By John Turney
For the third straight year, as an homage to Vinny DiTrani and Larry Weisman, we've chosen a team of non-Pro Bowlers and All-Pros that deserve recognition and combine the names of teams that DiTrani and Weisman gave to their teams, i.e. the Allmost All-Pro Team and the All-Joe Team into the Allmost All-Joe Team.
In the early 1970s, DiTriani began this practice and we collected all those teams we think they were very insightful and were great reads. Many great players he mentioned we chosen for All-Pro or the Pro Bowl the next year and can be used as a resource when doing research as to finding players who had terrific seasons in a year they got no other post-season honors.
Weisman began his All-Joe team for USA Today later and was named for Joe Phillips—A tough-nosed defensive tackle who was gritty and someone who'd never make a Pro Bowl based on this position and lack of stats. So, Weisman began picking his own non-"All" team.
What is also key is that Weisman, especially, didn't limit the team to 25 players. He picked those who he deemed deserving. We do the same within reason, that is.
Here is our Allmost All-Joe Team—
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins—All he does is get trashed by the Twitterverse as being just a mediocre (if that) quarterback. All he does in response is win and lead the NFL in passing with a 107.8 passer rating, a league-leading 8.63 yards per attempt average, and a 24-5 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. His Dolphins are 8-6 (though he did miss a little time) against the NFL's toughest strength of
schedule (currently a .543 winning percentage by opponents). All he got from his peers is no Pro Bowl. He's Allmost-All-Joe, though.
Alec Ingold, Dolphins—Yes, another South Florida workhorse. He missed the Pro Bowl but he's been a great fullback in a similar scheme that Kyle Juszczyk is featured in - doing a lot of lead blocking and a little bit of everything else.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers-49ers—McCaffrey is fifth in the NFL in combined yards has toted the football 200 times, and has snagged 74 passes. He gave the 49ers a weapon they didn't have - a Marshall Faulk-type player who can run, catch out of the backfield but also line up outside and run wide receiver routes.
Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins—Yes, a third Miamian. He's seventh in receiving yards and leads the NFL in yards per catch. Remember that statistic? He's a perfect compliment to the Cheetah Tyreek Hill.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions—An excellent move-the-chains-guy. He's fifth in the NFL among wide receivers in gaining first downs with 57 and had three more running.
David Njoku, Browns—he doesn't have superstar numbers but he's an elite blocker from the tight end position. Most teams would kill to have a guy like him.
Penei Sewell, Lions—In a conference with Trent Williams, Lane Johnson, and Tristan Wirfs and with only three slots it's hard to make the NFC Pro Bowl team. Sewell, though is worthy. He's a powerful blocker and made a name for himself nationally but running a route and catching the ball. John Madden would have loved this guy.
Andrew Thomas, Giants and Christian Darrisaw, Vikings—Too tough to separate so we went with both at left tackle. Both had excellent years but were in the same boat as Sewell. It can be argued that six of the top eight tackles in the NFL are in the NFC. making the AFC team seems to be easier at the tackle position.
Michael Onwenu, Patriots—This former Michigan Wolverine will get some All-Pro votes as he should. He digs people out on running plays and moves them. That is not as easy in the NFL as it is in college but he does it.
Kevin Zeitler, Ravens—Should be the new poster boy for the AllMost-All-Pro Team. Weisman, especially, would feature overlooked guys who were just good and never got any notice. Zeitler is that kind of guy - a Joe Phillips-type.
Connor McGovern, Jets—Consistent, steady, no holding calls he's the best Connor McGovern in the NFL, though the one in Dallas is pretty good.
Josh Sweat, Eagles, and Montez Sweat, Commanders—Both play the run, but also put great pressure on the quarterback. They a tremendous pair of brothers on the defensive side of the ball. What? They are not brothers? But they both have an unusual surname and are similar athletes and they are not kin?
That's right, not related. If they were on the same team it would be a replay of Jack and Jim Youngblood who both played for the Rams in the 1970s and who were also not brothers and were excellent players.
Christian Wilkins, Dolphins—Wilkins has a crazy amount of tackles for a defensive interior player and he leads the NFL in run/pass stuffs with 13.0 and also has 2.5 sacks has swatted away two passes and forced a pair of fumbles. He's been a busy man.
Javon Hargrave, Eagles and Daron Payne, Commanders—The City of Brotherly Love has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Pro Bowl representation this year but Hargrave is not one of them.
Payne has 8.5 sacks and 7.0 run/pass stuffs. He works well with Jonathan Allen, working the left side while Allen works the right. They are well served at the defensive tackle position in the Nation's Capitol.
Foyesade Oluokun, Jaguars. He leads the NFL in tackles (he did in 2021 as well) and 8.5 have been run/pass stuffs. Duval County is seeing a darn good linebacker this year.
Matt Milano, Bills—We really thought the NFL players/coaches/fans would reward Milano with a Pro Bowl this year. He's been worthy before but this year he's been mentioned in national night games by the announcers. He's a classic Jack Ham-type 'backer - he's good at filling gaps, he can blitz effectively and he's probably the best cover linebacker in the NFL. He has 85 tackles, has picked a pair of passes and taken one of those to the house, has eight passes defended, and has 11.5 run/pass stuffs. He's had an All-Pro year. He's perhaps been overshadowed by a tall, rangy athletic Mike 'backer playing next to him in Tremaine Edmunds but he's good and has been good.
Dre Greenlaw, 49ers—See Milano.
Alex Highsmith, Steelers—TJ Watt got the Pro Bowl nod but missed too much time to deserve it. Highsmith did. he is leading the NFL with five forced fumbles and seventh in sacks. He's a classic Allmost-All-Joe
Jaycee Horn, Panthers—Horn will get some All-Pro votes. Not only has he covered well, but he'll also line up tight and get into the backfield on an offense on occasion and hurry the quarterback or nail a ball carrier for a loss.
L'Jarius Sneed, Chiefs—He's the best at what he does - slot corner. He makes a ton of tackles, blitzes the quarterback regularly and can cover as well.
Justin Simmons, Broncos—He's missed some time this year but has picked off five passes and plays on one of the best two defenses in the league. He's never been First-team All-Pro (except for our teams) and he's in the upper-upper echelon of safeties. It's hard to understand.
Eddie Jackson, Bears and Vonn Bell, Bengals—Jackson is such a good player on a poor team. If the Bears can build a team around Justin Fields, Jackson will be a star.
Bell has been around a while and he's always been good. He's got a personal defensive passer rating of 57.4 at the moment, has picked off four passes and has not allowed a touchdown as per Sportsradar. he is another player on our team that should get some All-Pro votes.
Graham Gano, Giants—There are several kickers we could have chosen but Gano kind of fits. he gets the job done in a place that is not easy to kick (though nowhere near the old Meadowlands).
Ryan Stonehouse, Titans—A boomer, not tons of touch yet. Still, his net average is third and his 53.6 gross average is currently nearly two yards higher than Sammy Baugh's record of 51.4 which has stood since 1940.
Marcus Jones, Patriots—He's taken a punt back for a game-winning score, he's third in the NFL in punt return average and fourth in kickoff return average. He is a decent cornerback and can play offense as well. He's another player John Madden would love.
Brenden Schooler, Patriots—You can see Schooler's locks flow when he's gunning down the field and usually making the tackle. He's been johnny-on-the-spot recovering fumbles and saving the Patriots bacon a couple of times. He's supplanted Matthew Slater as the king of special teams in New England.
Certainly, we've missed some - snubbed the already snubbed but we hope we've done right by DiTrani and Weisman.