If we didn't have lists, ranking things in order from best to less-than-best, then what would we have to argue about? I heard someone talking the other day about the dawn of the internet as we know it today, and how it was really propelled by two things: Porn and arguing with people about shit that doesn't matter.
Whether or not that's entirely true isn't the point (there was also e-mail... which made it much easier to send your friends porn and your enemies spiteful hate messages) but it's definitely true that disagreeing with someone makes for a lot more conversation than agreeing with someone. If I write a post about the Seahawks running game stats, and that's it, you may see a few comments in agreement, a few "Here here!" remarks, and a few people that say "Also consider this..."
If I write a post about how Russell Wilson is better than Andrew Luck and some Colts fans get a hold of it, I have a significantly greater chance of hitting those 1,000-comment threads and multiple re-clicks that the powers-that-be crave so much.
This is a post about the NFL Top 100. This is a post about Richard Sherman as the highest-rated defensive player on the list. This is a post about Wilson's placement at 20 (ahead of Luck), Earl Thomas at 17 (behind Luke Kuechly), Marshawn Lynch at 14 (actually seems higher than I would've thought), and Kam Chancellor at 65 (behind Troy Polamalu?). This is also a post about how the NFL has found a new way to get your attention, which gets them more money, and how none of it matters at all. But thanks for clicking.
On Wednesday, the NFL Network revealed players 11-20 on their top 100. It was anticipated that three Seahawks would be named, with a fourth coming in the finale. Here's a breakdown of what we've seen so far:
- Wilson came in at 20 and Aaron Rodgers came in at 11. It's honestly hard to argue that Wilson could have done any better than that, it's fair, but a little surprising that Rodgers isn't considered a top 10 player. With Julio Jones and Matt Ryan presumably not making the top 100 though, it could be worse. It also shows that being hurt last season does factor into the voting process.
The way that this list is ranking quarterbacks so far has gone like this:
- Matthew Stafford (100)
- Colin Kaepernick (81)
- Tony Romo (71)
- Nick Foles (70)
- Joe Flacco (58)
- Philip Rivers (34)
- Ben Roethlisberger (31)
- Andrew Luck (30)
- Cam Newton (24)
- Russell Wilson (20)
- Aaron Rodgers (11)
That leaves Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, assuming that Brandon Weeden must have juuuuust missed the cut. The number one player on the top 100 has so far always been the reigning MVP, and it's safe to assume that Manning will continue that trend. Brady didn't have a great statistical season, but consider this: The Patriots went 12-4, and the only other players to make the top 100 from New England were Rob Gronkowski (41) who played hurt or didn't play at all last season, and Aqib Talib (79.)
How many other New England Patriots can the average fan name at this point?
Wilson moved up the list 31 spots from last year, after he shockingly made a name for himself within his first year after being a third round pick. Last year, he was also behind Luck (23rd), and Robert Griffin III (15th.) Who could have guessed a year ago that right now Foles would be 70th on the next iteration of this list, and Griffin would be out?
So yeah, given some anonymous polling of executives and coaches, some might say that Wilson is a tier II quarterback, tied for eighth-best or most desirable, or whatever you want to call it, but apparently on this poll, there are only four quarterbacks left ahead of Wilson. And none of them are Andrew Luck.
That being said, I'm a lot less hesitant to cite any list that lists Joe Flacco ahead of Romo, Kaepernick, Stafford, and Matt Ryan. Is now a good time to mention that Flacco had a lower QB rating than Chad Henne, Jason Campbell, E.J. Manuel, and Christian Ponder? It is? Okay, then I'll do it!
Flacco had a lower QB rating than Chad Henne, Jason Campbell, E.J. Manuel, and Christian Ponder!
- Earl Thomas comes in at 17, which should make him the fifth-highest ranked defensive player on this year's list, behind Sherman, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, and Kuechly. It's a big jump for Thomas, who was ranked 66th on the list a year ago, behind the likes of Stephen Tulloch, Champ Bailey, Charles Tillman, Vince Wilfork, and Ed Reed.
Wait, Ed fuckin' Reed was ranked 18th on the top 100 just a year ago? Seriously? Sort of sullies the fact that Thomas is 17th this year.
Also sullied by the fact that he comes in one spot behind Josh Gordon, a player almost certain to not make it next season. I'd also be surprised, honestly, to see Quinn maintain staying power like Thomas. We've seen a lot of players come in with one huge season in the sack department (Quinn had 19 last year after posting 15.5 in his first two seasons combined) only to fade back into a few more really good seasons.
But Thomas has been in the league for four years, and he's been amazing at his job for four years. He's made the Pro Bowl for the last three years, and named a first-team All-Pro for the last two. Placing players like Quinn and Kuechly in the top 20 is a bit of a gamble, whereas Watt, Sherman, and Thomas, are players that seem to be a bit more proven. That being said, it's still a bit surprising to see that Thomas is seven or more spots behind Sherman.
If you had to gamble on which player was more likely to be in the top 20 next year, who would you take? I'd go with Thomas.
- Despite the fact that I don't think most NFL teams are as committed to the running game as they were for the majority of league history, it appears that there will be three running backs in the top 10: Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Jamaal Charles. And coming in at 14, is Marshawn Lynch.
Even though he rushed for more than 300 fewer yards last season than he did in 2012, Lynch moved up from 24 to 14 on the NFL Top 100. His yards per carry went down, but he added a few more catches and receiving yards, and overall scored two more times.
Oh, and he won the Supe-pair Boll? Supera Bahl? Am I saying that right? Anyway, he a champion.
But be careful. For some running backs, the dream can end quickly. Last season, Arian Foster was eighth, Ray Rice was 13th, and Doug Martin was 57th. Hell, Maurice Jones-Drew was in the top 100 last year!
Even Peterson, who was ranked number one a year ago, rushed for 831 fewer yards in 2013 than he did the year before. (He rushed for a lot of yards in 2012.)
When Pete Carroll really started to rebuild this roster, Lynch and Thomas were the original "players to be proud" of for Seahawks fans, and the only members of the team to make the top 100 in 2012. (None made it in the inaugural year for the list, 2011.) I don't see any reason why he can't maintain that streak next season, though if he keeps being in the top 25, that's an incredible accomplishment on it's own for any player, but especially a running back.
- Kam Chancellor was ranked 65th. Here's where some irrational (?) fan bias comes into play and I'd be happy to throw down against a stranger on the internet. It seems clear to me that the list is placing some value on wins and playoff success, so at what point does Chancellor get more credit for his MVP playoff performance, and for helping Seattle stay ahead of the 49ers in the standings while other players on defense were getting hurt or suspended?
Whereas other members of this elite secondary have had their credibility called into question over the last three or four years, Chancellor had stayed out of the headlines for anything other than giving Vernon Davis an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" moment.
Still, he finds himself behind some questionable 2014 rankings, like Polamalu, DeAndre Levy, Flacco, DeMarcus Ware, Marshal Yanda, Trent Williams, and DeSean Jackson.
Chancellor had the best season of his career, and it's not like he's had a bad career. However, it's Chancellor's first year on the list, and most likely not his last. And this list matters, like, so much you guys.
- That only leaves one player on the team left to be announced that we all expect to be announced: Richard Sherman.
The face of Madden 2015, the iconic moment of the 2013 NFL playoffs, the stats that will still boggle minds 20 years from now, Sherman is very much deserving of being in the top 10. He may not have won Defensive Player of the Year, but Sherman has made two first-team All-Pro lists in a row now, and the rest of the league has caught onto the fact that he is the premier cornerback in the league at the moment.
The list of corners on the top 100 goes like this:
- Brent Grimes (95)
- Talib (79)
- Tim Jennings (74)
- Antrel Rolle (72)
- Joe Haden (39)
- Darrelle Revis (37)
- Patrick Peterson (22)
- Sherman (??)
Now, is Sherman really that much more valuable than Peterson and Revis? I'd argue that he probably isn't. (Hey, even Seahawks fans can get in arguments with other Seahawks fans.) Now, does it really matter where he's ranked?
Yes, this list is more important than anything that's ever happened.
Sherman will likely be joined in the top 10 by: Manning, Brady, Brees, Charles, Peterson, McCoy, Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, and A.J. Green. He's the only defensive player in that group. Last year, there were four in the top 10, including Watt, Von Miller, Patrick Willis, and Aldon Smith.
Would I put any running back over a player like Watt, Miller, or Willis? Or even a healthy NaVorro Bowman? Or Thomas? No, I don't think that I would. Or Rodgers?! You could argue that Rodgers is still the best player in the NFL, and you'd have a pretty good argument. And it really sucks that the list got it so wrong, because it's the most important thing. It's not just a marketing ploy.
- Notable Seattle players left off of the top 100 include Bobby Wagner, Brandon Mebane, Russell Okung, Max Unger (was on the list in 2013, not surprising to see him not listed in 2014), Percy Harvin (90th last year), and perhaps K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith.
I think it's safe to say by now that Wagner is officially one of the most underrated players in the NFL. A guy whose stats don't really justify his presence, and his stats are still pretty damn good. Same with Mebane.
- Imagine the life of an NFL player now and what he's looking to accomplish in any given season. First comes the MVP, but then you've also got the Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Of course, if it's your first season, you could also win Offensive Rookie or Defensive Rookie of the Year. Or the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Or the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Shit, does that stuff even matter if you don't win the FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Year? You'll probably get a better shot at winning one of those awards if you have the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year. That being said, these days, the only thing that matters are the stats that help you get the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year presented by SAP.
None of this would be possible without Papa John's, Castrol Edge, Lenovo, Pepsi NEXT, XBox One, Surface, and GMC. Shoutout!
Okay, but what if I'm just really, really good? Not the best of the best? Well have no fear, the Pro Bowl is here! Not only will we name dozens of players to a game that nobody will watch, we're also going to replace like a third of you with other guys because you don't want to go play in a game that nobody will watch. It's not like you can't afford your own trip to Hawaii.
But I didn't make the Pro Bowl... because of politics. :(
It's all good, the All-Pro lists are in the hood!
"ListS? As in multiple??"
You got it dude. Not only does the AP/NFL list first AND second team All-Pro rosters, but the Pro Football Writer's Association wants to chime in with their own opinion on the matter. And then if you do that for long enough, you might also make a Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decades team, which also matters.
Now you can see why a player like Peyton Manning might have, oh, 163 objects to add to his mantle every year. I think at a certain point he just started pulling 25-pound trophies out of his duffle bag, signing them, and then shooting them out of a t-shirt cannon into the crowds once he started running out of space.
Still, you think you're a good player, but somehow managed to make it through allllll of that in award season without anything? Don't worry, now this top 100 list ALSO matters! Not comforted by tens of millions of dollars, Matthew Stafford? Don't worry, here's a top 100 ranking because...
Wait, why does this matter?
Oh right, because someone you've never met, or lived in the same city in, or state, or possibly country, thought your guy was clearly a 67 but was named a 63. And in your heart, you knew he was actually a 46.
Thanks, NFL. F*** you, strangers!