Darnell Dockett

2009 NFL Season: Temple3’s First Annual NFL All-Pro Team (DEFENSE)

Defense wins championships.  It is only fitting that the selection of my first All-Pro Defense required more time and analysis than the selection of the offense.  I made a concerted effort not to make “beauty contest” picks on the offensive side of the ball.  No Steve Hutchinson.  No Adrian Peterson.  No Randy Moss or Reggie Wayne.  No doubling up on left tackles.  Here’s hoping this defense is just as “ugly.”

I’m going to do something that is a bit unconventional, but I believe it is meaningful because of where the NFL is right now in the evolution of defensive formations.  A few years ago, only a handful of teams ran 3-4 defenses.  Today, this is not the case.  The fundamantal roles of front 7 players in 3-4 defenses and traditional 4-3 defenses are dramatically different that it is essentially impossible to apply the same standard to players in both systems.  So, I’m going to have a 3-4 Front 7 and a 4-3 Front 7.  The secondary players will be the same for both units.

Let’s start in the trenches with the 3-4 Defense.

Defensive Tackle. Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers.  In some circles, this may seem like a “beauty contest” pick.  It’s not.  As a Steeler fan, I was hesitant to make it.  Nonetheless, there are some things that cannot be ignored.  The run defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers (until Week 16 vs. the Baltimore Ravens) was performing at a high level.  When Aaron Smith went down earlier this season, I fully expected the wheels to fall off — just as they had in 2007.  The run defense, however, has proven more rugged than I anticipated — and with the absence of Smith and All-World safety Troy Polamalu, the reason for that consistency is evident.  Nose tackle Casey Hampton is simply having one of his best seasons.  He plays a position where statistics are secondary, but he has roughly twice as many tackles and sacks as he did during the 2008 season.  Hampton suffered the embarassment of being placed on the physically unable to perform list by Mike Tomlin last season – and I actually wrote about his health, but he’s rounded into shape rather nicely.

Casey Hampton at 2005 Super Bowl Parade.

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2009 NFL Season: Week 6 Recap

There were some compelling story lines that emerged this week.  The Bengals took a not-so-surprising plunge back to earth after beating the Steelers and Ravens.  The Giants were undressed.  The “Sanchise” took it on the chin 5 times and the Jets found a new way to lose.  The Vikings showed just how tough they’re going to be down the stretch.  (It looks an awful lot like the Saints and Vikings are going to play for the NFC Championship.)  The Eagles did the unthinkable.  With all of these stories, perhaps nothing was more surprising that the rapid and complete demise of the once-proud Tennessee Titans.

Welker_v_Titans

AP Photo - Winslow Townson

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Is ESPN pouring haterade on Darnell Dockett?

Of course they are.  If they weren’t, I’d have another title. 

The henchman for this particularly banal act is Mike Sando. 

Sando has been working with what D.K. Wilson refers to as “the Big Subliminal” for a few years now.  He writes a blog of the NFC West.  Here’s what he scratched together this week.

Franchise player rules will force Dansby to wait, and he should be content “settling” for a one-year franchise deal worth nearly $9.7 million. The volatile Dockett (my emphasis) has also committed to letting his play do the talking, a good sign for the team.

When did Darnell Dockett become “volatile”?   Perhaps after he sent a message on Twitter about the double standards employed by ESPN in covering the civil lawsuit filed against Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Could it be that Mike Sando is engaged in an early attempt to poison the well by simply creating inflammatory and prejudicial statements in the absence of information?  Is Mike Sando writing hit pieces to run cover for his boss? 

Surely it wasn’t when Dockett’s mother was executed in his home.  He was only 13.  Surely it wasn’t after his father died of cancer four months later.  Perhaps it was during the Super Bowl when he was inches away from being the games most outstanding defensive player. 

Maybe it was when he earned a new contract based on his superlative play a few years ago.  Did Dockett go berserk in camp and threaten to kill the GM?  Probably not.  The last time Dockett went down this road of seeking fair compensation for his considerable talent, he said:

“I’m here. This is what I’ve been looking forward to: continuing my career where I left off last year,” Dockett said.

“Right now, I’m here. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win.

“I’m excited to be here. I know my teammates are excited for me to be here.

“All my other issues are put to the side right now.

“It ain’t just about me. There are 60 other guys that depend on me to do a job to make them better.

“I’m even looking forward to making (offensive tackle) Levi Brown better in training camp. I’m going to get after him like no other.”

That was in July 2008.  The Cardinals went to the Super Bowl and Dockett was dominant. 

Mike Sando should either find a new employer or pick a new target.  This sort of vendetta journalism on behalf of his masters is flatly pathetic.  Perhaps Sando’s wife and kids will want to renegotiate — just like Dockett did after realizing he was receiving the short end of the stick.  He is a year late to a Super Bowl party that began with Darnell Dockett’s dedication in 2008.  And Dockett has been a star since he was drafted.  Mike Sando is off base and behind the times.