Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Arizona Cardinals All Career-Year Team

OPINION
By John Turney

At Pro Football Journal we are trying to pick the best individual seasons in the history of each franchise, which we will continue today with the Cardinals. By "Career-year" we mean the best performances at each position, with the following rule: Only one season per player per position. For example, here, we cannot pick Larry Wilson’s best two seasons and use all safety slots.

Here is the team, First-teams on left, Second-teams on right:


The Cardinal franchise has had some extraordinary seasons from the wide-out position. We settled on Roy Green, 1984 (All-Pro,78-1555-19.9-12), and  Larry Fitzgerald, 2008 (All-Pro, 96-1431-14.9-12), as the First-team receivers. 

The Second-team choices are Mel Gray, 1975 (All-Pro,48-926-19.3-11), and Gaynell Tinsley, 1937 (All-Pro, 36-675-18.8-5). Gray and Tinsley's numbers may pale in comparison to modern numbers but in their eras they are stellar.
A very long list of honorable mentions includes J.T. Smith, 1987, Anquan Boldin, 2008, David Boston, 2001 (All-Pro, 98-1598-16.3-8), Bobby Joe Conrad, 1963 (All-Pro, led NFL in receptions), Sonny Randle, 1960 (All-Pro, led NFL with 15 TD catches), Mal Kutner, 1948 (All-Pro, 14 TDs, 23.0 average on 41 receptions),  Rob Moore, 1997 (All-Pro, led NFL in receiving yards), Billy Dewell, 1946, Fran Polsfoot, 1951, Ed Rucinski, 1943, Bob Shaw, 1950, John Gilliam, 1969, Pat Tilley, 1980, Bill Smith, 1939, and Pop Ivy, 1942.

A case could be made for many of these to be on the First- or Second-team. Again, it's a deep group.
Not as deep is the tight end position, where really, only one stands out and that is Jackie Smith, 1967.

We had a hard time picking a Second-teamer but settled on Taz Anderson, 1962. The honorable mentions are J.V. Cain,1976, Doug Marsh, 1983, and Robert Awalt, 1987.

The 3rd wide receiver slot goes to Ricky Proehl, 1990, and the backup is Steve Breaston, 2009 . They are followed by Early Doucet, 2011, Michael Floyd, 2015, Roy Green, 1981, and John Brown, 2014.

The 3rd wide receiver Andre Ellington, 2013, and Larry Centers, 1992. The honorable mention Stump Mitchell, 1984.

The modern fullback is Larry Centers, 1995, and his backup is Terrelle Smith, 2007. The two honorable mentions are Joel Makovicka, 2001, and James Hodges, 2003.
Ernie Nevers, 1929, and Ollie Matson, 1956, are the running backs. True, they were both traditional fullbacks, but in this exercise they are ball carriers, the player who leads the running game. 
The Second-team running back seasons are Terry Metcalf, 1975, and Ottis Anderson, 1979.


The honorables are Charley Trippi, 1948, Pat Harder, 1948, MacArthur Lane, 1970, Johnny Roland, 1967, Jim Otis, 1975, John David Crow, 1960 (though in 1962 he scored 14 rush TDs and 3 receiving TDs), and Stump Mitchell, 1985.
Kurt Warner, 2008, takes the quarterback spot. We picked Carson Palmer, 2015 (Second-team All-Pro) over QB/TB Paddy Driscoll, 1925 (All-Pro). Warner won the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL MVP in 2008 and got the Cardinals close to winning the Super Bowl. 
The rest of the honorables, along with Driscoll, Neil Lomax , 1984 (Second-team All-NFC), Jim Hart, 1974 (Second-team All-Pro), Paul Christman, 1947, Jim Hardy, 1950, and Charlie Johnson, 1963.
Tom Banks, 1976 (All-Pro), is the First-team center and the Second-teamer is  Bob DeMarco, 1967 (All-Pro). The HMs at center are Ralph Claypool, 1925, Frank McNally, 1931, Ki Aldrich, 1939, Tom Moynihan, 1932.
Buster Ramsey, 1948, and Bob Young, 1979 are our choices for First-team guards, both were consensus All-Pros. For the Second-team we picked Ken Gray, 1964 (All-Pro), and Walt Kiesling, 1932. Kiesling was also All-Pro in 1930.

The list of honorables are Bill Fischer, 1952, Conrad Dobler, 1976, Joe Kuharich, 1941, Irv Goode, 1970, and Mike Iupati, 2015.
Dan Dierdorf, 1976 (All-Pro), and  Duke Slater, 1929 (All-NFL), are the tackles. Dierdorf didn't allow a sack and was the NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year. Their backups are Ernie McMillan, 1967, and Louis Sharpe, 1988. 

The honorable mention tackles are Ken Panfil, 1959, and Bob Reynolds, 1969, Leonard Davis, 2006, and Jared Veldheer, 2015.

The kickers are Neil Rackers, 2005 (All-Pro), and  Jim Bakken, 1975 (All-Pro), for the First-team and  for the Second-team. As good as Bakken was, compared to his peers, Rackers did lead the NFL in field goal percentage while Bakken was behind Tom Dempsey.

Pat Harder's 1947 is the lone honorable mention as a kicker.

Rich Camarillo, 1992 (All-Pro), takes the top punting spot, narrowly over Jerry Norton, 1959 (40.8 net average). The honorable mentions are Jeff Feagles, 1995 (38.2 net), Dave Zastudil, 2012 (41.4 net), and Scott Player, 2000 (37.3 net).

For punt returner Patrick Peterson, 2011 (All-Pro, 15.9 average for 4 toucdowns), is top choice and is ably backed by Ollie Matson, 1955 (18.8 average and 2 TDs on punt returns).

The fine group of honorables is Vai Sikahema, 1986, Red Cochran, 1949, Jerry Davis, 1948, Billy Stacy, 1959, and Terry Metcalf, 1975.

Ollie Matson, 1952, takes the top spot on the kick returner list and LaRod Stephens-Howling, 2010, is the Second-teamer. Matson had a 31.2 average and returned 2 kicks for scores. Stephens-Howling had a stat line of 57 returns for 1548 yards for a  27.2 average and 2 touchdowns.

The honorables are Les Goble, 1954, and Terry Metcalf, 1974.

Ron Wolfley, 1987, edges Justin Bethel, 2013 and Sean Morey, 2008. Wolfley was the NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year and Bethel and Morey were Pro Bowlers. Niko Noga, 1984, and Garth Jax, 1990, deserve special mention.

The nickel back spot is manned by Roy Green, 1981, and Aaron Francisco, 2008. The HMs are Kwamie Lassiter, 1998, Perry Smith, 1978, and Marcus Turner, 1990.

The designated rusher is Dwight Freeney, 2015 and Ron Yankowski, 1979. Bertrand Berry, 2009, Mark Smith, 1997 , and Justin Lucas, 2002 are the honorable mentions.
Larry Wilson, 1966 (Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pro, 10 picks, 2 for TDs)  and Tyrann Mathieu, 2015 (All-Pro, 89 tackles, 5 picks), are the First- and Second-team free safeties. 
The honorable mentions are Kerry Rhodes, 2010 (90 tackles, 4 picks, 4 FR, 2 were scoop and scores), and Kwamie Lassiter, 2001 (112 tackles, 9 INTs).

There is fierce competition for the strong safety position. We chose Tim McDonald, 1989 (Pro Bowl, 124 tackles, 7 INTs and a TD), and  Adrian Wilson, 2006 (82 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 picks), for the First- and Second-team spots.

The honorable mentions are Jerry Norton, 1960 (All-Pro, 10 picks), Jerry Stoval, 1966 (Second-team All-Pro), Rashad Johnson, 2014 (101 tackles, 4 picks, 2 for scores),  Leonard Smith, 1986 (Second-team All-Pro, 119 tackles, 5 sacks), and Pat Tillman, 2000 (Sports Illustrated All-Pro, 145 tackles).
Aeneas Williams, 1995 (All-Pro, 62 tackles, 6 INTs, 2 TDs) and Night Train Lane, 1956 (All-Pro, 7 picks and a TD), head an incredibly deep position for the Cardinal franchise. 
Patrick Peterson, 2015 (All-Pro), and Roger Wehrli, 1976 (All-Pro), are the next-best. Peterson's 2011 and 2013 were close, as were the 1975 and 1977 seasons of Wehrli.

Pat Fischer, 1964 (All-Pro, 10 picks, 2 for TDs), Jimmy Hill, 1962, Miller Farr, 1970, Billy Stacy, 1961, Norm Thompson, 1975, Marshall Goldberg, 1941, and Robert Massey, 1992, merit HM. Ollie Matson's 1954 deserves to be in this group as well.

The middle/inside linebackers are E.J. Junior, 1984 (All-Pro, 118 tackles, 9.5 sacks), followed by Dale Meinert, 1964 (Second-team All-Pro). Junior actually moved positions in 1983, from outside to middle but often rushed from the outside accounting for his high sack totals. To be a Second-team All-Pro in 1964 in a league with Joe Schmidt, Ray Nitchke, Sam Huff and Bill George was quite a feat. We've not seen much film of Meinert in 1964 but in the 1960s, he made three pro Bowls and hung with some ofthe greats of All-time,.

The HMs are Eric Hill, 1996 (131 tackles), Ronald McKinnon, 1998 (85 tackles and 5 picks), and money backer Deone Bucannon, 2015 (109 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 FF one pick six).

Daryl Washington, 2012 (134 tackles, 9 sacks), and  Karlos Dansby, 2013 (Second-team All-Pro, 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 4 INT, 2 for TDs) take the top OLBer First-team slots. Both these players are hybrid-type backers, playing plenty on the inside in substitute defensive packages.

John Abraham, 2013 (Pro Bowl, 37 tackles, 11.5 sacks) and Larry Stallings, 1970 (Pro Bowl), and  are the Second-teamers. Abraham was a rush backer while Stallings was a classic 4-3 type linebacker.
Ken Harvey, 1990 (99 tackles, 10 sacks), and Niko Noga, 1985 (74 tackles, 10 stuffs), and are the honorable mentions.

The top two defensive tackles are Darnell Dockett, 2009 (Second-team All-Pro, 51 tackles, 7 sacks), and Eric Swann, 1995 (Pro Bowl, 53 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 8.5 stuffs).

The Second-team choices are Chuck Walker, 1967 (Second-team All-Pro, 13½ sacks) and Luke Owens, 1963 (Second-team All-NFL by NY Daily News, 11 sacks) 

The deep group of honorable mentions Sam Silas, 1965 (Pro Bowl, 5 sacks), Bob Rowe, 1968 (Pro Bowl, 5½ sacks), Frank Fuller, 1959 (Second-team All-Pro), Jerry Groom, 1954 (Pro Bowl), David Galloway, 1983 (36 tackles, 12 sacks). and Mike Dawson, 1978 (94 tackles, 9 sacks 6.5 stuffs as a nose tackle).

Simeon Rice, 1999 (Second-team All-Pro, 49 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 4 FF), and  Curtis Greer, 1983 (42 tackles, 16 sacks), are our choices for First-team defensive ends. Greer was highly rated by Pro Scout, Inc, and in 1984 he had 14 sacks and was Second-team All-NFC)

Freddie Joe Nunn, 1988 (Second-team All-NFC, 53 tackles, 14 sacks), and Calais Campbell, 2011 (71 tackles, 8 sacks 10 passes deflected), take the Second-team spots.

The honorable mentions are Joe Robb, 1966 (Second-team All-Pro, 9½ sacks), Bertrand Berry, 2004 (Second-team All-Pro, 49 tackles, 14.5 sacks), Clyde Simmons, 1995 (54 tackles, 11 sacks, 6 FF and a pick six), Tom Wham, 1950 (Pro Bowl), Leo Sugar, 1961 (Second-team All-Pro), Al Baker, 1983 (57 tackles, 13.5 sacks), and Don Brumm, 1968 (Pro Bowl, 8 sacks).

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