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Boom or Bust: Woodson is NFL's best on D
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Let's play boom or bust, SCHEIN 9 style...
1. Charles Woodson is the Defensive Player of the Year.
This is a boom.
Charles Woodson deserves to be recognized for having an all-time great season and deserves to be the first cornerback to win the award since Deion Sanders in 1994.
Woodson is in a new defense, Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme. And a main reason Capers can be aggressive is because of Woodson's incredible cover skills. Teams don't throw on Woodson. And Woodson's body of work is remarkable with a whopping eight picks, returning two for touchdowns.
Woodson tries to come up with a turnover on every single play, while still keeping his fundamentals as a great textbook tackler. Woodson has forced four fumbles this season. The incredible athlete also has 60 tackles and two quarterback sacks. This is what you call a play-making corner.
And think about the Packers' offensive line problems early in the season and how often the defense was on the field.
A big reason why Woodson has reached this level is his relationship with Mike McCarthy. To say it was bad at first would be an understatement. McCarthy believes in a strong practice regiment. Woodson needs to protect his body while working diligently on the side and studying the film longer than anyone.
McCarthy learned how to trust Woodson.
McCarthy told us on Sirius NFL Radio, "Day 1, we got off to a rough start. He was a veteran player coming from a different organization. I was in my first year of our program. The lines of structure were drawn in the sand. His ability to play in games is unique. He is one of the all-time pros. Everybody doesn't see the amount of time and effort he puts into Sundays. He is an old school weight room guy getting on the treadmill. He intently studies the film. He was honest with me, saying that his body doesn't respond like it used to 10 years ago. He might skip Wednesday practice and practice Thursday and Friday. The way he throws his body out there is special. He is the best and most talented defensive back I've ever been around. It's at a stage where I trust him and he trusts me and he is having a great year for us".
Woodson is like a fine wine, getting better with age. And in talking to Woodson on Sirius NFL Radio, he says he has matured as a person. The former Heisman Trophy winner donated 2 million dollars to a University of Michigan children's hospital.
There is stiff competition for the award. Elvis Dumervil has 15 sacks, while making the transition to outside linebacker this season for the surprising Broncos. Jared Allen is the pulse of the Vikings defense and he has sacked the quarterback 12.5 times.
The stiffest competition comes from Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. With my role on SNY's Jets Postgame Live, I have watched every single snap Revis has played his year. It's been, frankly, a pleasure and a treat. He cuts the field in half. He has thrown a blanket on the likes of Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, and more. Revis is a star player who makes plays, with sox picks and 27 pass break-ups. His tackling is extraordinary for a corner.
But it all falls just a bit short to Woodson's excellence.
2. Mark Sanchez has a better future than Matt Ryan
I would call this a bust. But I still really like both quarterbacks.
Ryan has slumped after a sensational rookie season. Before suffering an injury in Toronto, the game started slowing down for Sanchez.
I've gotten e-mails from readers and phone calls on radio and television saying that "Matty Ice" is overrated, or bigger fools calling Sanchez a bust or clamoring for Kellen Clemens. Patience people. Both Ryan and Sanchez will be Pro Bowlers when it is all said and done.
By the way, if Ryan doesn't play against the Jets this weekend, Atlanta has no chance of winning with Chris Redman against the Jets defense.
3. JaMarcus Russell should start over Charlie Frye for Raiders this weekend
It's officially come down to this. This is without question a gigantic bust.
And so is JaMarcus Russell.
When Bruce Gradkowski got hurt in the Redskins game, the air went out of the Raiders balloon. Gradkowski is the ultimate worker and team player, basically everything Russell is not. Frye has flopped in prior situations. That's not the point. He wants to be out there. He pays attention in meetings. His teammates know that playing quarterback matters to him
Putting Russell back in the lineup would've caused the other players to roll their eyes and pack it in. Give Tom Cable and Al Davis credit for understanding this. JaMarcus Russell should never take another snap again for Oakland. He just doesn't care enough.
4. Mike Holmgren is a great fit in Cleveland.
Last week I wrote that a return for Holmgren to Seattle would be a mistake. Obviously the Seahawks agree with me for the reasons I stated.
But Holmgren is a great football man with a Hall of Fame resume who brings instant credibility to a team that hasn't had it in years. He would bring instant accountability to Cleveland, just like Bill Parcells did in Miami.
Pack your things, Eric Mangini.
5. Joshua Cribbs wants to stay in Cleveland.
After spending 20 minutes with Cribbs on Sirius NFL Radio this week, the answer is an absolute boom.
He loves the fans. He loves his teammates. Cribbs will do anything the coaching staff asks. And he was still buzzing from his majestic performance against Pittsburgh as a returner and running the wildcat and the thrill of beating the Steelers. As Cribbs said, "there is no better feeling than running a play where the opposition knows what is coming and you still beat them."
But Cribbs told us he wants a new deal by the end of the season and he would be disappointed if that didn't happen. We'll see.
6. Percy Harvin is the offensive rookie of the year.
This is a bust, despite a brilliant rookie season so far.
There are three phases of football; offense, defense and special teams. If the category was "rookie of the year" it would be Harvin, with his combination of the return game and his play making ability at receiver.
But it is offensive rookie of the year. Thus, it's easy. Ravens tackle Michael Oher has been dominant and the single best neophyte on OFFENSE in pro football.
7. The Saints should go for 16-0.
This is an absolute boom. Sean Payton is playing this correctly. The Saints have had such a checkered history. They need this for self-confidence. It's great for the city and the fans. It gives Drew Brees and company tremendous momentum for a sustained run to the Super Bowl.
8. The Colts should go for 16-0.
This is an absolute bust.
Indy has dealt with injuries all year. They are playing backups and young players in the defensive backfield, receiver and at tackle. Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea are vital to the team's success in January. With those 3 nicked up stars, Jim Caldwell has the right to choose. He doesn't need to think about the Ravens, Jets or Dolphins, and how a game against Jacksonville might impact them. "Availability", as Caldwell told us Monday on Sirius NFL Radio, is much more important than history. The Colts are not a power football team. If one of those defensive stars isn't ready come playoff time, it will be an early exit.
9. Age and maturity eases the pain of losing in fantasy football.
I could be the happiest person on the planet. Wonderful wife, amazing daughter, three great jobs, living in the greatest city in the world.
But I lost in both my Syracuse Alumni league and SNY league in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers didn't throw a touchdown. I was forced to start Ryan Moats in the 'Cuse league while playing against Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall. I started my guy Rodgers against the Bears (a no-brainer) while Matt Schaub sat the pine. And yes, that proved to be the difference.
I was in a funk Tuesday. I won the 'Cuse league last year, SNY the year before.
Fantasy football — bringing out the baby in all of us. And I'm still not over it.
For a daily Boom or Bust on New York Sports, watch Schein and Chris Carlin weeknights at 6est on SNY (DIRECT-TV 639).
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