This is my All 2011 NFC East 53-man roster, based on their play in 2011. If we were to put this team up against the 53-man rosters of the other 7 divisions, the NFC East might not win a game. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s just get right to it:
Red = starter. Blue = reserve. Black = On the team but inactive.
This is the debate of course among NFC East fans. If I’m in charge, I’m starting Eli Manning. I understand that Tony Romo had better numbers, but I simply wouldn’t trust him as my QB. I just can’t get past Romo’s meltdowns against the Jets and Lions, and overreactions aside, Eli’s clutch drives against the Cardinals, Pats, Packers, and Cowboys were most definitely impressive. Eli had a great season, and I’ll repeat the mantra that I hear regularly from his supporters – He had no run game this season, his defense stunk, and his offensive line stunk, and he lost a couple key receivers in the offseason. He’s not elite, but he was the best QB in the NFCE this season. In fact, Romo technically isn’t even my 2. I’ll be finding ways to make use of the unique abilities of Michael Vick in some situations. Romo only plays if Eli gets hurt.
LeSean McCoy all day. He isn’t coming off the field unless he asks for a breather. DeMarco Murray is my 2. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see a full season of him. His time will come next year. Ahmad Bradshaw is my 3.
Um, Darrel Young? Sure, why not? At least he did this to Patrick Willis. (Don’t expect much from that link. I mean, it’s OK, but it’s not that great. But at least it’s something.) And yes, I’m picking my FB for this team solely on one mediocre youtube highlight.
Ugh. Remember when the NFC East had the best receivers in the league, hands down? Yeah, uh, not so much in 2011. Victor Cruz already got love from me this week. He starts along with teammate Hakeem Nicks. And then it gets ugly. Who do you take here? Jeremy Maclin and Miles Austin had some big games, but they missed too much time. DeSean Jackson? No way. I think my 3 is Laurent Robinson. Here’s a look at what Robinson did this year in comparison to teammate Dez Bryant:
Robinson is my 3. Jabar Gaffney is my 4. It’s kind of crazy that Gaffney’s numbers in 2011 were better than DeSean Jackson’s across the board. Now let’s see… Who’s my 5? (searching hard for someone other than Dez Bryant). (Still searching). Dammit. I guess I have to deal with loan sharks and annoying agents hanging around the practice field. You can “focus” (and I use that term loosely) on kick and punt returns, Dez.
Jason Witten, obviously. And you know what, Brent Celek is starting too. We’re going with a ton of 2-TE sets. Celek’s numbers the first 5 games of the season: 9 catches, 73 yards, 0 TD. The last 10? 47 catches, 652 yards, 4 TD. I’d also like to send a message by not including Fred Davis on my team, but who am I kidding? We need him on this sorry-ass offense.
I don’t see a lot of Joe Thomas. Joe Thomas plays on the Browns, and really, who watches the Browns? Joe Thomas seems to be the unanimous choice for “the best LT in football” whenever that distinction is thrown around. With that disclaimer in place, I find it hard to believe Joe Thomas played better this season than Jason Peters. Here was a great find by my boy Sumith at Bleeding Green Nation of Peters catching a TD pass in college. The guy was a DE that they converted to a TE, that got moved to LT in the pros. Amazing athleticism for such a big, strong human:
I’m moving Todd Herremans back to his original spot at LG. Herremans had a good year at RT, and deserved to start there on this team, but with so much awfulness on the interior OL in the NFCE, I’m moving him to guard to team up once again with Peters on the left side. To make room for Herremans, Evan Mathis is being shifted over to RG. Sorry Chris Snee, you just didn’t have a good season, but by default, I guess it was good enough to make it as a reserve. Tyron Smith starts at RT. Very good season… for a rookie. But again, I felt that Herremans was better. And who to take at C? Oof. There are no good choices here, but I’ll settle on Will Montgomery here. My other reserves are Will Beatty and Jason Kelce. I’m only keeping 8, and praying that nobody gets hurt (kinda the way Jerry Jones has done it for the last decade… *shudders*).
Hey hey now! Finally a major strength! I’m going ridiculously deep here, and rotating the crap out of my D Linemen. Really, our Front 7 is the only way we’re going to win games. I’m not even sure what we’re going to run. A 4-3? 3-4? A hybrid? Maybe a 46 would make sense with this group? Or maybe something really cool I don’t even know about. I’m just going to get the best players on the field and see what happens. Jason Babin has 18 sacks, and Jason Pierre-Paul is an absolute force of nature. They’re my starting DEs. At DT, Cullen Jenkins and Jay Ratliff are sort of no-brainers. Trent Cole had a very “Trent Cole-like” season, picking up 10 sacks and playing stellar run D from the DE position. I’m also bringing Osi Umenyiora with me. He’s a mega pain-in-the-ass and he can’t stay healthy, but when he plays, he’s a great pass rusher (7 sacks in just 345 snaps). He makes the 53-man roster, but is inactive. Stephen Bowen makes the team, partly due to his production (7 sacks), and partly because of his example. Bowen is also inactive. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan also make the cut, although Orakpo had a somewhat disappointing season. DeMarcus Ware is obviously starting. Not sure if he’s a LB or what in my undefined defense, but he’s on the field. I was also surprised with how well Mathias Kiwanuka played this season at LB. He was great against the run. He’ll split snaps with teammate Michael Boley, who will get most of the coverage responsibilities. The most under-appreciated player of the last decade, London Fletcher, starts over Sean Lee at MLB. I’m bringing a handful of hustle guys for the interior as well. Derek Landri and Sean Lissemore are in, although I’m keeping Lissemore inactive. I also like the idea of pairing Chris Canty next to JPP on the FG block team, but I’m leaving him inactive as well. Mike Patterson makes it as a short yardage and goal line specialist. I’m also recognizing Lorenzo Alexander here for his special teams contributions, but he’s inactive.
Well, if the Front 7 doesn’t get pressure, we’re screwed. Corey Webster, has at least been steady and consistent, if not spectacular. He starts alongside Nnamdi Asomugha, who had a down year, but was still better than anyone else you might consider here. I really tried to leave Asante Samuel off the team, but I just can’t, because the NFCE’s corners just aren’t worthy. Josh Wilson is my dime back. Kenny Phillips and Gerald Sensabaugh are my safeties, God help us. Oshiomogho Atogwe is my primary backup at safety, with Colt Anderson (get well soon) serving as a special teams maven. We’re in big trouble here.
Alex Henery missed 2 field goals this season (3 if you count an unmakable 60+ yarder at the end of a half). Unfortunately, those 2 misses when easy kicks that came in the second half of the 49ers game that the Eagles lost by 1. Dan Bailey went on a tear this season, rattling off 26 consecutive FGs including a few game winners, but was shaky of late. Still, he gets the nod. Three punters are worthy of recognition here, but I’ll take Sav Rocca. And obviously, Jon Dorenbos is an MVP candidate, so he’s our long snapper.