2012 PFF All-NFC East Team
The format is simple. Find 11 guys to start on offense and defense with four more on special teams to field as strong a starting unit as possible for a division.
Here’s the NFC East, and links to the others:
Quarterback: Robert Griffin III (WAS)
Who saw this coming? Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning was good in large parts but struggled to reach the heights of his postseason brilliance. Griffin, on the other hand, inspired the Redskins to an unlikely divisional crown with some accurate passing and devastating playmaking.
Running Back: Alfred Morris (WAS)
The sixth-round rookie was something, wasn’t he? He kept getting stronger as the year went on finishing third in our running back rankings. Morris had a nose for the end zone and a running style that left many defenders missing tackles (57).
Fullback: Darrel Young (WAS)
Young walked away with 14 carries on the year, but don’t think that’s why he’s in this team. It’s because of his lead blocking that pushed him to fifth overall in our fullback rankings.
Tight End: Jason Witten (DAL)
The go-to guy for Tony Romo kept Martellus Bennett from making the team with a big receiving year (1,039 yards) and some good blocking. A nice recovery from an injury-affected start to the year.
Wide Receivers: Dez Bryant (DAL) and Victor Cruz (NYG)
There was some stiff competition, with Desean Jackson, Miles Austin and Hakeem Nicks just missing out, while Pierre Garcon just didn’t play enough to challenge. Instead we’ve gone for two guys who dropped too many balls but offset that with some impressive playmaking. Bryant was particularly outstanding down the stretch.
Tackles: William Beatty (NYG) and Trent Williams (WAS)
A tale of two very different spots. On one hand, it was hard picking between Beatty and Trent Williams who both put forth tremendous years. On the other, it was tough finding a right tackle we wanted to start. So we’re cheating and asking Beatty to move to the right side to get the best guys on the field.
Guards: Evan Mathis (PHI) and Chris Snee (NYG)
There was never any doubt Mathis would be in this team after earning First Team All Pro honors from our good selves. That’s two years in a row. The right guard spot was a little tough with the choice being Snee or a much improved Chris Chester. In the end, Snee offered more in the run game and got the nod.
Center: Will Montgomery (WAS)
Quite the year from Montgomery who delivered in a way that saw him finish the year our fourth-ranked center on the year. One of those players who doesn’t get the due he’s deserved.
Edge Defenders: Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG) and Brandon Graham (PHI)
No DeMarcus Ware in this team, with JPP having a year that deserved more plaudits than it got. Sure, his pressure numbers were down, but his work in the run game propelled him to the third-highest grade of all 4-3 defensive ends. Who was ahead of him? Well Graham for one, with the Eagle making the most of his limited time to be a pass rushing menace. Playing time kept him out of many end of year teams, but not this one.
Defensive Tackle: Jason Hatcher (DAL) and Fletcher Cox (PHI)
Quite the year from Jason Hatcher who finished the year our fourth-ranked 3-4 defensive end in the league. We’re pushing him into the middle to make this team work and pairing him with Cox, who just earned the gong over the Giants’ duo of Chris Canty and Linval Joseph.
Linebackers: Anthony Spencer (DAL), Demeco Ryans (PHI) and Bruce Carter (DAL)
Spencer is the kind of guy who could adapt to play in any scheme. Extremely stout when setting the edge we don’t have a problem using him as a strongside linebacker. In the middle, Ryans wasn’t quite able to maintain his strong level of play, but who else were we going to go with? We know London Fletcher is beloved for a tremendous career, but you’re blind if you don’t think injuries and age saw his play drop off. Carter rounds off the trio, but don’t be fooled into thinking Sean Lee would not have walked onto this team but for injury.
Cornerbacks: Josh Wilson (WAS) and Brandon Carr (DAL)
Wilson was the easy one as he is one of the league’s consistently underrated defensive backs. You’d like to see less than the six touchdowns that he allowed, but Wilson made his share of plays in a successful year for the Redskins. Carr was a harder choice, with guys like Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie having made cases for selection. The strong finish to the year from the Cowboy swung things in his favor.
Safeties: Stevie Brown (NYG) and Antrel Rolle (NYG)
Rounding out a not entirely convincing secondary, Brown showed a knack for making plays as he was forced into a starting role. His partner for the most part was Rolle who still exhibits the same old issues in coverage that you make you wonder why he’s paid so well. That said, this was as good as he’s consistently looked in a Giants outfit.
Kicker: Dan Bailey (DAL)
Missed only one kick all year.
Punter: Steve Weatherford (NYG)
Edges out Sav Rocca for this spot.
Returner: David Wilson (NYG)
Was electric with his kick returns.
Special Teamer: Colt Anderson (PHI)
Took his knack for making special tackles onto the defensive side of the ball.
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