ever play the game. He has 67 TD receptions this decade, has had at least 773 yards in each season over the last 10 years and has astonishingly hasn't lost a fumble once this decade. Even if he had just average receiving numbers he would still be in discussion for this spot because of his blocking skills. We easily forget just how good of a blocker he is, both pass blocking and run blocking. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates may one day challenge Gonzalez for greatest receiving TE of all time but they aren't even close to him in blocking skills. Gonzalez is as complete of player as there is in the game, plus he is a great person and great teammate.

FB: Lorenzo Neal
Neal has become some what of an NFL journey man, he has played on 5 different teams this decade but has still been a pro bowler 4 times and an All Pro 3 times. He has blocked for 8 1,000 yard rushers over the past 10 years and was the lead blocker for LT during his best years, including his record setting year in 2006. No other full back has had as big of an impact for their team as Neal has had for his 5 teams this decade (Titans, Bengals, Chargers, Ravens and Raiders). More impressively for Neal is that he has been doing this for 17 years, not just this decade, the only other full back that could possibly challenge Neal would be Mike Alstott but his best years were in the 90's and he was more of a runner than a blocker. Neal exemplifies every characteristic you want in a full back: size, strength, toughness, a fantastic blocker and the ability to rush in short yardage situations, he has to be here.

OT: Jonathan Ogden
Judging the value of an offensive lineman is very difficult to do because there are no real stats as to really evaluate them with. However if you were to poll a group of experts and players from around the country as to who the greatest linemen of all time are there is no doubt that Jonathan Ogden would be amongst the top of the pack. Ogden made 8 straight pro bowls including 7 All Pro selections, he is a complete freak of nature at 6'9" and 345lbs he showed uncanny lateral quickness for a guy his size, and his wingspan was unmatched by any other lineman. It continues to baffle me how Baltimore always had mediocre quarter backs with a guy like Ogden protecting their blindside for so many years. No other left tackle has been feared as much as Ogden with perhaps one exception, but we'll get to him shortly.

OG: Alan Faneca

Alan Faneca was a huge part of the Steelers first Super Bowl win this decade, he is one of the premier guards all time. I classy guy who plays with a mean streak, he will mash with the best of them at the line. I've never seen a guard pull around for a run as fast and effectively as Faneca, he was a huge part of the running game and I don't think it is a coincidence that the run game in Pittsburgh has suffered since he left for New York. Faneca made EIGHT consecutive pro bowls this decade and was an All Pro in each of those seasons. Faneca is in the back end of his career but he has been a constant ambassador for how football should be played. He will go down as one of the great guards of all time and he is more than deserving of being in an All Decade team.

C: Jeff Saturday

This is probably my upset pick of the team, Saturday isn't known as a dominant or imposing offensive lineman but I am giving him the nod because of his incredible football IQ. He is the focal point and the leader of an offensive line that has the enormous responsibility of protecting Peyton Manning. We constantly see Manning changing plays at the line and trying to read coverages, but he isn't the only one that has to do that. Saturday is a guy that has consistently been there to help Manning point out blitzes and necessary line shifts. Not only that but Saturday has to be able to interpret all the gibberish that Manning is spewing at the line and adjust accordingly, and he isn't just responsible for his assignments but for the rest of his line. The complex offensive system that the Colts run require an incredibly intelligent center to communicate with the QB. Saturday needs to be very smart also because of being undersized at the position. He has also been incredibly durable, only missing 6 games his entire career.

OG: Steve Hutchinson
Hutchinson could retire today and probably be considered the greatest offensive guard of all time. He has blocked for a 1,300+ yard rusher in 5 out of the last 6 seasons. He is a key part in the success of Adrian Peterson and was a major part in Shaun Alexander's success in Seattle, especially during his MVP year in 2005. He is a fantastic run blocker and a fantastic pass blocker. He is extremely versatile and that has helped him land 6 All Pro and Pro Bowl selections this decade. Hutchinson also makes those around him much better, he played alongside left tackle Walter Jones between 2001-05 and formed one of the most feared offensive line duos of all time, but I believe that Hutchinson greatly improved the reputation of Jones on that left side. Steve Hutchinson remains one of the most feared lineman in the game and continues to help Peterson chew up yards in the running game.

OT: Orlando Pace

I had a really hard time choosing between Orlando Pace and Walter Jones. Jones resume might be slightly more impressive but I had to go with Orlando Pace for a few reasons. One is simply that Pace was more physically imposing. He didn't just block defensive players, he took pride in demolishing them and driving them to the ground, he played with a mean streak. Another reasons is, as I stated before, that I believe Hutchinson really helped out Walter Jones, Pace never had that consistent guard play to help him with the blindside. My last reason is simply that being a Rams fan I watched Orlando Pace play a lot more than Walter Jones. While both have posted similar numbers I got to watch first hand the kind of impact that Pace could have on the game, especially during the Rams run as "the greatest show on turf". He helped Warner capture two MVP trophies and Faulk capture another, we always think of Warner, Bruce, Holt and Faulk but we quickly forget just how vital Orlando Pace was to that high powered offense. He may not be his same dominant self but he is still a legit tackle in this league and has had the better decade.

Monday, December 21, 2009

NBA All Decade Team

Center: Shaquille O'Neal

This pick is a complete no brainer, Shaq has nearly as many accomplishments this decade as he does nicknames. No center has dominated a decade like this since Kareem dominated nearly 20 years of basketball at the position. Here is a quick rundown of Shaq's accomplishments over the last 10 years.
* 1999-2000 NBA MVP
* 2nd in MVP Voting in 2004-05
* Twice 3rd in MVP Voting (2000-01, 2001-02)
* 7-time All-NBA First Team
* 1-time All-NBA Third Team
* 9 All-Star appearances
* 3-time All-Star MVP
* 3-time All-Defensive Second Team
It isn't just about the numbers either, no player has been responsible for so many rule changes since Wilt than Shaq, most notably the defensive 3 in the key rule. The only other player that I could possibly see here is Dwight Howard but he has only been in the league since the 04-05 season and he has only become a star over the past couple of years. This decade belongs to Shaq but the next one is for the new superman to dominate.
Per game stats this decade
Pts Reb Ast Blk Stl TOs FG% FT% 3P%
23.08 10.62 2.70 2.16 0.52 2.75 58.49 52.18 0

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

This was a very agonizing decision between Garnett and Tim Duncan but because I couldn't come to a logical decision as to why I choose one over the other I did what any good writer would do, go with my personal bias. One of the big reasons that I chose Garnett here is because I feel he has done more this decade with less. Duncan was blessed with being put into a great organization while Garnett saw time and time again his best teammates get traded or sign away from Minnesota. The one big advantage that Duncan has is obviously the number of rings he has but Garnett showed that he knows how to win and he has what it takes to win a ring as long as he has help around him. Here is a list of Garnett's accomplishments this decade:
* 2004-05 NBA MVP
* Twice 2nd in MVP Voting (1999-00, 2002-03)
* 3rd in MVP Voting in 2007-08
* 4-time All-NBA First Team
* 3-time All-NBA Second Team
* 1-time All-NBA Third Team
* 10 All-Star Appearances
* 1 All-Star MVP
* 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year
* 8-time All-Defensive 1st Team
* 2-time All-Defensive 2nd Team

If you compare Garnett and Duncan their accomplishments are freakishly similar yet we always here how Duncan is probably the greatest PF to ever play the game. I don't understand how you can bring up that conversation and not mention Garnett, especially when he may very well add another ring or two to his long list of accomplishments.
Per game stats this decade:
Pts Reb Ast Blk Stl TOs FG% FT% 3P%
21.64 12.08 4.69 1.57 1.35 2.60 49.89 79.42 28.60

Small Forward: Lebron James

James is the only player on this list that has not played the entire decade but its just hard to imagine putting anybody else here. The only other player that could be up for discussion is Dirk Nowitzki but he isn't a true Small Forward and there is nothing that he has accomplished this decade that James hasn't done as well. Lebron has been an absolute force in the league since he came in in 2003 and in only his 6th year he is widely regarded as the best all around player in the game today. The comparisons to Jordan as a player may never manifest but he certainly has a shot to become the same type of marketing icon. His personal accomplishments are phenomenal but he needs at least one ring in order to go down as one of the greats, but at only 24 (nearly 25) he has plenty of time to rack up a collection of rings, especially if he doesn't pull a Jordan and go try his hand at football.
* 2008-09 MVP
* 2nd in MVP Voting in 2005-06
* 3-time All-NBA First Team
* 2-time All-NBA Second Team
* 5 All-Star Selections
* 2-time All-Star Game MVP
* 1-time All-Defensive First Team
Per game stats this decade
Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk TOs FG% FT% 3P%
27.53 7.01 6.69 1.76 0.86 3.26 47.10 73.80 32.80

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant has had by far the most entertaining decade of any player on this list but there is no denying his accomplishments. His roller coaster journey has been nothing short of spectacular and fun to watch, whether you hate or love the guy you enjoyed watching him the last ten years just because you never knew what was going to come next. He went from winning 3 rings to the rape accusations, to the ugly "divorce" with Shaq, the 81 point game, the trade demands and finally bringing his team back to the promised land of NBA Champs (there will be a future blog on Kobe). In a two year span he led his team to two Western Conference titles, an NBA title and a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Here are some of his other feats this decade:
* 2007-08 NBA MVP
* 2nd in 2008-09 MVP Voting
* Twice 3rd in MVP Voting (2002-03 and 2006-07)
* 7-time All-NBA First Team
* 2-time All-NBA Second Team
* 1-time All-NBA Third Team
* 10 All-Star Appearances
* 3-time All-Star Game MVP
* 7-time All-Defensive First Team
* 2-time All-Defensive Second Team
Per game stats this decade

Pts Ast Reb Stl Blk TOs FG% FT% 3P%
28.16 5.24 5.86 1.67 0.58 3.11 45.66 84.38 34.22

Point Guard: Steve Nash

This was another toss up pick between Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, however I have the nod to Nash because he has been more consistent throughout this decade and shows no signs of slowing down while Kidd has been showing his age more and more the last couple of years. Neither PG has won a Championship, although we will never know whether or not the Suns would have won in '07 had Stoudemire and Diaw not been suspended, but Nash has won 2 MVP awards to Kidd's 0 and is also regarded as a better teammate and on the floor leader. Kidd has been to two NBA finals but it was during the time where the competition in the Easter Conference was pretty watered down. When it comes down to it if I had to choose one guy to run the point for me in one must win game and I could choose between these two at the very peak of their careers I wouldn't even hesitate to take Nash and that is why he is my choice here.
* 2004-05 and 2005-06 MVP
* 2nd in MVP Voting in 2006-07
* 3-time All-NBA First Team
* 1-time All-NBA Second Team
* 2-time All-NBA Third Team
* 6 All-Star Selections
Per game stats this decade

Pts Ast Reb Stl Blk TOs FG% FT% 3P%
16.23 9.14 3.21 0.82 0.09 3.04 49.44 90.47 43.62

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