NFL Top 100: 10 Biggest Mistakes on the NFL Network Top 100 Players List
The Top 100 Players of 2011 produced by the NFL Network provided fans an escape from the harsh reality that the NFL season may not start on time.
It will allow fans to rack their brains and debate about anything and everything about the list until the players and owners figure out a way to settle their dispute.
The list, which was capped off Sunday night by unveiling the top 10 players, was voted on by players and took into consideration who would be the best player in 2011, and not who had the best career.
A classic example of this can be seen with Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.
By the end of the 2011 season, Gonzalez will likely have the second most receptions in NFL history. But at 34, Gonzalez may be on the decline while Gates, who is 30, may have more to offer next season.
The list I am presenting talks about errors and omissions I see with the NFL Network countdown.
The higher the ranking, the more egregious the mistake.
No. 10: Where's LeSean McCoy?
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Last season, LeSean McCoy played in 15 games, rushed for 1,080 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
The stats are not earth-shatterting, but going into his third season, he can easily be seen as one of the best young running backs in the NFL.
But if I'm going to worry about McCoy on the list I need to figure out who comes off the list.
The first thing I did was look at the lowest ranked running back. Enter Darren McFadden.
The second thing I did was look at McFadden's stats. McFadden only played in 13 games, rushed for 1,157 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
McFadden played in fewer games and still had better stats. It would make most people say, "Imagine if he played a full season."
As soon as that thought entered my mind I took value away from McFadden. Aren't running backs judged in part by their durability? In three years, McFadden has never played in all 16 games.
Going into 2011, I have to think the trend will continue.
To cap it off for McCoy he finished 2010 as the team's leading receiver with 78 receptions for 592 yards while McFadden only had 47 receptions for 507 yards.
And can't we take Donovan McNabb off the list at No. 100?
It seems like the players threw him a bone after Mike Shanahan threw him under the bus.
No. 9: Too Many Defensive Players in the Top 10
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Defenses no longer win championships.
Super Bowls are now won by teams building great offenses and fielding a defense that is at least good enough to stop a nosebleed, which wasn't the case in New England last year and was pointed out by Bart Scott after the New York Jets took out their rival.
I know this because they can't stop those players. And if you can't stop them, how can you be better?
To further illustrate why there are too many defensive players, take a look at Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
They were on the field when the Pittsburgh Steelers erased a 21-7 halftime deficit in the playoffs last year.
If those players are truly top-10 players, they find a way to win that game or come up with a stop when they needed one.
You can think your football IQ is high by having a handful of defensive players in the top 10, or you can be honest and search for the best players on the offensive side of the ball.
I'm not saying there shouldn't be any defensive players in the top 10. But to have five is too much.
No. 8: Jared Allen Gets Disrespected
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Here's some love for defensive players in case you think I'm completely biased to quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Jared Allen has averaged over 11 sacks per season in his first seven years. That total is higher than Julius Peppers, who finished at No. 10 on the list.
With offenses dominating the NFL, defenses rely on shutdown comebacks and creative blitz packages and schemes to slow down teams like Green Bay and Philadelphia.
The great thing about Allen is he doesn't pick up coverage sacks, and he doesn't need a blitz to get heat on the quarterback.
He posses incredible quickness and pure strength to get into the backfield.
And maybe that's what's so great about Allen. He can beat a tackle with a variety of moves and techniques.
Here are a couple defensive ends, as listed by the NFL Network, who should be behind Jared Allen: Trent Cole, Justin Tuck, Tamba Hali and Richard Seymour.
No. 7: Philip Rivers and Michael Vick Aren't Better Than Big Ben
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Ben Roethlisberger has 10 career playoff wins and two Super Bowls.
As I have mentioned, the top 100 list is not about career accomplishments, it is about who will be the best in 2011. But in this case, it's hard to ignore the past, especially when the more successful player is the youngest.
If Roethlisberger was old and on the decline I could understand the argument. But since the opposite is true, Big Ben cannot be behind these two guys until Vick starts to win and Rivers stops choking.
The other edge Roethlisberger holds is his health.
Last year Michael Vick missed four games due to injury while Big Ben played despite having his nose broken and his foot sprained.
Once Vick and Rivers win, they can move past Roethlisberger. Until then, they have to take a back seat to Big Ben.
No. 6: Ed Reed Ranked Higher Than Troy Polamalu
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Ed Reed and Tory Polamalu play an aggressive style of football that often leads to injury.
When Reed goes out for a game or two, the Ravens piece things together and life goes on.
When Polamalu gets knocked out, Steel City comes to a screeching halt.
Reed has benefited from a system that apples pressure to the quarterback and allows him to float around in the secondary and play as a ball-hawking safety.
Polamalu tries to make up for the deficiencies around him and relies on his abilities to make his own plays.
Reed will ultimately go into the Hall of Fame, and that's good news for Polamalu because it guarantees his place in Canton, since he's a better all-around safety than Reed.
No. 5: Greg Jennings Not Included in Top 20
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Greg Jennings ranked 18th in receptions with 76, fourth in yards with 1,265 and second in touchdown receptions with 12.
He allowed Green Bay to overcome a sub-standard running game due to Ryan Grant's injury and covered up an a hole created by an injury to Jermichael Finely.
All of it allowed the Packers to win the Super Bowl.
I'm not going to even begin about my complaint with Miles Austin. All you need to know is Jennings is ranked No. 74 and players like Vonta Leach and Asante Samuel are ranked above him.
No. 4: Chris Johnson Outside the Top 10
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Imagine you enter the NFL and in your first three years, you go into a huddle and see Kerry Collins as your quarterback.
It would probably be a terrifying realization.
Things would get worse when Vince Young comes in, and then you're in a full panic when Rusty Smith shows up.
Somehow Chris Johnson overcame a mediocre passing game and has rushed for 4,598 yards while also coming out of the backfield to serve as a safety valve in the passing game.
One could argue he is better than Adrian Peterson, who was ranked as the No. 3 player. If that's the case, he has to be in the top 10.
No. 3: Ray Lewis as the Best Defensive Player
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Ray Lewis may go down as the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game.
The top 100 list is not about determining all-time greats. It's about selecting the best player in 2011.
At 36 years old and entering his 16th season, I can't see Lewis having a better 2011 campaign than Darrelle Revis, Patrick Willis or James Harrison to name a few defensive players.
I'm sure he'll have some catchy phrase to yell at his teammates during warmups, and I'm sure he'll make sure he does it in front of the camera and microphones. But to think he is the best defensive player in the league is not something I am willing to accept.
If he does emerge as the Defensive Player of the Year, I will eat crow.
No. 2: Aaron Rodgers Snubbed out of Top 10
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Drew Brees came in at No. 9 after finishing last season with a loss in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks.
Aaron Rodgers finished at No. 11 in the poll after winning the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP.
It doesn't make sense.
If it were a career comparison, Rodgers would have to prove his worth for a couple more seasons and validate what he did in 2010.
The most glaring error, though, is Ray Lewis. If you honestly think Lewis is better than Rodgers, you need your head examined.
No. 1: Reggie Wayne Placed Behind DeSean Jackson
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When I saw DeSean Jackson was ranked higher than Reggie Wayne, I began to question the players' credibility.
In three seasons, Jackson has caught 62, 63 and 47 passes.
During that same time frame, Reggie Wayne had 82, 100 and 111 receptions.
I should stop right there, but I know I can't. All of the Jackson fans will whine and complain about the fact I am ignoring Jackson's ability to score a touchdown any time he touches the ball and his an ability to return punts.
Look, saying a player can score a touchdown any time they touch the ball sounds good in theory.
Too bad it hasn't materialized to more than nine touchdown catches in a season. In case you were wondering, Wayne has three seasons of double digit touchdowns.
As for Jackson's great punt return stats, he had 20 punt returns last year and scored one touchdown.
If it weren't for Matt Dodge going braindead, it would be 20 punts returns for zero touchdowns.
Yes, it was the greatest regular season game I've seen in Eagles history. And it was even better because it happened against the Giants. But you can't let one play warp your mind and make you believe someone is better than what they actually are.