Peyton at 37—The Best From the Best

Andy Benoit’s Quarter-Way All-Pro Team

I asked Andy Benoit, our Deep Dive maestro, to give me his All-Pro team through four weeks, based on the extensive tape work Benoit does each week. Here are his picks and explanations:

all-pro 

Offense

Quarterback is an easy decision; running back is not. Forte gets the nod over LeSean McCoy because Forte’s 3-1 Bears would not be transitioning to Marc Trestman’s system so smoothly if not for the stabilizing ground game and potent underneath receiving that the sixth-year veteran provides. If the Eagles didn’t have McCoy they’d still be 1-3.

Julio Jones has been prolific despite drawing more dedicated double-teams (those double-teams will soften when Roddy White’s ankle gets stronger). Green doesn’t have huge numbers, but his vastly improved route-running jumps out on film. Johnson isn’t a pure slot guy, obviously, but attention must be drawn to the fact that his impact inside has brought much-needed dimension to Detroit’s offense. Guarantee you defenses have worried about him in the slot more than anyone else this season.

Deep Dive

Want to read more of Andy Benoit's analytical take on the NFL? Check out his archive page for more.

Up front, Thomas has routinely won battles with no chip-block help, while the uber-athletic Smith has shown valuable improvement as a run-blocker. Mankins has been dominant as usual; Mathis’s more finesse style is a good fit in Chip Kelly’s system. Pouncey gets the nod purely on athletic merit.

Defense

There are several deserving defensive ends, but these two 31-year-olds have consistently pressured quarterbacks without sacrificing their every-down discipline in gap control. Inside, Babineaux is a versatile and disruptive gap-shooter, while Suh has been arguably the best in football at blowing up double-teams (that’s saying something for a guy in a one-gap scheme).

Houston was quiet against the Giants but is still tied with Robert Mathis for a league-leading 7.5 sacks. He’s the better playside run-defender. Matthews has only played two and a half games, but he’s the catalyst to a hybrid, attack-oriented Packers D that was borderline sensational in its last two outings.

The speedy, instinctive Lee is a perfect fit in Dallas’ new zone-based scheme. Bowman has been vicious in San Fran’s nickel and dime packages. Sherman is an easy call. So is Haden; he blanketed Mike Wallace in Week 1, often without true safety help. In Week 3, Haden was airtight on Jerome Simpson. In Week 4, he kept A.J. Green in check. Berry and Polamalu are technically both strong safeties, but who cares? Berry has been outstanding in man coverage and blitzing; Polamalu looks like his old Canton-bound self.

***

.

***

The 2014 Hall of Fame conundrum

I’ve said for a long time that the wide receiver logjam, particularly with five or six more receivers likely to cross the 1,000-catch plateau in the next five years, is going to be the most vexing problem for the 46 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters in the next few years. Marvin Harrison (1,102 catches) hits the ballot this year. Do voters put him in right away because of his importance to the Colts’ long run of excellence? Do they stack him behind Andre Reed and Tim Brown, who have been waiting nine and five years respectively? Do they wait to see if Reggie Wayne, 34, who wants to play multiple more years and is only 117 catches behind Harrison this morning, passes him, and by how much? Do the voters say both belong? Do the voters say neither belong?

But the logjam problem for 2014 could be a coaching one, for a couple of reasons.

Let’s get to the newest coach up for election in 2014, and the leader in the clubhouse among all coaches for enshrinement: Tony Dungy. In 13 years as a head coach in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, Dungy had one losing season. He had an amazing six-year run beginning in 2003—wining 12, 12, 14, 12, 13 and 12 games—one of which led to his lone Super Bowl title, following the 2006 season. But he does have downsides: Dungy is only 21st on the NFL’s all-time coaching wins list, and he is 9-10 in the playoffs. And though he has steadfastly said he is happy in his TV job and normal family life, he is 57, and the Hall of Fame selection committee (of which I am a member) has sometimes factored in the possibility of a coach returning to the sidelines if he’s still a relatively young man, which Dungy is. Why’s that significant? Because you want to be able to consider a coach’s full career, not a potentially incomplete one.

For the record, and in fairness to this section of the column, a disclaimer: I have worked with Dungy on the NBC Football Night in America set for five years. I believe he will not return to coaching—but as Bill Parcells used to say, they don’t sell insurance for these kinds of things.

One question sure to come up with Dungy, the first African-American Super Bowl-winning coach, is the pioneering aspect of the job. He was a coaching wunderkind, ascending to the Steelers’ defensive coordinator job under Chuck Noll at age 28. After seven head-coaching interviews, he finally landed the Bucs job in 1996, at age 40. Many of the successful African-American coaches, including Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell, both of whom won a conference title and lost in the Super Bowl, credit Dungy with being a important leader in their progression. Playoff coach Leslie Frazier of the Vikings does too—and they’re not the only ones.

What I am saying is [Jimmy Johnson] deserves to have his case heard. I think a good case can be made that, among modern coaches, Johnson is a Gale Sayers-type candidate.

So does racial pioneering matter, and should it count toward election? The bylaws of the Hall say, “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.” Nothing is said about being a pioneer. So it will be left to the interpretation of the voters. But my interpretation will be that the pioneer aspect of the job should matter. Inspiring, encouraging and being a role model for African-American coaches (and, quite frankly, coaches in general and football coaches in particular) is part of Dungy’s contribution to the game, and I will speak up about that subject in the Hall of Fame selection meeting on Feb. 1 in New York. Being around Dungy quite a bit in recent years, and talking to coaches about him, I’ve always gotten the feeling he’s one of the most important coaches of this era, for many reasons. But being the first African-American Super Bowl-winning coach, and leading two franchises to consistent winning seasons for 13 years, is going to make Dungy a very strong candidate for election four months from now.

A word about one other coaching candidate: Jimmy Johnson. He’s never made the list of modern-era finalists. He’s usually knocked out in the cutdown from 125 to 25 at this time of year. (Ballots for 25 modern-era semifinalists are due from the voters by Nov. 1.) I’d like to see him have his case heard in the room, in front of the 46 voters, and the only way that happens is for Johnson to make the cut from 125 to 25, then the cut from 25 to 15 for the modern-era finalists. I’m not saying he deserves it more than lots of the players or coaches on the ballot. What I am saying is he deserves to have his case heard. I think a good case can be made that, among modern coaches, Johnson is a Gale Sayers-type candidate.

Johnson coached nine years, which most people have said is too short a career to merit entry into the Hall. It bothers me, too. But Sayers played just 68 games over seven injury-plagued seasons. He got in because he was a meteor across the NFL sky—a transcendent talent who retired with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average and an NFL-record 30.6-yard career kick-return average, and who once scored six touchdowns in a 1965 game against San Francisco. He had some Adrian Peterson and some Barry Sanders in him.

Did any coach have a quicker impact on the game in recent history than Johnson, both in winning and in trends? He came into the league with a bad Dallas team in 1989 and was determined to do it his way—from stocking his defense with smaller, faster players instead of bigger ones, to bringing the Cover 2 from the University of Miami, to working the draft the way he recruited players at Miami—scouting the college teams’ postseason with his coaching staff instead of leaving it all to the scouts. He coached two Super Bowl winners in five seasons, then left a Super Bowl team behind and went on to make three playoff appearances in four seasons in Miami.

Though I believe Johnson is a strong candidate, he probably will never make the Hall. Most will say he needed to win more than 89 games as an NFL coach, and it’s a valid criticism. I just think there are some coaches, and players, who were so impactful over a short period that they deserve an airing in front of the 46 people who guard the door to the Hall of Fame.

PREV 1 2 3 4 5NEXT VIEW AS A SINGLE PAGE
287 comments
STWolf
STWolf

this kind of over-reaching, over-sensationalized butt-kissing in week 4 is a complete waste of time.

jason12345
jason12345

Belicheck didn't need as many seasons to match Chuck Noll, but Noll's teams didn't play as many games in a regular season. You forgot to mention that. 

TravisHastings
TravisHastings

As for the Haiku, come on Peter! You're usually better then that! Four games in, a re-building Philly is 1-3, with loses to a resurgent San Diego and Kanas City and what is turning out to be a "best team ever?" Broncos. I'm not saying Eagles don't have issues, but the AFC West is the best division in football. If you were predicting Philly as a playoff team this year, well, that's on you buddy! 

LittleOne4u
LittleOne4u

Football needs more Manning charactors and and less of the divas and jail bait. And yes, you can be a diva jail bait person all-in-one.

GooGulsux
GooGulsux

National media will hype Peyton Manning until Broncos season ends ... but Russell Wilson is the best QB in the league.

Seahawks would be 2-2 without him.

Don't comment if you haven't WATCHED the Houston game ... the stats don't tell the story.

He's doing it with 80% of his OL on IR

wavemkr
wavemkr

you know it's been a bad week for the cowboys when Peter "the Cowboys Hating" King actually puts a positive note along side the listing of dallas at 13 on the fine 15 (note about Sean Lee's 18 tackles).  But not to be too positive about the cowboys, King puts a post about the jerry letting lottery winners inside the draft war room.  Note what's more important is that $40Mil is used for education.  This should be the highlight, instead of making fun of jerry letting someone see the draft board.  maybe jerry see's the NFL for what it really is..... entertainment and money making, nothing more.  but at least it did help the cowboy hater King post something derogatory about the cowboys.  What would a MMQB be without something negative about the cowboys from King.

GT500456
GT500456

Honestly, who was stupid enough to hire Lame Kitten in the first place?    I know Al Davis does some very unconventional things, but why would ANYONE hire Kiffin after the debacle with the Raiders?     He's clearly not suited to be anything other than a position coach in college, or  possibly an assistant coach in high school.

donald5
donald5

Peyton's problem is home field advantage now.  I'm not sure 2 home games in freezing and possibly snowy weather is in his favor.  Then the Super Bowl in New Jersey.  Does anyone really think Peyton is going to win 3 straight cold weather games against the top competition in the NFL?  

HorizontalGophers
HorizontalGophers

"What team is going to pay good money for a 53 percent passer (since the start of 2012) who goes renegade on a team when times are tough?" 

Trick question. It's Houston isn't it?

WR2


skidoo
skidoo

Seems to me the media especially is trashing Freeman and giving Schiano a good ole boys break .He is a horrible coach with that rah rah college I'm the new Vince Lombardi mentality . Especially after leaks about the drug program and not revealing it was for medical reasons

Go see 20 feet from Stardom a great Doc about backup singers in pop and rock outstanding movie

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Guess so. At this rate Peyton will reach the 60 td range in a league where mid to high 20's can put any QB in pro bowl

JuanAntonioPizarro
JuanAntonioPizarro

King was right, Miami got its butt whipped and today number 9 spot looks extremely generous. The Dolphins were unable to handle the spotlight of being 3-0 and had rookie written all over: the terrible outfit (sue the designer!); Tannehill; a run defense that barely made it to the game. Another game like the one last night and fin fans nightmares will drown us in the mid to late twenties standings, something we thought we were leaving behind.

Jesus Hitler
Jesus Hitler

Well credit where credit is due...the bizarre font-size problem seems to have been fixed this week.  Better editing seems to have taken place, as well.  Much cleaner this time-- credit to your team.

As a matter of fact, I only really have one complaint, and it isn't even about you (directly, anyway).  It's to all the clowns who failed to draft Joe Fauria, as referenced in his "Tweet of the Week" comment.  Just sad and embarrassing really that this guy somehow missed the cut.  A living testament to how little attention the rest of the country *actually* pays to Pac 12 football (there are teams besides USC, Oregon, and Stanford).  ANYBODY who watched so much as a 2-3 UCLA games last year could have told you this guy would be a steal as a 3rd rounder, let alone undrafted.  Baffling case of scouts focusing in the wrong places-- particularly considering what a sexy thing a good target tight end has become in today's NFL

jlinkner
jlinkner

Can you turn off those annoying Microsoft ads that are blocking your article?  How do we turn them off.

Other than that......I love your incites!

jlinkner
jlinkner

Could you turn off those annoying Microsoft ads that we can't close.

Natick4
Natick4

I am sure someone will quickly correct me, but if in fact Peyton Manning had stem cell therapy on the injured nerves in his throwing arm, then MOST of his body is 37 years old, but PARTS of his body may not be. In fact, the most important parts in relation to playing football may be much improved.

Muscle performance is a combination of the physical characteristics of the muscle, and the ability of nerve enervation to control those muscles. I hope the guy blows away every NFL QB record there is - it's good for the game, and I like to watch his mastery on the field. But, next season the NFL has got to come to terms with non-PED augmentation issues.

It is not far fetched to think that other players will (or already have) receive stem cell therapy on a systematic basis to improve muscle tone, recovery from injury, and muscle performance. At the athletic level that most NFL players achieve, already far beyond that of mere mortal men, stem cell therapy represents an undetectable avenue of performance enhancement that in the future may make traditional PEDs obsolete. 

Again, if in fact he did have some stem cell treatment, I am perplexed as to why the sports media has so far been quiet in linking his outstanding ability and the means by which he medically treated his throwing nerves.

Oh, and by the way, we have already seen players who got better as they got older...Clemens and Bonds!

BronzeBomber
BronzeBomber

Dungy should not be in the Hall of Fame just because he sabotaged each Colts postseason by sitting everybody for a few weeks.

EricS.Ellison
EricS.Ellison

Yes. I perfectly understand why Suh was not named 1 of your defensive players of the week.

FightingTard
FightingTard

Why is it that no one is questioning Peyton? 

Athlete has career threatening surgery, comes back at 37 an is having the best season of his career. Nah nothing there sounds suspicious, lets fete him a  hero and bow down before him.

What will the media do if it turns out Manning is on something?

pee-kay
pee-kay

I have read and seen COUNTLESS stories about Peyton Manning and his great start to the year.   I have read two stories regarding a player LOSING A PORTION OF HIS FINGER!!!  And this is deemed excessive!?!??!?!  Actually, probably is.... NOT AT ALL EXCESSIVE!!!!   Just grow that finger back and move on, sissy.  

MichaelMcKinney
MichaelMcKinney

Short Term 12.  Really goo,d small film about a half way house for teenagers.  Brie Larson, as the supervisor of the facility, gives an amazing performance.

Joe R2
Joe R2

PK has wet dreams about Peyton Manning

EaglesPdx
EaglesPdx

As a comparison, that was the Andy Reid built defense that allowed 52 Peyton Points.

That was Romeo Crennel's defense that has held opponents to 10.25 points per game.

Reid might the 2013 winner of the John Gruden, "Looking good with someone else's team" award. Difference of course is that Reid, unlike Gruden, has a solid rep of building good teams which Gruden does not.  But Reid inherited a much better base in KC than he left in Philly.

Fedorg4s
Fedorg4s

So for the All-Pro team Forte is ahead of AP and Shady because they're team records are worse? Oh and then there's Troy Polomalu, who's team is win less and hasn't even forced a turnover and he's ahead of Earl Thomas who is on an undefeated team with the best D. 

It's a sin that AP isn't first for All Pro list and that Earl Thomas and Eric Berry (best two safeties in the league) aren't there together. 

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

& sorry, but god bless Hall of Famer Marv Levy & his 4 Super Bowl losses...but Jimmy Johnson won 3 Super Bowls essentially, beating Levy for 2 of them...& he doesn't SNIFF the Hall? Peter, use your power...you know better...

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

Yeah, I'm sorry, Jimmy Johnson not in the Hall is a travesty for one reason only...HE WAS THE COACH *&* GM---Jerra Jones did not draft those players or build those teams, no matter the title, & the fact the Cowboys have been resolutely mediocre since Johnson left, even with all the funds in the world, really does say something. The fact that more GMs aren't in the Hall is a joke, & one of the pound-for-pound best GM/coaches ever not getting in is so silly as to be laughable. Dungy deserves to be in eventually, but he won one Super Bowl, & he wasn't the GM of either Tampa Bay or Indianapolis.

atmorris8117
atmorris8117

I think Tony Dungy is a tough case for the HOF. He won lots of regular season games with tremendous talent in Tampa and Indy but won just one Super Bowl and had many early exits in the playoffs. Also, he never quite got the Colts defense right despite supposedly being a defensive mastermind. Further, Gruden winning in Tampa the year after Dungy left hurts his cause.

LarryYelen
LarryYelen

I live in southwestern Ontario and, as such, receive sports radio from Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo.  I have grown accustomed to Monday mournings from WKNR, WFDN, and WGR respectively.  This morning, though, nothing but accolades and celebration!  So I got to wondering: when was the last time the Browns, Lions, and Bills all won in the same week?

LarryYelen
LarryYelen

Amazing how you didn't pick Matt Schaub as goat of the week or, at the very least, the co-goat of the week.  Flacco's decisions may have been bad (a couple of the picks were unlucky), but you don't see the throw that Schaub chose to make--he wasn't under duress--at any level above high school.  Put another way: can you imagine a certified NFL stud QB, such as Peyton Manning or Brady or Brees or Rivers or even Cutler, attempting that throw on his worst day?

TravisHastings
TravisHastings

@LittleOne4u Mannings have a diva streak. Remember when the boys were drafted and Archie called San Diego and told them don't draft Eli because he won't play there? Can't get much more diva then that! 

GrogChe
GrogChe

@donald5 Have you bothered to see his stats in cold weather?  He continues to perform at high levels.  Even in the Raven game the td he placed with Knowshone was perfect--even the commentators said that the weather was not effecting Peyton's arm.  BUT he throws one interception and suddenly he can't play in cold weather--sounds like the same type of propaganda coming out of Obama's mouth

donald5
donald5

@Jesus Hitler Well these are the same "clowns" that all passed on Arian Foster as well.  (the same guys who picked Fauria were clowns for whiffing on Foster, right?)  Is this a living testament to how little attention the rest of the country pays to the SEC?  Spare us the "nobody pays attention the PAC12 garbage".  The scouts don't give a flying flip about ESPN contracts or when the games start.  They watch the games regardless.  Read his draft profile.  A TE that gets tripped up a little too easily after the catch and does not block well in the run game.  While he should have been drafted, I hardly see it as a travesty worth some completely tangential and off topic rant on the MMQB.

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

@Natick4 good point. we can build em faster stronger than ever before. Fast forward 10 yrs from now. Stem cell Manning just threw his 100th TD for the season

JPM
JPM

@Natick4 Re: Stem Cell Therapy ... definitely intriguing.  Can you cite some proof or, failing that, a link to some reasonable speculation?

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@FightingTard Manning has never been the biggest, strongest, or fastest QB.  PEDs don't make you any smarter and the only thing different with Manning at this point (post injury) is that he might be even smarter.  He's not threading needles 20 yards downfield like he used to even but, he's as good as ever at reading defenses.  His performance this year stems from extended familiarity with his teammates and his maturation as a QB (He could have won MVP #5 last year, and could get it this year).

RafalPruszyn-ski
RafalPruszyn-ski

@FightingTard He didn't just come back. He played last year. He has had time to heal and get work in with his receivers. His performance is not out of the ordinary for him. But yes, I agree that he is doping. the name of the drug? Wes Welker.

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@liquidmuse3 Didn't Jimmy leave the Cowboys because Jerry Jones want him to relinquish the GM job?

Mike26
Mike26

@LarryYelen Larry, it was an incredibly stupid decision and play; however, he WAS under duress.  Everything else you said was correct.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@TravisHastings @LittleOne4uSo you have one tiny example from only one of the brothers in, what, 26 combined seasons?

Some diva streak.

Anyway, that incident with Eli was more business-related than anything else; Archie was convinced San Diego would be a dire career move for Eli.  So you can get *much* more 'diva' than that example, actually.

Carnifex
Carnifex

@GooGulsux but that doesn't make him the best QB in the league, just the one most valuable to his team. You're saying you'd turn down the chance to have Peyton, Brady, or Rodgers on your team?

RafalPruszyn-ski
RafalPruszyn-ski

@JahliSuwaghaman @FightingTard At this point he is a lock. I know, its early, but if he keeps this up, he is shattering records at the most important position and the team will go very very near undefeated. Who can match him this season when he has nearly twice as many TDs as the next guy? 4 TDs a game would come out to 64..round down and he can realistically go for 55 to 60. He would shatter the record by Brady.

GT500456
GT500456

@leehwgoc @Joe R2 So true, leehwgoc.    I wish The Lonely Island had put PK into their "Jizzed In My Pants" video with a line about Tom Brady.

Newsletter