View Full Version : USA Today All-Joe team

01-27-2010, 06:36 AM
USA TODAY's 18th All-Joe team featuring a winning core of players … but they might need bonus checks since they're missing other contract escalators.
Our Joes are not average, but rather unheralded, unloved and, sometimes, underpaid since the one prerequisite for being an All-Joe is that you cannot have a Pro Bowl on your résumé. Luckily, 16% of the Pro Bowl's roster spots this year were re-opened when the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints graduated to Super Bowl XLIV and took their all-stars with them.

That meant saying goodbye to former Joes such as Steelers tight end Heath Miller and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and prospective ones such as Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley. And with a shrinking pool of Joes to choose from, it also meant adopting a more exclusive "all-pro Joe" format this year rather than serving a cup of Joe to each conference as in years past.

Most importantly, we gladly renounce the rights to All-Joe all-timer London Fletcher of the Redskins, whose Joe eligibility should have been exhausted long ago. The linebacker who's made 100-plus tackles for 11 consecutive years and whose streak of 192 consecutive starts is second only to Brett Favre among active players finally got his Pro Bowl promotion when New Orleans' Jonathan Vilma vacated his spot.

"I'm extremely ecstatic," Fletcher said. "It is a long time coming — 12 years and one overtime later but it was worth the wait."

Here's hoping some current Joes —Bengals tailback Cedric Benson, Jets linebacker David Harris and Chargers punter Mike Scifres stand out — don't have to endure nearly the wait Fletcher did.

LAST YEAR'S TEAM: 2008 All-Joe squad

About the team: The All-Joe team was born in 1992 as a tribute to Joe Phillips, a 14-year defensive lineman who did yeoman's work for the Chiefs that season. His work in the trenches didn't lead to much glory … unless you point to the 29 combined sacks of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith, Kansas City's fifth-ranked defense or the team's wild-card run. USA TODAY has honored the unsung Joes of the NFL ever since.




QB: Joe Flacco, Ravens— Who more appropriate to lead the All-Joe team than Joe Cool? The sophomore continued to blossom in the passing game while taking a greater role in leading Baltimore back to the postseason. Alex Smith, 49ers— The former No. 1 pick waited for a chance to revive his career then did just that after becoming a starter in November. Matt Moore, Panthers— Every team needs a good emergency quarterback, so why not pick a guy who won four of his five starts after replacing Jake Delhomme and outdueled Brett Favre and Eli Manning along the way.

RB: Cedric Benson, Bengals— A consummate hard hat guy, he led the NFL with 23.2 carries per game and rushed for a career-best 1,251 yards in just 13 games for the AFC North champs. Fred Jackson, Bills— Did you know his 2,516 all-purpose yards were the fourth-most ever? Did you know he became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards and have 1,000 kickoff return yards in the same season? Quite a year for undrafted former Division III standout. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers— Pro Bowler DeAngelo Williams' backup only started three games, but led Carolina with 1,133 yards on the ground despite battling foot and Achilles' problems. Stewart and Williams became the first teammates to both rush for 1,100 yards in the same season.

FB: Ahmard Hall, Titans— When you have a hard-nosed former Marine as your point man, as Chris Johnson did this year, it becomes a little easier to rack up 2,000 yards.

WR: Santonio Holmes, Steelers— Followed up his Super Bowl stardom with his first 1,000-yard season. Sixty-three of his 79 grabs produced first downs. Greg Jennings, Packers— With 16.4 yards per catch, this emerging talent makes the most of his opportunities. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets— Given his reliability on third down and ferocious downfield blocking, he could be the next Hines Ward. Jason Avant, Eagles— Fearlessly plies his trade over the middle. But he can also step in seamlessly as a starter as he proved in San Diego (8 catches, 156 yards).

TE: Zach Miller, Raiders— Despite Oakland's passing game, he's averaged 61 catches and nearly 800 yards the past two years. He also blows people up as a blocker. Brent Celek, Eagles— He stepped up as one of the weapons Donovan McNabb needed, falling 29 receiving yards shy of 1,000 while catching a team-high 76 passes.

T: Michael Oher, Ravens— All-Joe guys generally don't translate to the silver screen, but Oher lived up to his first-round billing and storybook background, shining at both tackle positions. Mark Tauscher, Packers— Fought back after shredding his knee at the end of the 2008 season. Once he got back on the field, QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked only 15 times in eight games. He went down 35 times before that. Winston Justice, Eagles— The 2006 second-rounder seemed to be a bust. But he stepped in for injured Shawn Andrews and started all 16 games at right tackle.

G: Brandon Moore, Jets— The Jets cut him in the offseason then decided they couldn't do without him. He justified that decision as a linchpin of the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack. Jake Scott, Titans— Another of Chris Johnson's favorites. Nate Garner, Dolphins— Gotta like any guy who can play tackle, guard, center and even tight end.

C: Jason Brown, Rams—Steven Jackson doesn't lead the NFC in rushing without this guy. Alex Mack, Browns— A major reason the Browns finished eighth in rushing offense.

K: Ryan Longwell, Vikings— Somehow, one of the game's finest kickers has never received Pro Bowl recognition. We'll take anyone who goes 26-for-28 on field-goal tries.

KR: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals— Rookie averaged 24.2 yards a pop while serving as a willing tackler on coverage teams.

LS: Jason Kyle, Saints— On target for the biggest snap of the season in overtime of the NFC Championship Game. Good enough for us.


DE: Johnny Jolly, Packers— Jolly thrived in the thankless job of playing end in a 3-4 defense throughout Green Bay's transition to the scheme. His 75 tackles is an amazing figure considering the number of blocks he had to absorb and a major reason Green Bay finished first against the run for the first time in its 89-year history. Andre Carter, Redskins— Despite his 11 sacks, don't pigeonhole him as a pass rusher. He stood tall against the run, too, as indicated by his 62 tackles. Calais Campbell, Cardinals— A second-rounder in 2008, he became a starter in 2009 and responded with seven sacks.

DT: Ryan Pickett, Packers— Earns recognition along with linemate Jolly on the NFC's top-ranked defense for manning the nose, the key cog to any 3-4 defense. Has come a long way since looking like a first-round washout. Kyle Williams, Bills— His 66 tackles topped all defensive linemen, and he routinely gives some of the interior linemen fits. Sione Pouha, Jets— Things looked bleak when Pro Bowl NT Kris Jenkins went down with a knee injury. But New York allowed 17.1 fewer rushing yards per game with Pouha as the starter.

OLB: Tamba Hali, Chiefs— No All-Joe team would be complete without a member of the Chiefs, and Hali smoothly slid from 4-3 end to 3-4 backer and responded with a career bests for sacks (8.5) and tackles (66). Anthony Spencer, Cowboys— When this 2007 first-rounder took off, so did the Cowboys. All six of his sacks came in the final six games. Daryl Smith, Jaguars— Defensive captain made 107 stops while playing inside and out.

ILB: David Harris, Jets— Despite playing in New York, doesn't get much pub. The 2007 draft pick was the leading tackler for the NFL's top defense. D.J. Williams, Broncos— During his six-year career, this former first-rounder has done everything Denver has asked: weak side, strong side, middle, 4-3 and now 3-4 inside, and done it well. Jerod Mayo, Patriots— Last year's top defensive rookie led team in tackles (103) despite missing three games with a bum knee. Barrett Ruud, Buccaneers— Tackling machine has averaged 131 stops since 2007. David Hawthorne, Seahawks— He didn't start until Week 8, but had a team-best 117 tackles.

CB: Leon Hall, Bengals— How does one half of arguably the best corner tandem in the league not make the Pro Bowl? Johnathan Joseph, Bengals— How does the other half of arguably the best corner tandem in the league not make the Pro Bowl? Terrell Thomas, Giants— It's probably not a good thing when a cornerback leads the team in tackles (85). Still, Thomas gets a nod for getting dirty at a position not know for that kind of effort. Quentin Jammer, Chargers— Not the physical freak that Antonio Cromartie is, but Jammer has always been effective against the run and pass.

S: Bernard Pollard, Texans— Dumped by K.C. right before the season, Houston scooped him up. He was thrust into the lineup in Week 4 and was widely credited for clotting a hemorrhaging defense. Melvin Bullitt, Colts— Filling Bob Sanders' shoes is no easy task. But Bullitt slipped them on, and look where the Colts are now. Louis Delmas, Lions— Rookie appears to be a cornerstone for rebuilding Lions. Had 94 tackles, an interception return for a touchdown and fumble return for a touchdown. Thomas DeCoud, Falcons— Sophomore took over as a starter and showed dynamic ability. He can hit, cover and blitz, a perfect package for a young free safety.

P: Mike Scifres, Chargers— An underrated weapon, he almost single-footedly beat the Colts in last year's playoffs with his deft directional touch.

PR: Darren Sproles, Chargers— Slippery and speedy, he's tough to find and tougher to catch. Not bad out of the backfield, either.

ST: Tim Shaw, Bears — The latest monster on Chicago's always strong special teams, he led the NFL with 20 special-teams tackles — even though he didn't join the team until Week 2.