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Monday, June 22, 2009
AFC West thoughts on all-decade defensive team

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here are some random thoughts on our all-decade defensive team that pertain to the AFC West:

Champ Bailey: This is a slam dunk. Bailey is one of the best players, regardless of position, to play in the NFL this decade. The fact that he plays one of the most important positions on the field makes him even more impressive.

He shuts down half of the field. What struck me most about Bailey is not how he plays the pass, but how he plays the run. He is a dominant run-stopper and he is a brilliant tackler. Bailey has said he concentrated on his run-stopping when teams refused to throw his way.

He's a complete player and a future Hall of Famer.

Warren Sapp: Sapp will forever be remembered as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and his inclusion on our team is based mostly on his work in Tampa Bay. Sapp ended his career in Oakland. He had some solid moments in Oakland and his larger-than-life personality was on display as a Raider. Sapp may be a Buc, but he made an impact in Oakland.

John Lynch: Lynch certainly made a case for the all-decade team. Like Sapp, Lynch will be remembered for his Tampa Bay days. But he made a huge impact in Denver during his four seasons there. He and Bailey headlined a terrific secondary and Lynch's legendary leadership helped this team.

Shawne Merriman: The San Diego linebacker deserves a mention, but he just didn't play long enough in the decade. However, from 2005-07, he was as good as any defensive player in the NFL. His 39.5 sacks in that three-season span were the most in the NFL. Merriman, who is coming back after missing all but one game last season with a knee injury, is far from a one-trick pony. He is also solid in run support.

Speaking of the Chargers, I think defensive tackle Jamal Williams deserved mention. He has long been one of the premier run-stuffers and defensive-line anchors in the league.

Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is a lot like Merriman. He may be dominant now, but his just didn't make a big enough impact for the long run. Maybe next decade.