Posted: Thursday January 5, 2006 2:50PM; Updated: Thursday January 5, 2006 2:50PM
Steve Smith led the NFL with 1,563 receiving yards.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
I am sitting here looking at the roster of Pro Bowl choices and I'm trying to fight off the great sadness I feel. Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, players who are clearly on the downside, yet here they are, once again, back for another go round. Faces that'll appear on that roster until they retire because it seems that the selectors simply don't bother to watch what offensive linemen do.
It's the one position that has no numbers, no measurables. A recognizable name means Pro Bowl selection, year after year.
Well, far be it from me to argue about other peoples' selections. I've got my own to worry about. Offense today, defense, special teams and miscellaneous tomorrow.
Steve Smith and Santana Moss. Smith is to the Panthers this year what Muhsin Muhammad was last year. The go-to guy, the possession receiver and deep threat, all in one. Nobody else in the NFL fulfills the dual role as well as he does. An easy choice. Wish they were all like that.
Last week I had Chad Johnson winning a six-way shootout involving himself, Moss, AnquanBoldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Joey Galloway and Torry Holt. I set up this competition every way I could think of, game by game, performance against similar opponents, performance in meaningful vs. unimportant contests, you name it. Fitzgerald scored well against Johnson, head to head. So did Holt. Johnson made a lot of circus catches. He also dropped the ball on occasion. Actually I was rooting for Moss, who broke up so many contests. He didn't have quite the consistency Johnson had, and they were both feared downfield threats. Consistency swung it, but I still had a nagging feeling that maybe I should have chosen Santana. That nagging feeling stayed with me all week. I woke up in the middle of the night and said, "Moss is better. Why am I kidding myself?" Charts are one thing. Excelling as the only serious wideout on the team is another. So I switched my pick to Moss. I hope you understand.
Antonio Gates, and I couldn't find any challengers.
Walter Jones and Matt Lepsis. The grades called it here, even though tackles always seem to score lower than players at any other offensive line position. I can't go into the entire scoring mechanism I've created for all linemen, but the positive factors I consider are ability to take on the opponent's featured pass rusher without help, or at least partial help, and successful drive blocks. Sacks and forces given up get minus marks, and by sacker I don't mean the guy who inherits the quarterback, I mean the one who's created the play. Thus if Blocker A faces the man who forced the QB into the arms of the rusher who's facing Blocker B, A gets the bad sack mark, not B. Forces given up also are negatives, and so are running plays in which the tackle's man blew up the whole thing, even though he might not have actually made the tackle. They're are scored as L's.