Blue and Red Chip Players Examined: Is Lombardi Losing It?

Geoffrey MortonCorrespondent IIAugust 27, 2011

Blue and Red Chip Players Examined: Is Lombardi Losing It?

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    Recently, NFL analyst Michael Lombardi came out with his next list of blue chip and red chip offensive and defensive players. However, this time there were several major problems with his rankings. The big uproar is over the omission of Calvin Johnson from the blue chip receivers, but unfortunately that is only one of many mistakes made by Lombardi. This slideshow examines Lombardi's rankings for each offensive position and points out key errors with the rankings.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d821b7505/article/blue-chips-and-red-chips-offensive-position-rankings-?module=HP11_hot_topics 

    That is the link to the article, if anyone is curious.

QB: Puzzling Errors Highlight Rankings

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    Blue Chip: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees

    Red Chip: Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning

    The fact that there are six quarterbacks in the top five does not scratch the surface of the problems with the article as a whole. First, although Lombardi's quarterback rankings look relatively fine, his placement system is off. For instance, he leaves Tony Romo off the list because a shoulder injury last season caused him to miss most of the year. However, he also leaves Michael Vick off the Blue Chip list because Michael Vick only really took off last year.

    These two decisions are puzzling because one suggests that the list is largely based off of last year while the other suggests that Lombardi is examining careers as a whole. Of course, the flaws with the quarterback rankings are small, so let's move on.

    How it should look:

    Blue Chip: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees

    Red Chip: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick

RB: Steven Jackson Better Than Foster? Not in This World...

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    Blue Chip: Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Ray Rice, Steven Jackson

    Red Chip: DeAngelo Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Rashard Mendenhall

    This may be the most inaccurate part of the article. First, last year's rushing king, Arian Foster, is behind Steven Jackson, the most overrated back in the NFL. Even if Lombardi is judging by careers and not by last year only (who knows?), Jackson barely makes red-chip. He has only scored double digit touchdowns once in his career and last year he scored only six touchdowns with a 3.8 yard rushing average. Those aren't the kind of stats that are typical for a back who "has an obvious impact on the outcome of the game" and has a "consistent championship-level performance." Foster, who dominated last year and practically defined Lombardi's blue chip criteria, is only a red chip.

    I am a huge Ray Rice fan, but his placement over Foster, MJD, and Jamaal Charles also puzzles me. All three more than qualify for blue chip placement but Rice doesn't quite make the cut. Then there is the placement of DeAngelo Williams on the red chip list, which was understandable in 2008 but not 2011 when guys like Frank Gore and Darren McFadden didn't make it.

    How it should look:

    Blue Chip: Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster

    Red Chip: Darren McFadden, Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Turner

WR: Megatron Wasn't the Only One Who Was Snubbed

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    Blue Chip: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, Roddy White

    Red Chip: Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Santonio Holmes, Steve Smith CAR, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson

    At this point I was really questioning what was going on in Michael Lombardi's head as he was writing this. First of all, the league leader in touchdown receptions last year, Dwayne Bowe, was somehow completely snubbed, meaning he is not a top 15 receiver or an impact player in Lombardi's eyes. Yet somehow, Steve Smith from the Panthers is. Again, is this 2008? That's another Panther who was a joke last year and yet somehow managed to knock a valuable player off the rankings.

    Of course, Lombardi did get some things right. I agree with his placement of four out of the five blue chip players. The one I disagree with however, is Greg Jennings. Why? Because for some strange reason, Greg Jennings is listed as better than CALVIN JOHNSON. The same Calvin Johnson who had one more reception, only 100 less yards, and the same amount of touchdown receptions as Greg Jennings. The only difference? Greg Jennings got to play with Donald Driver and Aaron Rodgers. Calvin Johnson had Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton, and Nate Burleson. Notice a difference in the quality of the talent around each receiver? And yet Calvin Johnson still put up numbers that should definitely qualify him for a top five or even top three spot at receiver. And yet, Greg Jennings, true to his overrated nature, got the nod.

    How it should look:

    Blue Chip: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson

    Red Chip: Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Santonio Holmes, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson

TE: For Once, No Mistakes

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    Blue Chip: Marcedes Lewis, Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis

    Red Chip: Jermichael Finley, Kellen Winslow, Zach Miller, Visanthe Shiancoe, Heath Miller 

    For once, Lombardi is right. Although Finley was injured last year, he is very good when healthy and I'll give him that one. He also gave credit to an underrated Heath Miller.

OT: A Notable Omission

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    Blue Chip: Jake Long, Marcus McNeill, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Donald Penn, Joe Thomas

    Red Chip: Jason Peters, Michael Roos, Chad Clifton, Joe Staley, Jordan Gross

    As I read Lombardi's rankings of the offensive tackles, I didn't see much to be upset about. Arguments could be made for guys like Jordan Gross and Michael Roos to be in the top five over Donald Penn and Marcus McNeill, but there were no glaring errors. Of course, then I realized that RYAN CLADY WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Clady, who has sometimes been considered a top three tackle, doesn't even crack the top ten in Lombardi's book. While most of this list is in order, it is completely falsified by the fact that Ryan Clady is not listed.

    How it should look:

    Blue Chip: Jake Long, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Ryan Clady, Joe Thomas, Marcus McNeill

    Red Chip: Michael Roos, Donald Penn, Jordan Gross, Jason Peters, Chad Clifton

OG: Nicks Left out of Top Five

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    Blue Chip: Jahri Evans, Chris Snee, Logan Mankins, Steve Hutchinson, Josh Sitton

    Red Chip: Carl Nicks, Harvey Dahl, Kris Dielman, Davin Moore, Brandon Joseph

    As Lombardi notes, Ben Grubbs and Eric Steinbach are left off the list even though both have a lot of talent. However, I agree that neither is quite as good as the players on this list. What does irk me though is the omission of Carl Nicks from the top five. Nicks, the Saints guard opposite Jahri Evans, has sometimes been called better than Evans, and is widely recognized as on the same level as Evans. And because Snee, Hutchinson, Mankins, and Evans are locks for the top five, Sitton will have to give up his spot for Evans.

    How it should look:

    Blue Chip: Jahri Evans, Chris Snee, Logan Mankins, Steve Hutchinson, Carl Nicks

    Red Chip: Josh Sitton, Harvey Dahl, Kris Dielman, Davin Moore, Brandon Joseph

C: Shaun O'Hara and Jeff Saturday Excluded

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    Blue Chip: Ryan Kalil, Nick Mangold, Nick Hardwick, Maurkice Pouncey, Alex Mack

    Red Chip: Andre Gurode, Ryan Cook, Max Unger

    Looking at this list, I can't say I have any problems with the players that are on here. However, I do have a problem with Shaun O'Hara and Jeff Saturday being snubbed when there were two open spots for them. Both are well into their 30's and have started to decline skill-wise, but both are still elite centers. I also consider Maurkice Pouncey to be in between a blue chip and a red chip, but for simplicity's sake I'll leave him there.

    Blue Chip: Ryan Kalil, Nick Mangold, Nick Hardwick, Maurkice Pouncey, Alex Mack

    Red Chip: Max Unger, Andre Gurode, Ryan Cook, Jeff Saturday, Shaun O'Hara

In Conclusion...

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    All in all, Michael Lombardi should think long and hard before he does another one of these rankings. Dwayne Bowe, Jeff Saturday, Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, Arian Foster, Ryan Clady, and many other players were snubbed unjustly while others enjoyed a top five ranking they did not earn. Of course it is obvious that Lombardi's opinions differ from my own and I tried not to point out minor changes that I would've made, just major ones. However, I still had more than enough to work with, as shown by the countless problems I had with the rankings.

    Hopefully when next year's list is published it looks nothing like this year's disaster.