Dreaded Dozen '11
Who were the best players with dreads in the NFL last season? Well, feel free to agree or disagree, but these are who I thought were the twelve best. As always, this list takes into account only how well these players performed in 2011, not for their entire careers. The numbers in parenthesis indicate where a player ranked on 2010 list.
1. Larry Fitzgerald (4) WR Cardinals - offensive player of the year - 80 rec. for 1,411 yards and 8 TD - after a 2-year absence, back in the top spot, where he belongs - picked for the Pro Bowl for 5th year in a row and 6th time in his career - 17.6 yards per catch average was by far his best ever.
2. Marshawn Lynch RB Seahawks - finally put everything together (on the field, that is) and wow, was it ever fun to watch - 285 rushes for 1,204 yards (4.2 average) and 12 TD; 28 rec. for 212 yards and 1 TD - most impressive were his 109 yards rushing against Ravens' tough D and his rushing TD vs. 49ers in Week 16, the first one allowed all season by 49ers' D.
3. Steven Jackson (6) RB Rams - 260 rushes for 1,145 yards (4.4) and 5 TD; 42 rec. for 333 yards and 1 TD - quietly had another typical outstanding season for another typical lousy Rams team. What a shame a player as good as him (a player who will be considered for the Hall of Fame) has never had a winning season and hasn't played in a playoff game since his rookie season in 2004.
4. Roddy White (3) WR Falcons - 100 rec. for 1,296 yards (13.0) and 8 TD - maybe he dropped a few too many passes, but he still caught 100 (2nd most in the league) and was picked for the Pro Bowl for the 4th year in a row.
5. Earl Thomas S Seahawks - defensive player of the year - 98 tackles (69-29), 2 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR - others may have had better stats, but he gets the nod here because he was picked as a starter for the Pro Bowl.
6. Chris Johnson (2) RB Titans - 262 rushes for 1,047 yards (4.0) and 4 TD; 57 rec. for 418 yards and 0 TD - a lot of players would love to have a 1,400-yard season in total yards, but that number isn't up to CJ's standards - I guess that little holdout he had during the preseason set him back more than he expected.
7. Charles Tillman (tied-12) CB Bears - 99 tackles (82-17), 1 sack, 3 INT, 12 PBU, 4 FF, 2 FR, 2 TD - after 9 seasons in the league finally made it to the Pro Bowl
8. Dashon Goldson S 49ers - 67 tackles (55-12), 6 INT, 9 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR - like Tillman, was picked for his 1st career Pro Bowl (although he didn't play in the game) - no doubt benefited from 49ers' strong pass rush, but was impressive enough that he was named the team's franchise player during the offseason.
9. Cedric Benson (9) RB Bengals - 273 rushes for 1,067 yards (3.9) and 6 TD; 15 rec. for 82 yards and 0 TD - turned in 3rd straight 1,000-yard season but nonetheless was shown the door by Bengals after the season - perhaps it was because of that case of fumblitis he had (5 fumbles in Weeks 15-16) late in the season.
10. Julio Jones WR Falcons - rookie of the year - 54 rec. for 959 yards (17.8) and 8 TD - had high expectations after Falcons traded away five draft choices to get him, and he lived up to them - was plagued by nagging hamstring injury for several weeks, otherwise he might have topped this list - a superstar in the making, but sadly this likely will be his only appearance in the dreaded dozen.
11. Davin Joseph G Buccaneers - hey, I got to have at least one big man on the list - the quality of his play didn't exceed the quality of his dreads, but it was good enough for him to be picked for his 2nd career Pro Bowl - unfortunately will not be on the 2012 list after suffering knee injury in last night's preseason game
12. Lardarius Webb CB Ravens - 67 tackles (54-13), 1 sack, 5 INT, 20 PBU, 1 TD; 30 punt returns for 301 yards (10.0) and 1 TD - including playoffs, led NFL with 8 total INT - was tested often and passed the test, although Ravens didn't face many of the league's top QBs - also continued to be a threat as a return man.
The dreaded dozen had more than a few close encounters on the field in 2011, including these three .....
Offensive POY Larry Fitzgerald wins the battle against defensive POY Earl Thomas on this 12-yard TD catch in Week 3 at Seattle; but Thomas won the war as Seahawks won 13-10.
Rookie of the year Julio Jones makes this reception against #7 Charles Tillman at Chicago in Week 1. Jones had 5 catches for 71 yards in his NFL debut. Tillman had 7 tackles (5-2), 2 PBU and 1 FF as Bears spanked Falcons 30-12.
#8 Dashon Goldson stops #9 Cedric Benson for one of his 8 tackles (5-3) during 4th quarter at Cincinnati in Week 3. Benson was held to 64 yards on 17 carries as Bengals fell at home to 49ers 13-8.
BARELY MISSED THE TOP 12
- Desmond Bishop (11) LB Packers
- Morgan Burnett S Packers
- Reggie Nelson S Bengals (imagine that, Jaguars fans)
- Jabaal Sheard DE Browns
- Torrey Smith WR Ravens
- DeAngelo Williams RB Panthers
- Jordan Babineaux S Titans
- Deion Branch WR Patriots
- Adrian Clayborn DE Buccaneers
- Josh Cribbs WR Browns
- Louis Delmas S Lions
- Darnell Dockett DT Cardinals
- William Gay CB Steelers
- Charles Godfrey S Panthers
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis (8) RB Patriots
- Michael Griffin (tied-12) S Titans
- E.J. Henderson (10) LB Vikings
- Richard Marshall CB Cardinals
- Ray McDonald DE 49ers
- Pernell McPhee DE Ravens
- Denarius Moore WR Raiders
- Richard Sherman CB Seahawks
- Tramon Williams (5) CB Packers
- Jamaal Charles (1) RB Chiefs - torn ACL in Week 2
- Asante Samuel (7) CB Eagles - poor season
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