30.) Frank Gore, Halfback, SNF
Frank Gore has been underrated for most of his four career years as a starter in the NFL. I would like to believe that he is still underrated but that slowly has changed from a reality to a hope. While Frank Gore remains anonymous to the casual NFL fan he has come to become a near household name in the eyes of the hardcore set of fans.
Perhaps Frank Gore’s name is getting noticed because he has proven that he isn’t a one-year wonder like many people – myself included – once thought. Moreover Gore has shown his consistency over a long period. Not just two years or even three years. Gore has proven himself over a four year period which is a rarity at the halfback position in today’s league.
In 2006 Gore broke out and produced a 2,000 yards from scrimmage season that went overlooked by many. While a lot of people were impressed by the raw rushing totals they didn’t understand just how great the season was. Gore ran for 1,700 yards on nearly five-and-a-half yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns. Gore also caught 52 balls for 406 yards giving him a 2000-plus yards from scrimmage season.
In 2007 Gore’s overall numbers were not as impressive and as a result he was often overlooked and viewed as a one year wonder. The reality though is that the 2007 49ers offense was one of the worst of all time.
Gore still produced 1,500 total yards from scrimmage over 15 games or 100 yards from scrimmage per game. Gore was the only thing that kept them from being downright pathetic and possibly going 0-16.
In 2008 Gore was once again a monster in terms of all-purpose play. The 2008 49ers offense was nowhere near as bad as it’s 2007 incarnate but they experienced a lot of turnover. The only player playing the same position as the year before was center Eric Heitmann. Gore once again went over 100 yards from scrimmage per game putting up 1,400 yards in 14 games.
Last season, however, was the one that resulted in people finally giving Frank Gore some respect. Maybe this was because Gore was a fantasy monster in a way. Yet again Gore averaged over 100 yards from scrimmage per game producing 1,526 total yards. Some argue that this was Gore’s best season because he amassed double digit touchdowns for the first time with 13 total touchdowns with a couple of long gainers. Oh, and he did it all in just 14 games.
Over the past four seasons Frank Gore is third amongst halfbacks in terms of yards from scrimmage behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson and fourth in total touchdowns.
Over the past three seasons Gore is second only to Adrian Peterson in terms of yards from scrimmage and sixth in touchdowns.
Over the past two seasons Frank Gore ranks seventh in total yards from scrimmage as well as touchdowns. However, this does not account for the fact that Gore has missed four games over that span.
I think that what these numbers illustrate is that if Frank Gore was on a team with a competent offensive line year in and year out he’d be a household name even amongst casual NFL fans. For him to have done what he has on anemic offenses, behind makeshift offensive lines and with no help is ridiculously amazing.
29.) Trent Cole, Defensive End, PHI
If you are like me than unfortunately you live in a television market that is not the one for your favorite team. As a result more often than not you have to watch the local market’s team as opposed to your own.
The bright side to this is that you begin to take notice of players on the local market’s team that you otherwise would not know about. This is exactly how I began to notice Trent Cole way back in 2006.
The Eagles were rotating eight men along their defensive line at that time because of their tremendous depth. Regardless of who you are it is tough to shine in a rotation of eight guys. Making it even tougher is that one of those eight guys was a former All-Pro (Jevon Kearse). Somehow Trent Cole just outshined everyone else.
Cole initially worked as a member of the second rotation as it’s sparkplug. When Cole entered games he provided a much needed shift in defensive dynamic. Andy Reid noticed this and eventually Cole became the leader of the first rotation. Since then Cole hasn’t looked back.
In 2007 Cole showed the world what he could do if he wasn’t hindered by a rotation. He produced 12.5 sacks and 10.5 stuffs. These numbers warranted a starting Pro Bowl bid and All-Pro honors but he was snubbed only to be a Pro Bowl reserve.
Following up his 2007 success Cole had another impressive season. He tallied nine sacks and nine stuffs for a grand total of 18 plays behind the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately because Cole didn’t have enough of what entices the media – sacks – he was overlooked.
In 2009 Cole cemented himself in the media and casual fan’s eyes as an elite player. He recorded 17.5 total plays behind the line of scrimmage including 12.5 of those money-making sacks. Cole even had some splash plays resulting in touchdowns that, if not for greedy teammates, would have been scores by him.
Over the past four seasons Trent Cole has tallied 265 tackles, 42 sacks, 31.5 stuffs, nine forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, nine passes defensed and one interception. Averaging those numbers you get 66 tackles, 10.5 sacks, eight stuffs, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed per season. That kind of production is ridiculous.
The thing that makes all of this impressive is that Cole had to work his way up the ranks.
Cole was a fifth rounder not expected to make an impact but has worked hard and utilized his football intelligence to escape this fate. Though he has now become elite Cole remembers that it is his work ethic that got him here.
Perhaps Cole’s background of work ethic is the reason that he takes so many snaps. No 4-3 defensive end has taken as many snaps as Trent Cole has over the past three seasons. Even more impressive is the diversity of Cole’s snaps.
Over his entire career Cole has excellent at the “extras” for defensive ends. He plays excellent run contain, can get his hands up at the line, and even can play coverage. Perhaps this is why Cole was allowed to do what arguably no other 4-3 defensive end could and took a few snaps at middle linebacker in Sean McDermott’s system last season.
Trent Cole is a hard worker. He is very football savvy. Most of all Trent Cole is a pleasure to watch week in and week out. He is clearly a top 100 player in this league.
28.) Randy Moss, Wide Receiver, NWE
It is somewhat of a shame how Randy Moss’ career has transgressed.
Who knows where Randy would rank all time if he did not have the “Diva” stigma attached to him like most wide receivers?
Rather than it being arguable that he is better than Jerry Rice and Don Hutson it could very well have been an inarguable fact. Instead we will be left with constant “what ifs” in the argument for the greatest wide receiver of all time.
With that said the fact that he can be mentioned in that conversation in the first place is an achievement in and of itself.
What exactly makes Moss so damn great?
Moss is so great because of how dangerous he is. Not only is he a threat to break a big catch any time he gets the ball in his hands but he opens the field up for the rest of the offense. In fact, I would wager that there is not a more dangerous non-quarterback skill position player in the league due to how Moss changes defensive gameplans.
From a making his own plays standpoint you need not look any further than Randy Moss’ career numbers.
Despite the fact that Moss did not always play with full effort in just 12 short NFL seasons Moss ranks relatively high on all the career leaderboards for wide receivers.
Moss ranks second in career receiving touchdowns. He ranks 10th in career receptions. He ranks sixth in career receiving yards. He ranks third in career yards per game. Finally he ranks 21st in all-time yards from scrimmage.
What makes these numbers even more impressive is that Moss isn’t slowing down. While Moss’ biggest rivals during this past decade – Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt and Terrell Owens – have all become shells of them former selves Moss is still churning out great seasons.
Despite the hopes of those millions of people that hate Moss because of how he presents himself Moss isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Last year he posted 83 receptions for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns on a relatively small amount of targets (136). These numbers are barely a dropoff from early in his career.
What differs Moss from his younger days is that he is more of a complete package and more of a team player than in the past. Believe it or not this makes him a better player than in year’s past.
While Randy Moss still excels at running the post and fly routes he has retooled his game akin to the way a Major League fastball pitcher would.
Sure he can use his bread and butter still but he can do more things now as well. Moss went over the middle on 17 percent of his snaps last season and was only a downfield target for 21 percent of his targets. These numbers were even more versatile when Matt Cassell was at the helm in 2008..
Best exemplifying Moss’ change in maturity as a team player is how he draws coverage his direction for Wes Welker.
With all due respect to Wes Welker I don’t think even he’d argue that Randy Moss on the other side severely effects his production. Welker went from a solid player in Miami to an All-Pro due to Moss having safeties and linebackers rolled to his side of the field over the past three years.
If you don’t like Randy Moss than I just have to ask the question… “ What’s wrong with you?
27.) Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, NYJ
On July 28th of last year I issued a personal challenge to Darrelle Revis. During his rookie campaign Revis was shaky but produced an excellent year given the circumstances. Following up this success he had an undeniably top 10 season at his position. So the challenge that I issued to Revis was to improve upon these two years if at all possible.
I stated that if Revis could master my challenge than he would rightfully gain a few titles. The first of these titles was that of an undeniable top five cornerback. The second title was “the future of the cornerback position” given that he was only 23 at the time that the challenge was issued.
In case you haven’t guessed it Darrelle Revis easily earned both titles last season and is on his way to becoming something special if he isn’t already. What is most impressive about Revis is that he might change the concept of how and what a cornerback is supposed to do.
Historically the cornerback position’s first job has been to not be thrown at. Players that embody this and have low targets – or number of times thrown at – have been labeled as a “shut down cornerback” throughout history.
The reality of the matter is that a “shut down cornerback” is something that has historically been a rare occurrence. Few – - “Nighttrain” Lane, Mel Blount, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha to name some – have ever actually existed. When you factor in all the pro-passing game rule changes over the past 35 years this isn’t really that hard to believe.
Perhaps with all these changes it is time to change the definition of a “shut down cornerback” to the type of player that Darrelle Revis was last season.
Last year Darrelle Revis was targeted about 100 times as per multiple metrics sources including Pro Football Focus, K.C. Joyner, and Football Outsiders. Historically this would not rank as a “shut down” season but when you factor in context it clearly was.
Rather than having Revis appeal to the historic stance of not being thrown at new Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan did the exact opposite.
As Revis had been targeted an average of 78 times over his first two seasons Ryan was well aware that Revis could handle being thrown at a lot. Due to this Ryan revived his 2006 defensive scheme. This scheme calls for best cornerback to be on an island while the remainder of the secondary’s coverage is rolled in the opposite direction. Additionally the blitz scheme calls for the throws to be forced at the best cornerback as opposed to away from.
Most traditional “shut down cornerbacks” would not have succeeded within this system because their forte is to not be thrown at. Revis, however, excelled.
Ryan forced the opposition to throw at Revis while he was covering the likes of Andre Johnson, Randy Moss (twice), Marques Colston, Steve Smith, Roddy White, Vincent Jackson and Chad Ochocinco. That is a “who’s who” of top tier wide receivers in the NFL and Revis held all of them to four catches for less than 40 yards. Arguably you can add Reggie Wayne to that list.
Revis had the immense responsibility of having a defense built around him which only a few defensive backs have ever done. I would say he mastered my challenge with flying colors.
I would say Revis definitely earned the title of “future of the cornerback position.”
26.) Haloti Ngata, Defensive Lineman, BAL
If you think that this spot is way too high for Ngata than I merely have one question for you.
“How are games won?”
The quick and simple answer is “in the trenches.”
Even the most casual fan understands this old adage because it still remains true to this day.
The opposition cannot make good passes if you are constantly in their backfield disrupting the quarterback. Nor can the opposition run the ball if their interior linemen cannot get push. If the opposition struggles to both pass and run the ball then they will have a hard time winning.
I can ensure you that Haloti Ngata is one of the best in the league at making the aforementioned two things happen.
Ngata is admittedly the furthest thing from an elite pass rusher but his impact in the trenches practically creates the Raven’s pass rush.
I can recall a good 10.5 sacks that the Ravens netted last season that resulted from Ngata’s presence. Whether he moved his man to create a passing lane or was double teamed and freed up a teammate Ngata was arguably the biggest aspect of the Ravens’ pass rush last season. Those 10.5 sacks account for 33 percent of their total sack output on the season.
From a run stuffing perspective Haloti Ngata can make more of a direct impact in addition to making other players around him better.
Since Haloti Ngata arrived in Baltimore in 2006 the Ravens’ run defense has returned to prominence. While the 2001 to 2005 incarnates were good defenses the 2006 and 2008 Ravens’ defenses were their best since 2000. I don’t think it would be too farfetched to say Ngata has a big presence in this.
In 2004 and 2005 the Ravens had respectable seasons against the run but not truly elite ones. In 2004 they were tied for the eighth best run defense. They allowed 105 yards per game on 3.6 yards per carry and nine total rushing touchdowns. In 2005 their numbers were similar ranking ninth overall and allowing 99 yards per game on 3.7 yards per carry and allowing eight total rushing touchdowns.
These numbers caused Ray Lewis to complain to management to get a “big body” in front of him so that he could make plays and Haloti Ngata was picked 12th overall just a few months later.
Since then the Ravens have ranked third overall in total run defense behind the Steelers and Vikings. They’ve only allowed 1,312 yards rushing and six-and-a-half rushing touchdowns a season over that span. That comes out to allowing just 82 rushing yards per game over a four year period.
If you ask Ray Lewis I am sure he would tell you that Ngata is the main difference between those numbers.
What truly makes Ngata special is that he is one of the most versatile linemen in the league. Ngata can play 3-4 defensive end, 3-4 nose tackle and 4-3 nose tackle due to his ridiculous athleticism. What makes this even more amazing is that Ngata plays all of those positions at an elite level.
Something that I really like is that at extremely rare times Ngata drops into coverage. It may be very rare for him to do so but he makes the most of them as unlike other linemen he does have some legitimate coverage interceptions while dropping back four or five yards.
With all due respect to all the amazing defensive players on the Ravens’ roster Haloti Ngata is the most important cog in that defense for now and for years to come.
25.) Philip Rivers, Quarterback, SDG
To be quite honest the placement of Philip Rivers at 25 is going to draw criticism from two separate parties.
It will draw this criticism because it is either too high or too low pending on your allegiance to Rivers.
Philip Rivers is one of those guys that you either love due to the type of player he is on and off of the field or you hate him for that exact same reason. If you are of the former stance then you think spot 27 is too low; if you are of the latter stance then you think spot 27 is too high. I personally believe that it is just right.
People that take the stance of disliking Philip Rivers usually do so because of his blustering confidence.
Rivers is no stranger to displaying his confidence whether it’s between the sidelines or on them. Rivers loves to cheer and hype up his teammates when one of them makes a great play and the other team is sure to know it. If they don’t know it right after the play they’ll know it when he returns to the sidelines. Rivers has been seen jawing with the opposition and it’s fans on several occasions.
While these actions can turn off some football fans I must admit that I somewhat commend Rivers for them. Not the actions themselves but rather the constant emotion behind them and the desire for a win. This overall desire comes across in Rivers’ overall approach to the game.
Perhaps Rivers shows such desire because he is playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Maybe Philip Rivers is mad because some people still think of him as a game manager for some asinine reason,
Maybe he is mad because he wasn’t picked first in 2004.
Maybe he’s mad because the other two main quarterbacks from that draft class have hardware now.
Either way Rivers fiery passion leads to his confidence. His confidence leads to his approach to the game. His approach to the game is what makes him one of the truly elite field generals in the league.
There is no throw that Philip Rivers feels that he cannot make. Generally speaking that might be true as Rivers can deliver the ball all over the field with a crisp confidence behind each of his passes. His ability to do this allows him to be the league’s most efficient quarterback in a way as Rivers can minimize his attempts but still put up elite numbers.
Perhaps you are unaware of this but Philip Rivers has yet to have a season in which he threw the ball over 500 times. Despite this over the past two years Philip Rivers has thrown for two separate 4,000 yard seasons, about 30 touchdowns both times and about only 10 touchdowns both times.
Basically this allows Rivers to throw for a touchdown once every 15 passing attempts, an interception just once every 48 passing attempts, and about 8.58 yards per every attempted pass he makes. Those numbers are the most efficient in the league at what is easily the most important position. What makes it even more impressive is that he’s been the most efficient in the league for two straight seasons and might just be getting started.
I hate to say it but the only thing holding Rivers back from jumping into that first tier of quarterbacks is his lack of hardware. However, I do not think that it would be farfetched to say that he will soon have that hardware.
24.) Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, PIT
“How can you rate Ben Roethlisberger so high? He’s a rapist! Plus he’s not as good as Philip Rivers or Aaron Rodgers”
Alright, now that we have gotten all the forthcoming arguments out of the way allow me to explain the positioning of Ben Roethlisberger on this list.
Whether or not Ben Roethlisberger is a decent person off the field has nothing to do with how good of a football player he is on it. What is evident to anyone that watches Ben Roethlisberger it is that on the field he is a difference maker and clearly one of the league’s premier quarterbacks.
While many people have cited Ben Roethlisberger for his clutch abilities over the past three seasons he has shown that he is one of the premier passers in the league. Yes, that includes Roethlisberger’s incredibly docile 2008 regular season.
In 2007 Ben Roethlisberger put to rest the rumors that he was simply a game managing quarterback. He was inarguably a top ten quarterback in terms of production and was arguably the second best quarterback behind the record setting Tom Brady that year.
Ben Roethlisberger carried the Steelers offense that season. The Steelers run game on third-and-short and redzone situations was stagnant and could not convert. As a result Roethlisberger had to do most of the scoring providing 25 total touchdowns in the redzone and just two turnovers.
In 2008 Roethlisberger was injured early on in the season with a shoulder injury. The grade of the injury was never fully digressed to the public but head coach Mike Tomlin did note its seriousness. Though Roethlisberger had a less than impressive season from a numbers standpoint he did come up clutch in five games that season including the Super Bowl.
Last year when Roethlisberger had a complete offense around him he showed the world what he can do. If for some asinine reason game managing questions still surrounded him there is no way they could still exist after last year. Roethlisberger’s production across the board in terms of yards, completions, and touchdowns was top seven all while missing a game due to injury.
Since the 2006 season Ben Roethlisberger is sixth in the league in passing yards which is an admitted seventh as Tom Brady missed a year. Roethlisberger’s 93 passing touchdowns rank seventh over that span as well. Finally his completion percentage ranks eight over that span separated from the next guy by a mere .03%. I think it’s safe to say that Roethlisberger’s an elite quarterback from a statistics standpoint.
However, as I noted earlier what makes Roethlisberger higher than his other QB counterparts is that he is a better football player than quarterback.
What makes Roethlisberger an elite quarterback and an even better football player is a drive that kicks in during close games.
Since entering the league Roethlisberger has been an integral part in a ridiculous 22 game winning drives. The average score needed to win those games was 22 points. I would say that Roethlisberger embodies “clutch” and it should definitely be noted in his placement.
Regardless of whether you believe winning is important or not the reality is that “you play to win the game.” Roethlisberger is simply a winner and the two championships the Steelers have captured under his regime – after a 26 year drought – prove that.
23.) Chris Snee, Right Guard, NYG
I think that we can agree that – as a quarterback – Eli Manning is the most important piece to the New York Giants. However after that I think that Chris Snee is far and away the second most important piece to the New York Giants. What makes this impressive is that just some ten odd years ago you would not have found yourself saying something like that about a guard.
I believe Chris Snee’s abilities can be best surmised with what I stated about him last year; “Chris Snee is an entire running game in and of himself.” Honestly it does not matter who is running for the New York Giants as long as Chris Snee is on the offensive line.
To hammer this previous point home let us take a look at the Giants run game production over the last six years of the last decade. More specifically let us look at their production while running right guard trap over that span.
In Snee’s rookie season he played in only 11 games due to a non-football related injury. In the 11 games he played in the Giants ran right guard trap 95 times for 475 yards and four touchdowns.
In his second season Snee got to play a full 16 games. He helped Tiki Barber to one of the better seasons all time by a halfback. When the G-Men ran right guard trap they managed 504 yards and 10 touchdowns on 108 carries.
Following up this amazing success Snee had an equally as impressive 2006. The Giants ran guard trap right 112 times for 578 yards and six touchdowns.
In 2007 Snee had what some consider his best season. In fact, he was an instrumental part in the Giants winning the Super Bowl. In the regular season they ran right guard trap a ridiculous 143 times. They managed 702 yards and seven touchdowns.
In 2008 Snee was ridiculously good again. Running right guard trap the Giants went for 644 yards and five touchdowns on 153 carries. They managed 35 first downs and 16 stuffs.
Although the Giants have started to move to a pass-first team as of 2009 their running production running right guard trap did not falter. Last season running right guard trap they ran 108 times for 433 yards and five touchdowns. They managed 24 first downs and a mere 10 stuffs.
Over the past six seasons with Chris Snee in the game the Giants have run right guard trap 719 times. Those 719 attempts have netted them 3,336 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns with over 200 first downs and less than 100 losses.
In the Chris Snee era the Giants have averaged 120 rushing attempts for 556 yards and six rushing touchdowns per season. Those numbers are downright ridiculous. This fact is heightened when you realize that the Giants have utilized four different halfbacks with great frequency over that period.
While Chris Snee has been a dominant run blocker he’s been a good pass blocker as well. Outside of his rookie season and his most recent season Snee averages an unofficial “official” two sacks per season. Not bad for the guy taken one round behind Eli Manning – the franchises’ face – to protect him
I sincerely doubt the Giants immediately realized what they accomplished in the 2004 draft. A franchise quarterback and a game changing right guard… talk about an excellent draft.
22.) Kevin Williams, Defensive Tackle, MIN
If you are a more casual NFL fan that just so happens to be reading this than there may be something that you are unaware of. This “something” is that there are two different designations of defensive tackles in the 4-3 defensive alignment.
The first designation of 4-3 defensive tackles is the nose tackle.
The primary job laid out for these guys is to stop the run. Whether it is by bringing down the ball carrier themselves or clogging the lanes, the nose tackle is often thought of as a key cog in a defense. Playing next to the nose tackle is the under tackle. The under tackle sometimes stuffs the run but they’re also expected to make athletic splash plays such as providing an inside pass rush.
If you want to know what a great under tackle looks like than look at Kevin Williams.
Kevin Williams is the type of athletic specimen that should not exist. Perhaps that is why he is far and away the best under tackle in the league right now.
At a “lean” six feet five inches tall and 311 pounds Williams has the size to move most guards and centers out of their run blocking lanes. In addition to his amazing strength Williams also has a great set of finesse moves that allow him to leave interior linemen in their wake as he comes crashing into the quarterback. As you could imagine that 311 pound frame crashing down on your body for a sack isn’t something to look forward to.
If I had to compare Kevin Williams to a player before his time then I would compare him to Warren Sapp.
Warren Sapp is considered by many to be the best under tackle to ever play the game. While I do not think that Williams can surpass Sapp with what time he has left in his career I do think that when his career is said and done Williams could be firmly nestled into that spot right behind Sapp on the all-time list.
Over his short seven year career Kevin Williams has been nothing but a playmaker. Williams has recorded at least 10 plays behind the line of scrimmage in every season he’s played in except for two. In those respective seasons he still had six and seven negative plays on the season. For his career Williams averages about seven sacks per season and an additional four-and-a-half run stuffs per season as well. However, Williams contributes with more than splash plays.
Splash plays are fine and dandy but anyone worth their football salt knows that splash plays mean nothing without the little things being done right/ What makes Williams so special is that he can make a splash play or turn around and do the little things leading to a splash play for another player. I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that while Williams isn’t the playmaker Sapp was he is a better run defender than Sapp was.
In addition to being an amazing run defender and a guy that is capable of making big time plays what I really like about Smith is his knack for the ball. Most defensive linemen rarely ever see the ball. Williams, however, knows how to get his hands up and has knocked down an average of six passes per season. He’s also brought down 2 interceptions which he barreled down field with the ball for a touchdown after.
21.) Julius Peppers, Defensive End, CHI
The fact that Julius Peppers has the ability to be on the top ten on this list is indicative of just how good of a player he is. In fact, if Julius Peppers still cared about the game the way that he once did than he could very well be the league’s top 4-3 defensive end. I guess that Peppers will have to “settle” for just being ranked at 21st.
Peppers’ has a ridiculous mixture of athleticism, talent and overall ability that I think no other 4-3 defensive end has. Peppers has amazing size at six feet and six inches as well as 283 pounds. He has ridiculous speed for somebody that size. His arm length allows him to move linemen, wrap up quarterbacks and knock down passes.
While it takes most people a couple of years to become acclimated to the National Football League such was not the case for Julius Peppers. Peppers came into the league as a disruptive force capable of racking up sacks while doing the extra incentives that you’d like of a defensive end. When you factor in all the incentives I don’t think that there has been a bigger defensive force in the front four since Peppers entered the league.
When you examine what Julius Peppers does from a statistics standpoint than he is a ridiculously good player.
In every year of his career except for two Julius Peppers has racked up double digit sacks. One of those two years happened to be a year in which he was probably the league’s defender that was gameplanned for the most in 2003. Despite this he still tallied double digit plays behind the line of scrimmage.
When you exclude the obvious down year that Peppers had in 2007 the average season that he has posted is ridiculous. In fact, his numbers average out to 11 sacks, four stuffs, four forced fumbles, six passes defensed and an interception. I feel as if I’ve said this multiple times in this piece but those averages are flat out ridiculous.
What makes those numbers even more impressive is the common belief that since 2007 Julius Peppers has been playing uninspired. Many people believe that he takes several downs a game off and it is true.
With that said I think that the fact that Peppers takes plays off and still produces so well makes him such a great player.
The reality is that although 0Peppers isn’t fully actualizing his talent he is still playing at a level comparable to the elite 4-3 defensive ends. In fact, his past two seasons against any other elite defensive end and it would be pretty darn close.
Even with the knock against Peppers due to his work ethic he still takes games over. I would argue that the only other 4-3 defensive ends that take games over as often as Peppers are Dwight Freeney and Jared Allen.
If you think that I am just imagining Peppers taking games over than I suggest you look at the footage from the Washington Redskins contest last season.
In that game Peppers tallied two sacks, half a run stuff which also was half of a safety. One of Peppers’ sacks was big in the fourth quarter where as the safety resulted in two points in a close three point game.
With a change in venue maybe Peppers is motivated again. If he is then who knows how far up on this list he will be next off-season.