Chris Simms' All-22 Team for NFL Week 12

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystNovember 30, 2016

Chris Simms' All-22 Team for NFL Week 12

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    Can you name the only Texas Longhorn drafted in 2016? 

    It's Hassan Ridgeway. If you answered correctly, you're either wearing burnt orange, or you have Google as your default browser. Either one tells you why my alma mater needed to move on from the Charlie Strong era.

    So in comes one of my former grad assistants to take the job. That's right: Tom Herman and I crossed paths at UT-Austin; I was a freshman and sophomore while he helped out on Mack Brown's staff. I won't pretend he and I were best buddies, but I did notice his confidence. The way he interacted with players oozed enough charisma to make me think he had a future. I'd have that same feeling again with a brash defensive backs coach on Jon Gruden's Buccaneers staff. His name? Mike Tomlin.

    Tomlin only needs to win over a fanbase in his job. Herman has to win over Longhorns Nation, chock-full of billionaire boosters who think they know where Texas can find its next Vince Young. Oh, and he actually has to find the next Young—or players capable of carrying on Texas' tradition in the NFL (and on my All-22 team, where I've only placed two Texas alums all year).

    I wish Herman nothing but the best. If he's still as charismatic and marketable as when we met, the NFL's about to see plenty more Hassan Ridgeways.

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Remember those old quarterback challenges on ESPN? My dad took me to a few—and set me up as Dan Marino's or John Elway's warm-up partner.

    So I know how those two legends throw the football. And I know neither of them is in the same class as what Aaron Rodgers is going through right now.

    His latest clinic on Monday Night Football ends any debate. Rodgers' second touchdown—a pinpoint dime from 20 yards out to the back of the Eagles end zone—was quarterbacking at its absolute finest. No other guy makes that throw look as easy, present or past.

QB: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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    Quarterbacks simply don't try to fit in deep sideline throws against Cover 2. The degree of difficulty (think: Eli Manning in Super Bowl 46) is too high.

    Ryan Tannehill made it look as easy as a slant pattern. His 43-yard go route to Kenny Stills was a textbook dime—right behind Tramaine Brock at corner, but right in front of an oncoming Antoine Bethea at safety. Jaw-dropping.

    He wasn't done yet. Tannehill laced throws to Dion Sims and Leonte Carroo with the precision and accuracy of a guy with 10 seasons in the same offense. I have to remind myself this is his first year under Adam Gase, and his future's only getting brighter down in South Beach.

QB: Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos

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    Three quarterbacks? Absolutely.

    Trevor Siemian has just as much of a stake to his All-22 spot as any QB has this season. Siemian is no longer the timid signal-caller we saw in the early going. On film, it's plain to see he's coming into his own as a downfield passer.

    Just ask Emmanuel Sanders, who reeled in perfectly placed Siemian throws all night. Or Jordan Taylor, the favorite warm-up partner of Peyton Manning who benefited from a Siemian scramble drill No. 18 was never athletic enough to pull off.

    There aren't a lot of quarterbacks who can evade Justin Houston, reverse their field and throw a touchdown strike. Denver must realize it has one in Siemian.

RB: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    It's easy to pinpoint Le'Veon Bell's go-to trait—that Barry Sanders-like patience—as the catalyst for his recent explosion.

    But Bell now picks when to wait and when to explode through the open hole. When he chooses the latter, he's doing so with no inkling of a surgically repaired knee.

    Bell could've run for 250 yards on Thanksgiving. Instead, he looked bored running for 120 and catching four passes for 22 more. He's the only running back on my All-22 list this week and the only one playing at a Hall of Fame level right now.

WR: Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets

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    New York Jets fans finally have a butt to be proud of.

    It belongs to Quincy Enunwa, the team's new No. 1 receiver. And unlike Mark Sanchez's fabled fumble, Enunwa used his rear-end moment to help Gang Green. Kudos to the Nebraska product for having the presence of mind to A) catch a football over Malcolm Butler and B) get a cheek-leg combination in bounds for a fourth-quarter score.

    Butler fell victim to more than just Enunwa's "buttchdown." New England's top cornerback was flat-out beaten off the line on a deep Ryan Fitzpatrick completion. I couldn't believe it.

    Remember: Butler shut down Odell Beckham Jr. this time last year. He was outmatched against Enunwa.

WR: Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons

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    Julio Jones can't be the only guy catching passes if Atlanta wants to mount a serious playoff run.

    So Taylor Gabriel's arrival is right on time. He's the quintessential Kyle Shanahan receiver: quick off the line, fast with the football and versatile as hell.

    That last trait is going to get him tons of looks down the stretch from Matt Ryan. Shanahan is aware of the open space left when teams seek to double and triple Jones. On Sunday, he leveraged that advantage with Gabriel screens and quick throws.

    All the Browns castoff did was find the end zone twice on four catches.

WR: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

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    When it comes to Tyreek Hill, I love to say I told you so.

    Hill stuck out like a sore thumb during my preseason tape reviews. Twelve weeks later, he's broken through the rookie ceiling to become Kansas City's most dangerous offensive threat since Priest Holmes.

    That's right. Neither Travis Kelce nor Jeremy Maclin can do what Hill did to the Denver Broncos. He averaged (averaged!) 13 yards every time he touched the football. It speaks volumes that Alex Smith looked his way on a late 4th-and-10 pass, too.

    He also found the end zone three different ways—running, receiving and kickoff returning. The last person to do that was Gale Sayers over 50 years ago.

TE: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

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    Regular humans aren't supposed to function with a separated shoulder.

    So that makes Jordan Reed what? An alien? He pulled down 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns—an otherworldly performance with two good arms, let alone one.

    But one was all Reed needed on a deep sideline throw late in the third quarter. One play later, Washington's receiver in a 246-pound tight end's body reached up (again in spite of that shoulder) to pluck a ball out of the air in the end zone. Unbelievable.

OL: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

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    Brandon who?

    Oh, Brandon Graham. It was easy to forget about Philadelphia's star edge-rusher on Monday Night Football, though. That was all David Bakhtiari's doing.

    Green Bay's left tackle gave Aaron Rodgers the one element he needed to move his offense: time. Graham and Co. were a non-factor, which allowed No. 12 to bounce around behind the line of scrimmage. In turn, Rodgers' receivers had tons of opportunities to break free.

OL: Brandon Scherff, Washington Redskins

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    I know Dallas' edge-rushing situation doesn't put fear in any offense.

    What it lacks in ends, it makes up for in tackles. From Tyrone Crawford to Cedric Thornton, the Cowboys are about six-deep right up the middle of their defense. Brandon Scherff stonewalled every guy thrown his way.

    It's even more impressive when you factor in the sheer volume of Dallas' chances. Kirk Cousins threw 53 times on Thanksgiving afternoon. Not one of those impact D-tackles made a dent in his throwing motion, and that's on Scherff.

OL: Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders

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    Carolina's Kawann Short-Star Lotulelei-Vernon Butler triad shut down Latavius Murray on the ground (19 carries, 45 yards).

    Rodney Hudson stopped the defense there. In a game that needed to be won in the air, he orchestrated a Raiders passing attack that kept Derek Carr relatively clean, save for a dislocated pinky finger.

    Protecting that pinky finger landed Hudson on this All-22 list. One or two errant snaps could've meant extreme pain for Carr—and perhaps another fumble. The big-ticket center hit his desired target on every down, though.

DL: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers

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    Think about the pass-rushers in the AFC West.

    Now put Joey Bosa's name right among them. San Diego's quarterback hunter belongs in a division that features Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Justin Houston. Those names won't outshine his for much longer.

    At least, that's what his Week 12 film suggests. Bosa didn't stop at haunting Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler off his left side for 60 minutes. He used a vicious spin move and terrific hand placement to limit Lamar Miller's effectiveness as a ball-carrier.

    All the great pass-rushers play the run in this league. Bosa just joined their ranks in a big way.

DL: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

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    Any player has to be downright Hall of Fame-worthy to make this list five times.

    So fit Khalil Mack for his gold jacket already. Oakland's All-Pro pass-rusher is doing things I've never seen before on a football field.

    His Week 12 pick-six off Cam Newton was one of them. Mack held up mid-rush, didn't fall for a Newton fake, caught the football like a wide receiver and ran it back from six yards out to help make it 24-7. He added a freakish leap into "The Black Hole" just because he can.

    Oh, and Mack ended the game on a Newton strip-sack. He is in a class of his own.

DL: Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    One of two things happened when Russell Wilson dropped back to pass Sunday.

    The first: Gerald McCoy embarrassed Seahawks guard Germain Ifedi from his 3-technique tackle spot, shoving his hands away and shooting the gap. That forced Wilson to heave up a throw from the pocket with a 6'4", 300-pound monster right in his face.

    The second: Wilson would roll out, only to be chased by that same monster, who looked like a defensive end. Wilson couldn't set his feet and throw comfortably.

    Neither option helped the Seahawks' winning odds. Add in 1.5 sacks and you have a dominant day from McCoy.

LB: Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Justin Houston makes Kansas City's defense unfair—but so much fun to watch.

    His return from a knee injury couldn't have come at a better moment. The Chiefs were without top sacker Dee Ford (hamstring); they ended up getting a better version of him on the field against the Broncos. Again, it's just not fair.

    Houston's power moves showed no sign of rust. On his first of three sacks, he powered by a weaker Ty Sambrailo. Did I mention adding Houston to this defense is unfair?

    His speed moves were on point, too. On Denver's safety, Houston lined up at defensive tackle and ran a stunt. Two steps later, he split guard Max Garcia and tackle Russell Okung. Two steps after that, he was mowing down All-22 quarterback Trevor Siemian in the end zone.

LB: Von Miller, Denver Broncos

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    He's Von Miller. Any questions?

    His sacks could be featured on an instructional video for young pass-rushers. And two of his three sacks came at crucial moments of a close Sunday night game.

    Take Miller's first sack. He blew by Mitchell Schwartz (a sound technician himself) with incredible speed. And he shocked the hell out of Alex Smith, who was dropped just as he tried to start a two-minute drill.

    Miller's second sack happened in similar circumstances. This time, he bull-rushed 321-pounder Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and pushed right back into Smith's lap. Two-minute drill ruined.

LB: Dannell Ellerbe, New Orleans Saints

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    Dannell Ellerbe has been back for weeks from a two-month injury hiatus.

    He hasn't been back until now, though. The Georgia product is a different beast now that he's healthy. New Orleans' defense is reaping all the rewards.

    In Ellerbe, the Saints have a run-stopping linebacker (the Rams' Todd Gurley ran for 50 yards) who can stay on the field on third down. In fact, Ellerbe's blitzing ability made him an asset in Week 12. L.A.'s blockers couldn't protect Jared Goff when the defender shot the gap with pure power in the fourth quarter.

    There's a reason Ellerbe played over 90 percent of the Saints' defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. They want him out there making plays in crunch time.

LB: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Russell Wilson ran due to necessity in this game (see: Gerald McCoy), racking up 80 ground yards on eight carries.

    That Wilson didn't go for 180 yards is a testament to Lavonte David's play. No other Buccaneers 'backer was up for containing Seattle's scrambling quarterback. When David did it, the damage was minimized.

    Then David dealt some damage of his own. His coverage in the middle of the field against Jimmy Graham and running back checkdowns was airtight. So No. 54 was right on the spot to strip Graham (in field-goal range), recover the fumble and keep Tampa Bay's nine-point fourth-quarter lead intact.

DB: Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Denver sacrificed Demaryius Thomas at the altar of Kansas City's coverage god.

    In turn, it was guaranteed life after regulation. Because we've seen what Marcus Peters can do when footballs are thrown up in close games, Trevor Siemian opted to take his chances on whatever side Peters wasn't.

    The end result was a lockdown of epic proportions. According to Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke, Peters allowed only 19 yards in coverage in Week 12. Thomas (60 yards on five catches) had to look elsewhere for his work.

DB: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

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    There's not a team in football more adept at drawing up big passing plays than Atlanta is.

    So hats off to Patrick Peterson, the only Cardinals cornerback to hold up for all 60 minutes of coverage in Week 12.

    Peterson was asked to do so much through all four quarters. On tape, it's clear Arizona put him on an island in man-to-man coverage against Julio Jones...and asked him to hold it. He allowed three catches for 31 yards to Atlanta's top receiver, according to Pro Football Focus.

    That's a win.

DB: Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

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    A bogus pass-interference call could've spoiled Darius Slay's Thanksgiving appetite.

    Instead, he got up for seconds.

    Detroit's cornerback extraordinaire broke on an overused Vikings route—the short crossing route—and won the game with an interception, bad call and all.

    It's time we give Slay his just desserts. He's been a borderline top-10 cornerback since last season, and quarterbacks still test him. Maybe that will change when the Lions make the playoffs.

DB: Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    My former Titans teammate lost his father two days before kickoff.

    Alterraun Verner responded with his best game as a Buccaneer. He has to make my All-22 list for that.

    Verner isn't what I'd call a lockdown cornerback. He's not the best man-on-man cover guy on his team, even. But even dating back to our days in Nashville, I was constantly amazed at his feel for the game. He always had a sense of when a ball was arriving and when he could throw up his sticky hands to grab it.

    If only Russell Wilson knew what I knew. Seattle tried a long seam throw that Verner sensed right off the bat. He undercut the football and contributed to a big ol' upset.

Full Week 12 All-22 Team

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    QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    QB: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

    QB: Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos

    RB: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

    WR: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

    WR: Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets

    WR: Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons

    TE: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

    OL: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

    OL: Brandon Scherff, Washington Redskins

    OL: Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders

    DL: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers

    DL: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

    DL: Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    LB: Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs

    LB: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    LB: Von Miller, Denver Broncos

    LB: Dannell Ellerbe, New Orleans Saints

    DB: Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs

    DB: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

    DB: Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    DB: Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

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