View Full Version : 2005 Every Play Counts All-Pro Team

01-06-2006, 11:42 AM

Running back — Larry Johnson, Kansas City

Tiki Barber of the Giants is great, and he’s a more complete back than Johnson, but Johnson is the league’s best pure runner by such a wide margin that there’s really no other choice. Prorate his starts to a 16-game season and he breaks Eric Dickerson’s record for yards in a season. And he did it running behind an offensive line that was without its best player, Willie Roaf, for half the season. Dick Vermeil didn’t recognize early in the season how far superior Johnson was to Priest Holmes, but when Holmes’ injury left him no choice but to make Johnson the focal point of the offense, Johnson quickly became the best back in the league. If you saw the Chiefs’ touchdown drive in the first quarter against the Chargers, you saw a back with amazing speed and power. (You also saw some great blocking by tight end Jason Dunn on San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman. Has any team ever had a better blocking-receiving combo at tight end than Dunn and Tony Gonzalez?) .. . .

Left tackle — Kevin Shaffer, Atlanta

I initially planned to install Walter Jones in this spot. And if Roaf had been healthy all year I probably would have picked Roaf. But as I watched Shaffer late in the season, I was consistently amazed by how well he moved. Left tackles just aren’t supposed to be so quick out of their stances that they can handle speed rushers or reach the second level to hit linebackers the instant the ball is snapped. He did have the occasional lapse, and Simeon Rice outplayed him both times they met. But those two games don’t nullify the whole season, and Shaffer had several outstanding games. Some have accused the Falcons’ linemen and their coach, Alex Gibbs, of dirty play, but I didn’t see any of that from Shaffer. I just saw consistently excellent technique. . . .

Defensive end — Kyle Vanden Bosch, Tennessee and Jared Allen, Kansas City

No one combines rushing the passer and stopping the run as well as Allen. Against Washington, in the first meeting of Dick Vermeil and Joe Gibbs since 1982, Allen (who was born that year) had three sacks and recovered two fumbles. Against Denver, Allen snuffed out the Broncos’ screens, stopping Tatum Bell for a gain of a yard and Kyle Johnson for a loss of three on screen passes. Against the Jets, Curtis Martin ran towards Allen twice and had a gain of two and a loss of three to show for it.

Vanden Bosch doesn’t stop the run as well as Allen does, but he’s a terror in the pass rush. After entering the season with four sacks in his four-year, injury-plagued career, he turned into the best pure pass rusher in football.