Dr. Z's All- Pros
Closer look at players who merit recognition in 2007
Posted: Thursday January 10, 2008 9:45AM; Updated: Thursday January 10, 2008 2:36PM
Four Patriots made my Offensive All-Pro unit. Two others, center Dan Koppen and LT Matt Light, came very close. But I mean enough's enough already. Without wasting any more of your time, here are my selections, including runners-up, near misses, futures, sleepers, schleppers, etc.
QUARTERBACK (Tom Brady) If the Patriots go all the way, you will be reading a lot of stuff written by people who never saw John Unitas, never saw Otto Graham, know only what their fathers told them about Terry Bradshaw and have only a dim recollection of Joe Montana ...
Stuff about why, in their opinion, Brady is the greatest of all time. I'm going to try to stay away from this one as long as humanly possible out of respect for the past. Brady will be evaluated when his body of work is close to being completed, but I think it's disrespectful to throw him into the mix right now.
But gosh, what a year he's had. You can say that everything is in place, the great receivers, the terrific protection. But someone still has to pull the trigger. And not flinch in the face of the rush, when it appears. At least he makes the choice of one position on an All-Pro team a whole lot easier for people such as myself.
RUNNING BACK (Brian Westbrook) No, not two running backs, Associated Press, one! Got it, one! A normal team lines up with one feature runner, and that's what an All-Pro unit should look like, even though it's a lot more convenient to avoid having to make the thorny choice.
Westbrook had the most yards, rushing and receiving, in the NFL. At the midway point I was leaning toward Adrian Peterson, who'd just come off his 296-yard afternoon. But for all the kid's greatness, he was stopped at times. Westbrook always found ways to make his presence felt. And do you remember what the Eagles looked like without him? They got murdered by the Giants and gained 190 yards, total. Not meaning to take anything away from Peterson, who's a fine runner, but in the two games he was out, the Vikings went 2-0 and Chester Taylor ran for 241 yards.
WIDEOUTS (Randy Moss) Moss is the reason New England scored the most points ever. If he wasn't catching all those touchdowns himself, he was opening things up for the other guys. Sure, he drops the ball at times, but you just have to live with it. It's like not being able to break Uncle Herman of the habit of spitting in the street.
My favorite Moss play this year? In the opener against the Jets, when they buttoned everything up with max protection and sent Moss galloping across the field, past the corner, past the safety, past the corner from the other side ... zip, zip, zip. It was like the old A train, the Eighth Avenue Express, going past the local stops between 59th and 125th Sts., zip, past 72nd, past 81st, past 86th. Fifty one yards and a touchdown, a continent and a half away from where he started.
We actually had competition at the other wideout. I did a game-by-game breakdown between T.O. and Reggie Wayne. T.O. is another guy who drops the ball, as we know, but I didn't let that swing the election. Wayne won it on 23 more catches, plus more big games, plus value to his team. Almost everyone else on the Colts' receiving corps was hurt. There were games in which it seemed that he and Joe Addai and Peyton were keeping the offense afloat among them.
TIGHT END (Jason Witten) Witten finished three catches behind Tony Gonzalez as the league's top pass-catching TE, but he lost the lead in the last week, when the Cowboys were resting people. He's more of a significant blocker; the Cowboys were more serious about their sweeps and off-tackle runs than the Chiefs were, with their skewed offensive line. Antonio Gates had roughly the same kind of year he had in '06, which was good enough to get him to the Pro Bowl, but not better than Witten's season, and I'm glad the Pro Bowl pickers finally have wised up to Alge Crumpler, who drops as many as he catches.