I know many of you are looking forward to the announcement of the (2000s) NFL All-Decade team that will be released Sunday during the Pro Bowl broadcast on ESPN. We already know that Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and Eagles kicker David Akers are part of that fabled team.
But that list pales in comparison to the 2009 All-Beast team, which you guys helped select in the comments section. At last glance, there were 278 responses to my blog item requesting your participation. I secured a local accounting firm in Dallas to tally your votes and I came up with my own list separately. Now let's take a look at the All-Beast team, with selected comments from some of my thoughtful readers:
QB: Tony Romo, Cowboys: I looked at this from every angle. Romo was more accurate and he had a better TD-to-INT ratio with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. But the most important thing was that he elevated his game in December and January, including back-to-back wins over Donovan McNabb and the Eagles.
Reader comment: Barbarian will says: Romo has a better quarterback rating, threw for more yards and touchdwowns, threw one less interception, had a better completion rating, and outperformed McNabb in the three games they played head-to-head.
RB: Felix Jones, Cowboys: I know starter Marion Barber had more yards, but Jones emerged late in the season as a true big-play threat. He had four carries of more than 40 yards and it's now obvious that he should be the Cowboys' starting running back.
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants: I went back and forth between Bradshaw and LeSean McCoy on this choice. If we just went on numbers, you could argue for Brandon Jacobs and Barber. But Bradshaw and McCoy were the most explosive backs for their teams. Even while fighting through injuries for much of the season, Bradshaw somehow managed to average nearly 5 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Giants fans can make the same argument about him that Cowboys fans are making about Jones. The Giants have to give Bradshaw more touches.
Reader comment: NYBigBlue says: Most Giants fans can agree Bradshaw doesn't belong on the list for '09. But then again, Jones and McCoy are the only guys I'd put ahead of him in the division. It's not like Barber had a good year either, Choice wasn't used enough, and Westbrook and Portis were injured for much of the season. I'd argue Bradshaw possibly over Jacobs I guess for the third spot. Speaking of which...the Pro Bowl takes three of them, so add Bradshaw to my RBs.
FB: Leonard Weaver, Eagles: I think this one's pretty much a no-brainer. He brought some athleticism to the Eagles' backfield while Brian Westbrook fought through injuries. He played well enough to earn All-Pro honors, so I'm pretty sure he deserves his spot on the All-Beast team.
TE: Brent Celek, Eagles: You guys had some interesting thoughts at this position. But in the end, Celek's eight touchdowns trumped Jason Witten's eye-popping 94 receptions. Celek emerged as one of McNabb's most-reliable weapons. Witten is still the better all-around tight end at this point, but Celek had the better season.
WR: DeSean Jackson, Eagles: It's so ridiculous that the league ranks receivers in terms of receptions. By that measure, Jackson's down the list. But to me, it's about what you do with the receptions that truly counts. Steve Smith was superb this season, but he doesn't strike fear in cornerbacks like Jackson. Smith was second only to Wes Welker in receptions with 107, but Jackson averaged 7 more yards per catch and had two more touchdowns.
WR: Miles Austin, Cowboys: Only Jackson and Houston's Andre Johnson had more touchdowns of 40 yards or more. Austin had his breakout game against the Chiefs in the first half of the season and never lost steam. He surpassed both Jackson and Smith in total receiving yards, and he led the talented trio with 11 touchdowns. He basically saved the Cowboys' season, so let's give him the nod.
OT: Flozell Adams, Cowboys: I've been highly critical of Adams for his personal fouls, but he did have a pretty nice season. He was at his best down the stretch. He's a nasty player who can still dominate a game at times. Will he be the starter at left tackle next season? We'll know soon enough.
OT: Jason Peters, Eagles: I thought he had a somewhat disappointing season. Like Adams, Peters is a heavily-penalized player. Counting the playoff game, he was hit with a team-leading 11 penalties this season. But he's still athletic enough to shut down some of the game's top pass-rushers at times. David Diehl's not far behind Peters, but I'll give the former Razorback the nod.
G: Chris Snee, Giants: He's the best guard in the NFC East at this point in his career. And I think we'll be saying that for the next four or five seasons.
G: Kyle Kosier, Cowboys: Here's my upset special. I realize that Leonard Davis is headed to the Pro Bowl, but the scouts I've talked to said that Kosier had the better season. He did a really nice job pulling and working in space. He didn't hold up well against the Williams Wall, but you can say that about a lot of players.
DE: Trent Cole, Eagles: Led the NFC East with 12.5 sacks and was also strong against the run. One of the most underappreciated players in the league.
DE: Andre Carter, Redskins: You may have noticed that we're going with a 4-3 alignment on the All-Beast team. But no matter how you're lining up, Carter put up some impressive numbers with 11 sacks. I'm anxious to see how he performs in Jim Haslett's 3-4.
DT: Jay Ratliff, Cowboys: He and Kevin Williams of the Vikings are the best defensive tackles in the game right now. I know that will upset some Redskins fans, but Albert Haynesworth didn't look like himself in '09. Maybe Haslett will unleash the old Albert next season.
DT: Mike Patterson, Eagles: One of those really active players who doesn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet. I thought Patterson did an outstanding job against the run this season -- right up until the Eagles played the Cowboys in Week 17.
LB: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: Only had 11 sacks, but he's still a force. Ware and Jared Allen are the most highly respected pass-rushers in the league.
LB: London Fletcher, Redskins: Brian Orakpo will probably make the next seven or eight All-Beast teams. Let's step aside and honor Fletcher for another outstanding season and his first Pro Bowl appearance. He's not going to be around much longer because of age and Haslett's new 3-4 scheme. Keith Brooking was also in the mix for this spot.
LB: Anthony Spencer, Cowboys: He doesn't have the big numbers (six sacks), but he was one of the most-dominant players in the league over the final month of the season. His confidence soared in December, and he finally lived up to his immense potential. He also led all of the big-time pass-rushers in pass deflections with eight. That's a pretty impressive number.
CB: Asante Samuel, Eagles: I know the guy's soft, but you can't ignore nine interceptions. He's a player that quarterbacks constantly have to worry about.
Reader comment: Tsbein writes: You guys aren't giving Terrell Thomas any love and he had a great season.
CB: Mike Jenkins, Cowboys: He led the Cowboys in interceptions and pass deflections. And he's becoming one of the top corners in the game. You can see his confidence growing with each passing game. He'll be an All-Pro in the future.
S: Gerald Sensabaugh, Cowboys: Let's admit that safety play in this division is pretty weak. But Sensabaugh came in and fortified a position where the Cowboys had really struggled over the past few seasons. A heady player who plays with a swagger.
S: Quintin Mikell, Eagles: This was not a good season by his standards. But who else are you going to vote for?
Reader comment: 09InRomoWeTrust writes: I say safety, we give it to Kenny Philips. I realize he was on IR most the season, but he still played better then everyone else in the few games he played. Plus, the rest of the safeties are garbage.
Punter: Mat McBriar, Cowboys: He's such an underrated weapon for the Cowboys. He makes it look so easy that we don't really give the guy a lot of thought.
Kicker: David Akers, Eagles: In a division that really struggled in this department, Akers continued to be the picture of stability. And he was also named to the All-Decade team by the Hall of Fame selection committee. That's a huge honor.
Returner: DeSean Jackson, Eagles: This is probably the easiest pick on the All-Beast team. He's become the most dangerous punt return man in the league. I think he's better than Josh Cribbs in that department.
Best special teams weapon: David Buehler, Cowboys: Some of us laughed when the Cowboys spent a draft pick on a kickoff specialist, but the guy's been remarkable. He led the league in touchbacks in his rookie season and he also performed well on the kickoff and punt return units.