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Dr. Z's ALL Pro team (Offense)


JMac

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Dr Z likes a couple of Redskins. Im in total shock!

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/dr_z/01/05/z.all.pro.offense/index.html

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.

Wide Receivers

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.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, and I couldn't find any challengers.

Tackles

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.

Under my numerical system, Lepsis scored highest, at 4.6, based on serious drive blocking. His negatives included a few forces, no sacks and a couple of L's. Kansas City's Willie Roaf also got a 4.6 in the area of drive blocks, at which he excelled, but when he came back off his hamstring injury, the sacks and forces started piling up. He lost out to Jones, a 3.57 grader but a high scorer in the all-important area of single pass blocking-except for a very bad day against the Giants' Osi Umenyiora.

I'm always looking for sleepers at this position. I did complete workups on Cincy's Levi Jones, Atlanta's Kevin Shaffer and the Vikings' Bryant McKinnie, whom I never much liked until this season. None of them made it -- obviously. I started looking at a pair of Packers, Mark Tauscher and ChadClifton, but gave up after three games.

I didn't chart Ogden because he struggled so much. His strength really seems to be gone. Maybe he was playing hurt and didn't tell anybody. I didn't grade Tarik Glenn nor Orlando Pace because I didn't think they consistently showed as much as my people did.

Guard

Mike Goff and Ryan Lilja -- Goff was an accomplished drive blocker for LaDainian Tomlinson, either pulling or going straight ahead. Until this year I had never really taken him seriously. He topped the scorers at 5.0. Lilja, at 4.88, edged the Seahawks' Steve Hutchinson by two-hundredths of a point (4.86). This might seem like arcane nonsense to sane people, but believe me, I take it seriously, especially at this position. Lilja, a newcomer, a sleeper, was a little off his game against San Diego, but very solid the rest of the way. Hutchinson, whom I've picked before, was stuffed at the point more times than Lilja was.

Just for a kibbitz, here's my complete grading workup on the guards I charted, and if I didn't chart someone it means I didn't feel he was worthy. Looking at the situation with my "raw eyes," as John Madden says: Ben Hamilton, Denver, 4.75; Eric Steinbach, Cincinnati, 4.4; Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh, 4.29; BrianWaters, Kansas City, 4.22; Chris Snee, NY Giants, 4.07 (a real mauler, a comer, except that he held too much), Kynan Forney, Atlanta, 3.57, and his Falcons running mate, Matt Lehr -- because someone whose opinion I respect said, "You've gotta check this guy out" -- 2.57.

Allen is a sad memory of what he once was. His balance is going. He had trouble hitting a moving target. Oh sure, when someone is foolish enough to try to lock up with him, Allen will muscle him out of there, but his range is very limited.

Center

Tom Nalen. I really didn't want to pick him again, mainly because he started that nonsense about not talking to writers. Grades win, though, and I fought back the tears as I watched him edge, in order, Indy's Jeff Saturday, KC's Casey Weigmann, Cincy's Rich Braham, Atlanta's Todd McClure and the Steelers' Jeff Hartings. Then, while I was watching tape of some Tennessee defensive players, I saw Seattle's Robbie Tobeck get into a real hot streak. So I backed up and did a complete workup on him in the six other Seahawk games I saw and he came in at 2.33. This happens sometimes. Occasionally you get lucky and score with someone you never expected to be there.

Quarterback

Carson Palmer wasn't a lock, but I gave him the nod over Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. A magnificent year, and he made throws that required a lot of guts and savvy.

Running Back

Tiki Barber was in the hunt, along with the usual cast of characters, but that 220-yard Kansas City contest did it for me. Tiki wasn't getting much support from the air game, his offensive line was missing the starting tackles, and the blocking up front was erratic, at best, but all afternoon he was making people miss him in a game the Giants had to win. That clinched it, but when he turned in another blinder in a meaningful contest against the Raiders, he was home free.

Fullback/H-Back

Why isn't Chris Cooley better known? He's good enough as a blocker, and he's a very high quality pass catcher. I know Lorenzo Neal is everybody's darling, but I don't think he's the consistent knock 'em dead blocker he used to be. He plays the angles more often now, positions himself more carefully. He's nice to have around, but Cooley contributes a lot more.

Tomorrow -- the best of the rest.

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