Blogs & Opinion

The perfect 10?

Who were the stand-out stars of the season?

Alex Ferguson Posted 27th January 2011 view comments

After a pair of emotionally exhausting matches to decide the NFC and AFC Championships, we can all relax a bit and watch this year's most fun game, the Pro Bowl, live from Hawaii.

And while we don't expect the playing teams to exactly stop, say "Aloha" to each other and then swap flowered necklaces in the lines of scrimmage, we're also not expecting the sort of tackling that made us shudder at Soldier Field and Heinz Field on Sunday.

Vick: redemption story

Vick: redemption story

The Pro Bowl is all about figuring out who have been the best players this season - so Alex Ferguson identifies his top 10 players of the year, regardless of position (so if there are three quarterbacks, please don't send in long notes of derision...)

1. Michael Vick (Philadelphia)

The great thing about American sports is that they love nothing more than a redemption story. Michael Vick was just that story. Doing his talking on the field, Vick was pretty much the old Vick, scorching defences for nine touchdowns and 676 yards on the floor and 3,000 yards through the air. And everyone was pretty happy for him when he got nominated for the Pro Bowl, too.

If there's been one player other than Aaron Rodgers that you should be talking about on the Green Bay Packers, it should be Clay Matthews.

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

NFL Pro Bowl

Midnight, Sun, Sky Sports HD1
Watch online with Sky Player
How to remote record

2. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City)

At the start of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs weren't exactly the first team to pop into our heads when we thought about play-off contenders. But a terrible Denver and a dispute-diseased Chargers team helped Kansas City win the division. Arguably, they wouldn't have been able to do it without an excellent running back, and Charles was that guy, rushing for 1,467 yards and five touchdowns - giving him two straight seasons of more than 1,000 yards.

3. Tom Brady (New England)

Brady was simply exceptional this season. Arguably, he did it for most of the season without his biggest weapon in Randy Moss, yet Bill Belichick's tactics of short yardage passing and yards after the catch absolutely roasted defences throughout the regular season. Brady was exceptional, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and producing the league's best passer rating - by a mile - of 111.8. The scary thing? This Pats team is young, and good.

4. Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh)

Last year, Polamalu was injured and the Steelers failed to make it to the play-offs, losing their dignity in the process by losing to the Cleveland Browns. This year, they smashed the Browns, won their division and will be playing for a Super Bowl title. He grabbed seven interceptions as the most exciting safety in the league, and frightened the hell out of opposing quarterbacks.

5. Clay Matthews (Green Bay)

If there's been one player other than Aaron Rodgers that you should be talking about on the Green Bay Packers, it should be Clay Matthews, who wasn't even considered to be good enough for a scholarship at the University of Southern California and yet walked onto the team and is now a bona fide NFL defensive superstar. Supplying 13.5 sacks, 60 tackles and an interception that went back for a touchdown, Matthews has been the heart and soul of the Packers defence, and is a good reason why they are playing for the Super Bowl, too.

6. Matt Schaub / Arian Foster (Houston)

From the gaudy numbers that both Arian Foster (No.1 in the league in rushing and touchdowns) and Matt Schaub (4,370 yards passing, fourth in the league) put up, it's obvious that Houston's problem this season was not offensively. Foster and Schaub both ticked excellently, frightening the heck out of opposition defences. Sadly, their defence couldn't stop the pass (dead last) or the point (29th), and the Texans efforts for a postseason spot fell - but not without a fight.

7. Brandon Lloyd (Denver)

If hell could have a slice of heaven, then Brandon Lloyd was a slice of it for the Denver Broncos. An outcast for the first eight years of his career, Lloyd was a wide receiving journeyman (Denver was his fourth club in eight years), with his mouth getting him into trouble in Washington and injury ruining his careers in Chicago and San Francisco. This season, Lloyd remained injury free, and put up nearly 1,500 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. With Tim Tebow due to take over the huddle in September, the future for Denver - who had a horrific season - is bright.

8. Sam Bradford (St Louis)

We know how much Peyton Manning means to you. We know that maybe 'Big Ben's' leadership of the Steelers should make the list. But Sam Bradford? This was a guy who a year ago was very injured after a literally crippling year at Oklahoma. He overcame the critics - including yours truly - to post a fantastic season, leading the Rams to within spitting distance of the play-offs after a string of seasons where 'futile' would nicely sum them up. And he's learning too - which should bode well for the fans under the arch.

9. Matt Ryan (Atlanta)

This year the Atlanta Falcons surprised the world by winning the NFC South and scoring themselves the best record in the NFC. Of course, it meant nothing when they were destroyed at home by the Green Bay Packers, but for a glittering moment, the 'Dirty Birds' looked like favourites to get to the Super Bowl. Ryan was no small part of it, throwing for 3,700 yards and 28 touchdowns, while being one of the league's best in not throwing interceptions (9). The guy's a leader, and if the Falcons can improve their defence, then don't rule out a ring in the near future.

10. Tamba Hali (Kansas City)

This season saw a marked improvement in the Chiefs, and while we can praise now-departed offensive co-ordinator Charlie Weis, quarterback Matt Cassel and running back Jamaal Charles, we've got to give some love to the Chiefs 'D', too. Hali was a mainstay of the other side of the line of scrimmage, justifying his first round pick in 2006 with 14 ½ sacks. We might see him fall down in the sacks department next year (because he'll be double-teamed), but this year - when he was voted as a Pro Bowl starter - has been a halcyon one.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Mark Wilson says...

I think some good choices there, interesting picks in Hali and Bradford. Think Peyton was close to being up there, what with such a banged up receivers corp and little to no running game he had to shoulder even more of the responsibility compared to normal, which is ridiculously high anyway. Vick at number 1, does this mean you think he should be the MVP?

Posted 12:23 29th January 2011

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....


Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....


Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....


Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....


Jamie Carragher

Bruce almighty

Steve Bruce deserves a mention when this year's managerial awards are handed out, says Carra....

Peter Beagrie

An Easter feast

Beags previews the cracking Easter action in the Championship, including games for the top three....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....


Martin Tyler

Goal crazy

When did Liverpool last score three without Suarez and Sturridge netting? Martin Tyler has the stats......


Will Greenwood

Building momentum

Will Greenwood wants England to lay down a World Cup 2015 marker on their tour to New Zealand....

Dewi Morris

Heart and soul

Dewi Morris looks at a crucial weekend in the Championship as we head towards the play-offs....

Stuart Barnes

Ups and downs

Stuart Barnes says the drama of relegation must be kept in rugby, but the play-offs need changing....

Phil Clarke

To Hull and back

Phil Clarke looks at the mental damage done to Hull FC and Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Paul McGinley

Joy for Jonas?

Jonas Blixt has the short game and heart to win the Masters at Augusta, says Paul McGinley....


Barry Cowan

Heavy burden

Great Britain's best Davis Cup since 1986 fails to mask their reliance on Andy Murray, says Barry Cowan....

Barry Cowan

No force without Fab

Britain's Davis Cup quarter-final with Italy rests on the fitness of Fabio Fognini, says Barry Cowan...

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Alex Hammond

Rocky's road

Alex Hammond explains why she is backing Rocky Creek and Lion Na Bearnai at the Grand National....

Andrew Balding

Resting up

Trainer Andrew Balding says On Demand is progressing well - but now needs time to recuperate....

Johnny Nelson

The best of friends

It will be tough but Johnny Nelson expects mates Anthony Crolla and John Murray to serve up a classic....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Delighted for DeGale

James DeGale's Matchroom switch is the perfect move to get him back in the mix, says Johnny Nelson....

View from America

Desperate deals?

Simon Veness reviews a crazy week in the NFL's free agent frenzy, as sides splash out over $1bn....


Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....


Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....


Neal Foulds

Four to the fore

Neil Robertson and snooker's other leading lights are pulling clear of the pack, says Neal Foulds....


Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....


Kelvin Tatum

Rich re-Ward

Poole, and the dynamic Darcy Ward, will wrap up the Elite League title at Perry Barr, says Kelvin Tatum....


Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......


Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....


Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....


Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...


Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....


Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....