NFL Top 100: Earning Respect
It is no secret on how we feel about the Houston Texans but there comes a time where enough is enough. The NFL, for the second year, has let the NFL players vote who the top 100 players are in the NFL. This could probably go for any NFL team’s fan base and where their players are ranked, but the Texans are still working for respect among the NFL landscape.
In 2011, when the Texans were 6-10 they put FOUR players on the Top 100 List with Mario Williams (#71), Vonta Leach (#65), Arian Foster (#25) and Andre Johnson (#7). Now when the Texans finish 10-6 and capture their first ever AFC South crown, they placed FOUR players on this years list, with some snubs in our opinion. The group that was chosen for the Texans were all vital parts of the playoff run in 2011 but their placement on the list is where the real question lies.
One way to look at the list is where they fall into their position group and that is how we are looking at the ratings. Lets take a look:
The Texans in the NFL’s Top 100 (2012)
There is no question on what Johnathan Joseph meant to the Texans success with his 44 tackles and 4 interceptions. Joseph finally gave the Texans a shutdown cornerback that they have never had in the team’s history. Signing him from the Cincinnati Bengals (5 years for $48..75 million and $23.5 guaranteed, including $12.5 signing bonus) is easily the best free agent signing in team history and he certainly earned his dollars.
Look at the cornerbacks that finished ahead of him:
#55 Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
#46 Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
#36 Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
TOP 10 (Not Released) Darelle Revis, New York Jets
Notes: The only beef we have is that Joseph should be ahead of Peterson and Bailey especially for his impact on the Texans defense.
Bouncing back from his sophomore slump, Brian Cushing posted big numbers from the inside of the Texans defense with 114 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. The torch was passed to Cushing in 2011 to lead the defense and he did it with reckless abandon. He showed why he was a Top 15 pick in 2009, and helped anchor one of the best defensive units in the NFL. Unfortunately, Cushing was possibly one of the best inside linebackers of 2011 but is up against some serious competition.
Look at the inside linebackers that finished ahead of him:
#51 Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
#20 Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
TOP 10 (Not Released) Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
Notes: The inside linebackers were grouped with the outside linebackers so we just looked at the inside players. It is hard to really complain about the company Cushing is with in Urlacher, Lewis and Willis. According to this, he is the 2nd best inside linebacker in the AFC behind Lewis. Not bad.
One of the most dynamic offensive players in the NFL to date, Arian Foster posted 1,224 rushing yards with 12 total touchdowns. Foster missed 2.5 games which skewed his stats some, but what he means to the Texans and their offense is not even a question. Being nominated to his second Pro-Bowl in as many seasons, he was rewarded with a new deal. Foster is the most complete back in the NFL when it comes to running and catching the football. Throw in his pass protections skills, it is hard not to agree how good he really is.
Look at the runningbacks that finished ahead of him:
#22 Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
#18 LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
#12 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
TOP 10 (Not Released) Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Notes: This is probably the biggest travesty of the list for the Texans. Rice and Jones-Drew are hands down better than Foster in the AFC? The only back right now that rivals Foster has to be Adrian Peterson, but the players don’t see it that way.
Probably the greatest Houston Texans player when it is all said and done, Andre Johnson fell out of the top 10 this year. When the Texans had their best season as a team, Johnson had his worst season as a professional. The players realize how good Johnson really is and voted him in with the respect he has earned since 2003. With only 33 receptions during the regular season, Johnson did make an impact when he came back in the playoffs, despite not being 100%. When healthy, there is no question that Johnson is a top 10 player in the NFL.
Look at the wide receivers that finished ahead of him:
TOP 10 (Not Released) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
TOP 10 (Not Released) Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Notes: The only consolation from this is that despite being injured, Johnson is still considered the cream of the crop when it comes to AFC wide receivers. Close AFC wide Receivers were Wes Welker (#23) and Mike Wallace (#47) and that is impressive to see that despite the injuries he is still one of the best.
Talk about the year that put Brown on the map, he shattered James Harrison’s orbital bone and shut down Terrell Suggs in the divisional playoff game, but wasn’t good enough to beat out the likes of offensive tackles Donald Penn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns), Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers), Jake Long (Miami Dolphins) and Jason Peters (Philadelphia Eagles). Brown has to be better than Penn and Staley, doesn’t he?
When players think of impact players, 3-4 defensive ends do not jump to the front. What Watt did in 2011 was remarkable with a shortened offseason, but he was buried with all of the defensive ends in front of him on the list. There were 12 defensive ends in-front of him not including who shows up in the top 10, but only one of the defensive ends in that group is a 3-4 end in Justin Smith (San Francisco 49ers). All of the other ends are 4-3 sack artists, but a few more seasons like his rookie season and Watt will be a mainstay on the list for years to come.