Remember the All-Madden Team? John Madden used to pick a roster of guys who played the game “his way.”
Basically it was an All-Pro team but you’d see a few Madden signature picks like Boomer Esiason getting on the team instead of Dan Marino, or Jerome Bettis ahead of Barry Sanders.
So I figured, if John Madden can do it, so can I.
As always, I’ll be picking the guys who have piqued my interest in 2014. In some cases, it will be the guy who had the best year, but sometimes not.
So let’s see the awards for the season and find out who made the hallowed All-Lazlo team for 2014.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Luck took that huge step in 2014 to join the select few quarterbacks (Manning, Brady, Rodgers & Brees) who you can legitimately call “elite.”
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: And you thought the feature back was a thing of the past? Well, it might be if Murray breaks down after the brutal workload the Cowboys gave him this season, but for now, he’s the man.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: This guy only snuck up on you if you weren’t paying attention. He’s the best wide receiver in the NFL.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions: His production actually went up when Calvin Johnson got hurt (and the opposing defense could focus entirely on him). Unnoticed playing opposite Meagtron and completely undervalued by the Seahawks last year, he was the best offseason acquisition of the year.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers: Just because a guy plays on an offense overloaded with talented doesn’t mean he isn’t great.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: I hemmed and hawed on this one, because there’s a soft spot in my heart for the Titans’ Delanie Walker, a bona fide star on a team devoid of them, but there’s just no denying Gronk. He’s the one true matchup-nightmare, game-changing, whole offense-defining tight end in football.
Ryan Clady (T), Denver Broncos: I always say if you want to know a guy’s value, look at what happens when he’s not there. Clady solidifies the entire Denver line which also gave up a league low in sacks
Joe Thomas (T), Cleveland Browns: There’s a reason this guy makes the Pro Bowl every single year. Some years, he’s the only good player on the Browns.
Zack Martin (G), Dallas Cowboys: He solidified Dallas’ o-line and became the biggest impact draft pick they’ve had in 10 years.
Mike Iupati (G), San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers offense is in a lot of trouble, but the good news is that none of it is due to the line, which is still an above-average to excellent unit.
Maurkice Pouncey (C), Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh’s offensive resurgence on the ground and in the air doesn’t happen without some stability up front.
J.J. Watt (DE), Houston Texans: He’s the best defensive player in football. The talk about him getting serious MVP votes is not just talk.
Marcell Dareus (DT), Buffalo Bills: Wondering what happened to the Bills’ vaunted defense when they played the Raiders? Dareus was hurt.
Calais Campbell (DE), Arizona Cardinals: So, SO close between taking him and taking Cameron Wake of the Dolphins and ultimately I went with Campbell more as a team vote to the Cardinals D overall.
Fletcher Cox (DE), Philadelphia Eagles: The NFL has to stop giving mere lip service to the idea that anything matters more than sacks. Cox was the primary reason the Philadelphia front 7 was effective this year and their best run stuffer. But yeah, he didn’t have a lot of sacks so Connor Barwin made the Pro Bowl for the Eagles instead. JOKE.
Justin Houston (OLB), Kansas City Chiefs: Sacks aren’t everything, but they’re not chopped liver either. This guy gets to the quarterback more than just about anyone every year.
Elvis Dumervil (OLB), Baltimore Ravens: There’s always a special place in my heart for old guys who come in and play like they’re young again. Dumvervil was this year’s version of Robert Mathis.
Luke Kuechly (ILB), Carolina Panthers: Hey Luke, mind if anyone else on Carolina makes a tackle once in a while?
DeAndre Levy (ILB), Detroit Lions: The Lions’ cavalcade of defensive talent finally translated into a unit that could stonewall people. Here’s the guy who’s the reason why that is.
Darrelle Revis (CB), New England Patriots: He is the single biggest difference in the Pats’ defense this season.
Richard Sherman (CB), Seattle Seahawks: The mouth goes non-stop, but the play backs it up. Every time.
Harrison Smith (S), Minnesota Vikings: I’m a big fan of do-it-all playmaker type safeties. This guy made stuff happen all over the field.
Kam Chancellor (S), Seattle Seahawks: At some point they’ll break up this Seahawks secondary, and it will be remembered as possibly the greatest ever assembled.
Matt Bryant (K), Atlanta Falcons: 15 field goals made from 40 yards and out, including going 7-10 from beyond 50. Bryant redefined a scoring opportunity for the Falcons this year.
Johnny Hekker (P), St. Louis Rams: Kind of have to give it up to a punter who had a passer rating of 118.
Darren Sproles (PR), Philadelphia Eagles: Best trade of the whole offseason. For one team anyway.
Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals, Coach of the Year: If a tree fell in the woods, Arians could play it at quarterback and still win 11 games.
Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: He’s the only reason Green Bay is considered a legitimate contender.
Defensive MVP: J.J. Watt, DL, Houston Texans. No comment necessary.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, New York Giants: The most electrifying offensive player in the NFL, and he missed the first half of the season to boot.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Khalil Mack, LB, Oakland Raiders: If they redid last year’s draft right now, this guy would be the consensus #1 pick.
Most Overrated Coach: Tie – Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles & Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. Both good coaches but getting way too much credit for not enough success.
Most Underrated Coach: Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers. I’ll give you $100 if you could have even told me this guy’s name in response to the question, “Who is the San Diego Chargers’ coach?”
Most Overrated Offensive Player: LeVeon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve never seen a star player look less impressive while having a great season.
Most Underrated Offensive Player: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys. He’s had a season that rivals Aaron Rodgers’ but you’d never know it. All anyone wants to talk about is whether he’s going to choke.
Most Overrated Defensive Player: DeMarcus Ware, DE, Denver Broncos. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good signing, but he just made a Pro Bowl with basically the same stats as Willie Young, Jerry Hughes and Junior Galette. Who?! Exactly.
Most Underrated Defensive Player: Rolondo McClain, LB, Dallas Cowboys. Can it be that the most underrated players on both sides of the ball are from Dallas? Seems like it. People assume that everyone on the Dallas defense sucks, but McClain plays in the opposing backfield. He’s their one true playmaker.
Featured image via The Big Lead