A wholly subjective scream into the void lamenting the annual travesty that is the league’s least-important honorific, the Top 100
Every season I look at the NFL’s top 100 list. Every season I try to understand how in the world so many people who understand so much about the sport of football can be so wrong about so many things. This year, I’m doing something about it. Mostly complaining, but at least it’s something…
Number 10. No Special Teams Guys. O.K. I know a lot of people think of special teams as the weird stuff that happens when football isn’t going on, but any coach will tell you that all three phases of the game are needed to win games. How about a nod to Matthew Slater? A dude who could (seriously) go to the Hall of Fame just for downing punts inside the five-yard-line. What about Justin Tucker who connected on an insane fifty-seven extra points last year and missed only one field goal all season long? This stuff matters, let’s show some love.
Number 9. Frank Clark at number 95. Frank Clark was probably the most important piece on that Super Bowl-winning Kansas City defense. He racked up eight sacks in the regular season to go along with three forced fumbles and an interception. In the playoffs, Clark was an absolute monster, adding five sacks and thirteen QB hits. If you want to know how the Chiefs went from an offensive juggernaut that couldn’t stop anyone from scoring to Super Bowl champs, look no further. Put some respect on the man’s name.
Number 8. Josh Allen at number 87. Maybe voters see some potential here, and are expecting a firecracker 2020 season with Stefon Diggs? That must be it, because there’s no other explanation. Allen threw for barely 3,000 yards at less than a 60% completion rate and had a 20-9 TD-INT ratio. That’s…not…great. Add that to the fact that BOTH Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan didn’t make the list and we’re approaching absurd territory quickly.
Number 7. Larry Fitzgerald at number 69. First off. I love Larry Fitzgerald. Seventeen seasons in the NFL. He’s a living legend. But he’s coming off an 800-ish-yard season and you might have heard, there’s a new number one target in Arizona. Add that to the fact that Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was narrowly snubbed (ranked 101) while compiling more yards (over 1,100) more yards per catch (11.2) and TDs (6) over the 2019 season, and you’ve got a clear miscarriage of justice on your hands.
Number 6. Laremy Tunsil at 66. This move created some buzz as the offensive lineman was traded from Miami before the 2019 season. Tunsil was brought in to shore up a unit that allowed the most sacks in 2018. They did improve. Slightly. In 2019 with Tunsil, the Texans still allowed Deshaun Watson to get sacked forty-nine times. Good for eighth-worst in the league. I might be nit-picking here, but I can’t just complain about QBs and wide receivers for the whole article, and it seems like Houston didn’t get enough in this deal.
Number 5. Kirk Cousins at 58. O.K. He was better than Josh Allen. But for real. Carson Wentz missed the cut entirely but was better in almost every statistical category while throwing the ball to people who are decidedly NOT on this list. Cousins had one of the best 1-2 receiver punches in the game with Stefon Diggs (54) and Adam Thielen, not to mention RB Dalvin Cook who’s also on the list (21). I just don’t understand the thought process here. Maybe if he was back at like number 97 or something, I’d be cool. But probably nah.
Number 4. Todd Gurley at 51. Todd Gurley took a huge step back in 2019.
Apparently, voters didn’t notice.
Yes. Gurley found the end zone fourteen times last season, but that’s nearly a 40% drop off from his 2018 season. His rushing and receiving yardage and yards per attempt all plummeted, and now he and his gigantic contract are headed to Atlanta. Does he belong on this list? Probably. But not above Chris Carson (96) or Josh Jacobs (72), who both left his production in the dust.
Number 3. Jadaveon Clowney at 41. Listen.
I know that Clowney was the first pick in the 2014 draft.
I know his athleticism and his aggression projected Clowney to be an absolute terror at the pro level.
My question is this: Has he ever been THAT guy in the NFL? Aside from a 2017 season when he racked up 9.5 sacks, Clowney has largely been in J.J. Watt’s considerable shadow for years. Add that to a forgettable 2019 season in Seattle where he recorded only three sacks and thirty-one tackles and I just don’t see it. He’s currently an unsigned free agent and while he’ll catch on somewhere, I doubt it will be a mega deal. Expect to see him this season on a “show-me” deal like Cam Newton in New England.
Number 2. Saquon Barkley at 31. Two seasons in the league, two thousand-yard rushing campaigns. An average of 1,700 all-purpose yards and 12 TDs per year. One, count it, one fumble at the pro level. Playing for the (shakes head) Giants. Barkley is a top-ten guy in the league. Given the over-emphasis on quarterbacks, I understand how he might slip into the middle teens. But thirty-first is an insult to this dude. It’s not his fault that the Giants are terrible. He’s probably the only reason that they haven’t drafted first the past two years.
Number 1. Tom Brady at 14. I know he’s the GOAT.
That’s not really up for debate.
But this isn’t a lifetime achievement award. This is ostensibly a list of the one hundred baddest dudes in the league. You really think that the forty-three-year-old Brady is going to ball out in 2020? More than Aaron Rodgers? Deshaun Watson?
Quick reminder, despite throwing for 4,000 yards last season, Brady had one of the worst years of his career, sporting his lowest completion percentage and passer ratings since 2013 and his lowest TD total since 2006 (excluding 2008, when he played only one game).
Some folks are operating on the assumption that Brady will go insane in Tampa Bay, magically connecting with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin instantly and turning into Jameis Winston…but, you know, without the turnovers. It’s just not that likely, folks. Brady isn’t going to connect on forty-yard routes seven or eight times per game. He just isn’t that guy anymore.
Bonus Points. Patrick Mahomes as the third-ranked QB, number 4 overall.
Stop. Just stop.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images