Monday, January 24, 2011
2010 All-NFC West Specialists
By Mike Sando
A look at my all-NFC West picks for the 2010 season, concluding with the special teams:
- Jon Ryan was the choice at punter after finishing the season with 27 punts downed inside the 20 and only one touchback. That's a sensational ratio. Ryan didn't spend half his games punting indoors, adding to degree of difficulty. The Rams' Donnie Jones and the 49ers' Andy Lee are worthy choices most years.
- Cardinals kicker Jay Feely set an NFL record by scoring 22 consecutive points for Arizona against Denver, including six on a fake field goal. That set him apart. The Rams' Josh Brown made more field goals, but Feely connected on a higher percentage than Brown or Seattle's Olindo Mare. Mare had 20 touchbacks, Feely had 16 and Brown had five. Feely was the too often the Cardinals' greatest scoring threat.
- Several candidates deserved consideration for overall special-teams play. The 49ers' Manny Lawson and Reggie Smith were consistent performers even though Lawson started all season and Smith started some of the time. Smith had 26 special-teams tackles. The Rams' Chris Chamberlain would have earned a spot, most likely, had he not missed five games. Seattle's Matt McCoy deserves mention. He and Chamberlain each had 19 special-teams tackles.
- Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling threatened Leon Washington as a returner for part of the season, but Washington's production on kickoff returns and punt returns set him apart. Stephens-Howling was stronger on coverage teams when opponents focused on former teammate Sean Morey. Stephens-Howling also played more on offense this season.
The chart breaks down all-division choices from 2008 and 2009, plus this season.