Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Channeling John Madden for the '2022 All-Madden Team'

 By John Turney 
John Madden Thanksgiving Sticker

Last year we lost Hall of Fame head coach and broadcaster John Madden and among the many iconic things he did in his incredible career was picking his annual All-Madden teams. It was anticipated by many every season as it always unveiled surprises and funny commentary accompanied by excellent NFL Films footage.

As an homage to those classic All-Madden teams, we are picking a 2022 version narrated in his voice and chose guys we think he might have picked were we lucky enough to still have him around.


Offensive line
My guys are the offensive linemen. They get nasty, dirty, sweat, and spit. You won't see them on the cover of magazines or making commercials. They just get hard work done. 

The center I like is Jason Kelce. He's a leader and he can run, he can lead sweeps, and he gets downfield like Jim Otto used to. He's like a lot of those old centers in the 1970s who could run, Len Hauss of Washington or Rich Saul of the Rams. Kelce sets the tone for that Eagles offense no one can seem to stop.

My big nasty guards are Ben Powers of the Ravens, who looks like a phone booth, and Mike Onwenu of New England who is a road grader. Powers is 310 but looks like he's 330 and Onwwenu is listed at 350 and looks like he's 370. Both are par'ful and can be nimble, too. There are guys that I love, too, guys like Zack Martin who is an All-Pro's All-Pro and who is going to the Hall of Fame but I want Powers and Onwenu this year.

Trent Williams is like Art Shell was, a man-mountain that moves like a cat. Penei Sewell is the same. He can block the run he can pass protect, you can line him up as an extra tight end or a fullback and if you want, he can run a pass route from those spots not just lead block. Those are my tackles.
David Quessenberry
Any team needs backups, even if you have a star-studded offensive line. And when you do the guys stepping in may not be as good as your starters but they need to be versatile and tough. David Quessenberry fits that bill. He can play guard, or either tackle and he can play through pain. Even on national television, he gutted it out. 

One thing about playing left tackle is you can get embarrassed in a hurry. And that is when you are a top draft pick and healthy. If you are not both of those things the odds of embarrassment go up and you have to have the courage to face both the possibility of those odds and to me, Quessenberry did just that. He's my backup lineman this year. 

In addition, when healthy he's a pretty good player. He worked his way into being a starter last year with the Titans after being a sixth-round pick of the Texans and being on the bench for a couple of years. Welcome to the All-Madden team, David.

Tight end

George Kittle
I had a tight end named Dave Casper who was a tackle at Notre Dame. The Steelers had a tight end named Larry Brown who they converted to a tight end. Down to coast from me, in Los Angeles, the Rams had a guy named Bob Klein, who became a dentist, but there was a serious conversation about him being moved from tight end to tackle. They won't do that with George Kittle but he fits that mold of a player. 

George reminds me of All-World tight end Russ Francis who played tight end in a running offense in New England. He was a 4.5 guy, liked to surf big waves in Hawaii, and could catch anything you threw to him. The problem was the Patriots didn't throw much and when they did it was deep to guys like Standley Morgan and Harold Jackson and God rest his soul Darryl Stingley. So that made Russ more of a decoy.

Later in Big Russ's career Bill Walsh traded for him but used him more as a blocker than a receiver. But Russ did as he was told and blocked like Casper, Brown, and Klein. 

But boy, oh, boy if played today he'd be like George Kittle. He'd run wider receiver routes, he'd run the pipe and split cover-2 defenses, he'd block defensive ends, he'd be like George Kittle now.

There are tight ends with bigger numbers than Kittle. And they are great, great players who will be in the Hall of Fame with Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzales someday but I want a throwback tight end who blocks like a tackle and catches like a receiver. That's George Kittle.

Today's game is a passing game and you have to have the sleek fast guys that can get chunks of yards against multiple coverages the defenses throw at him. You got man and zones, shells and quarters. You have dime and nickel packages, penny fronts and every coin in your change purse and Tyreek Hill is one of those who can take all your money. His nickname is "Cheetah" and it's perfect for him. He has the speed of a Cliff Branch and the Dolphins use him in a variety of ways. Short, deep, in the slot, on the move, on sweeps. Just everything.
Justin Jefferson
The Vikings Justin Jefferson is another of my wideouts. You gotta have a glory guy, someone who can make defensive backs look bad and Justin is that guy. He can catch balls that should have been intercepted, just takes 'em away from the defender.  Some people said the Vikings were frauds. I don't know about that but Justin Jefferson sure wasn't. I know that.

If I had him I'd write myself a note to remind me to throw him the ball about four to five times a quarter.

Terry McLaurin of Washington reminds me of Gary Clark. Just a tough guy who plays wide receiver. You always have to have a third wide receiver like him. No, he does not have eye-popping statistics. But when you watch him your eyes pop.

Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts is my quarterback this year. He's confident, he makes plays with his legs and arm. He's probably going to be the NFL MVP this year and gives the Eagles a chance to win a Super Bowl. He also has a great name for the All-Madden teams, "Hurts" and that is what he does to defenses. And remember if your feet hurt then you should try tough-acting Tinactin™. Nothing works better for athlete's foot.

In the NFL you need a backup quarterback and you need a pretty good one so I will go with Brock Purdy. he's the guy you need when your guy goes down. Actually, in Purdy's case, he's the guy the 49ers needed when the guy who replaced their guy went down. So he's THAT guy. And when that guy can get you to the playoffs and not lose a game along the way, that guy is purdy good, even if he hands the ball off backward in Mexico. 

Running backs
Derrick Henry has the best stiff arm in the league and he's the Titans entire offense. When someone can put a team on his back and carry it then he's an All-Madden type of back.

When Henry needs a break and we need a guy to throw to out of the backfield or who can also carry the ball I want Deebo Samuel of the 49ers. If he were a full-time running back he'd run for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes. If he only played wide receiver he'd get close to 2,000 yards receiving. He never lets one guy tackle him to the ground. He's only 215 pounds but he looks like he's 230. Lemme tell you Deebo is a problem for defenses. He's the All-Madden all-purpose receiving back.

My team has to have a fullback. Maybe more than one. Patrick Ricard plays tight end, he's played defense in the past, he lead blocks and blocks on the edge as a wing or tight end and if you want, he can play defensive line. 

Kyle Juszczyk is not as big but he does all those little things, too I have to have both of them. Juszczyk is a Swiss Army knife. Like Ricard, he plays fullback, but he can carry the ball and catch passes better, he can motion into the quarterback position and take a snap and sneak for a first-down in short yardage. I bet he could throw a pass if he had to. 

And when a new guy like Christian McCaffrey comes to the team he can tell the new guy where to line up. And that happened. In a game against the Rams McCaffrey went to the slot then didn't seem sure, Juice-check pointed to the spot and said, "Right here". And that is where McCaffrey went. 

That's part of the Swiss Army knife-guy's job. Directing traffic.

Defensive tackles
In 1985 I picked seven nose tackles for my All-Madden team. This year I am going to pick extra guys who play inside. They all are my kind of guy. Quinnen Williams and Dexter Lawrence are both tearing up Gotham City for the Jets and Giants.

Sexy Dexter is a member of B.U.B.B.A.—the Brotherhood United of Bad Bodies of America. He 6-4, 342 (so the roster says) and he's a rock in the middle of the Giants defense. He's a throwback to Michael Carter, one of the seven nose tackles I chose in 1985. An immovable object. And people forget that Carter had seven sacks that year. Big Dex also has seven so he does a pretty good job as pass rusher, too.

Quinnen is like that, too. He just messes up blocking schemes and frustrates opposing offensive coordinators by messing up their game plans.
Christian Wilkins
Another inside guy that is a classic All-Madden guy is Christian Wilkins. You gotta have a guy who makes tackles. I mean, it's tackle football, right? He made almost one hundred tackles and a bunch were in the backfield. No, not a lot were sacks but that is what your ends are for. Wilkins is for making tackles.

No, I am not done with my big guys. You gotta throw in a glory guy at tackle and no one is better at that than Chris Jones. Earlier this season, Chris had one of the best strip-sacks in the history of the game where he made a great move, got to the quarterback, stole the ball on the way down, braced himself so he didn't use his full body weight so as to not draw a flag, and he got penalized anyway. I'm all for protecting the quarterbacks. 

We should have done it more in my day, but doggone it, that was one of the best plays I have ever seen a defensive lineman ever make and it didn't count. Something's got to be done about these roughing calls. Too many flags for things that are not fouls, even under current rules.

So Chris is the "Big Daddy Lipscomb" of this year's All-Madden team—tall, rangy, quick, and when he turns it on, he's just unstoppable

Defensive ends
Yeah, I said defensive ends, not edges. Edges are for shaving. And for shaving I like Gillette™. Smooth, safe, and comfortable, that's an edge I can understand.
Maxx Crosby
As I was saying ends and I like defensive ends who can rush and play the run. Maxx Crosby is that guy. He has sacks and also has tackled the running back eleven times for losses. He's blocked a kick and gets held about 10 times a game. His nickname is "The Condor" because of his long arms or wingspan and when he gets a sack he flaps his arms like one. Hey, my team needs a little flair.

In today's game, some people think defensive linemen don't need to stop the run. Lemme tell you they still do. In these 4-2 or 5-1 or even 3-3 fronts with six guys in the box you have to have linemen who are conscientious about stopping the run and Mad Maxx is one of those kinda guys. He could be one of two guys entering Thunderdome and be the one who leaves.

Nick Bosa is like Crosby but he moves around more. He's a speed guy, he's a power guy, he's a hands guy. He's a good-looking guy. He's like Howie Long and you have to have that around, you can't just be a bunch of big uglies, you need a PR guy, someone that says, "Hey, we look good." Bosa's a classic All-Madden guy and if he keeps going he may get a Super Bowl trophy. He's a shoo-in for the Defensive Player of the Year. That's a lot of hardware for Bosa. Speaking of hardware when you have a tough job to do make sure you go to your local Ace Hardware™ store. They make your hard work a little easier with the right tools for your job.
J.J. Watt
We also have to pick J.J. Watt who is retiring after twelve NFL seasons. Someone ought to make a poster of "Mr. Football" and this guy outta be on it. If a Martian landed in my yard and asked, "What is a football player?" I'd go get J.J. Watt. The NFL will miss J.J., that is for sure and for certain.

As you can tell I like guys who can do more than one thing and Micah Parsons is one of them. He plays inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end, heck, he could probably play defensive back. He's like Bobby Bell, the Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chiefs. We could never do anything against that guy. We'd think he's covering and he'd blitz. We'd think he's going to blitz and he drops into coverage. 

Fred Warner of San Francisco and Tremaine Edmunds of Buffalo are my inside linebackers. We didn't have guys like them in my day, not playing inside that is. There were a few guys like them playing outside, tall, rangy, fast, but Warner and Edmunds could play power forward in the NBA, they run, get their hands up so you can't throw over them, they cover so much ground you can't run around them. You can't do anything. Both are like heat-seeking missiles . . . they hone in on their targets and close fast and smack you.

Another guy I want is Isaiah Simmons. He's a linebacker, a free safety a strong safety, and slot corner. He could be a defensive end, too, if you asked him to be. 

Talanoa Hufanga of the 49ers is a monster. Makes plays in the backfield, causes turnovers, and can give you a lick. He's special. he's a cross between Troy Polamalu and Ronnie Lott.

As my other safety, I am going with the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu of the Saints. I love the way he plays football. He can play like a ball hawk type safety, he can play slot, linebacker, whatever you want, he can do it.

You gotta have guys who can cover. Sauce Gardner, he's going to cover you with sauce. The kind of sauce I like is the special sauce on a Big Mac®, and boy is that stuff good and remembers people, nobody can get you a great hot meal faster than McDonalds™. Anyway, Sauce is a lot like my Willie Brown was.
Jalen Ramsey
My other corner is Jalen Ramsey gave up some touchdowns this year but he was a thumper in the run game and could blitz and if you wanted to cover a big guy, like a D.K. Metcalf or DeAndre Hopkins or guys like that, Ramsey is your guy. he plays outside and also plays a "star" position, a slot corner, but I like the sound of "star". Your corner needs to be a star and Ramsey is a star. He can track a ball, pick it off, run with it after he catches it, and can rush and knock down a pass that way, he rushes from the edge on kick block units, and he also is a jammer sometimes on punt returns. He's another football player who can do a lot of things for me on my team.

Some people were offended that Jalen Ramsey gave the Seattle fans his middle finger in the season finale. Sure, it's not good for kids to see that, but you have to remember this is still the NFL and men will stand their ground sometimes. I could tell you some of the things I have seen and heard in my years in the NFL and trust me, you cannot repeat them in church. So, sure, Jalen got frustrated so he just gave the Seabird fans a bird of his own. Seems fair to me. I like his game.

All-Purpose players
Marcus Jones, Patriots. You always need a guy who can contribute in many ways and Jones is one of those. He can catch a pass and take it all the way, and he can deliver a hard hit like he did on Monday Night Football against the Cardinals. He can take a punt back on you and can run back kicks as well. heck, he is another guy who could probably throw a touchdown pass on you as well.
Taysom Hill
Another guy who can do a ton of things is Taysom Hill. He can run the ball, catch it, throw it. He plays special teams. He could probably drive the team bus if you asked him to. I woulda loved having him on my team. I would wonder, though, how can a tough guy be so nice? I mean, he probably teaches Sunday school in the off-season. Taysom can kind of makes up for Jalen and his obscene gestures so it kind of evens out, wouldn't ya say? Hill evens out your karma. 

The Ravens kicker Justin Tucker didn't have his best year but he's still a kicker who belongs on my team any day. He can kick darn near a 70-yard field goal or sing an aria, whatever that is, I guess it is some kind of opera, but you have to have some culture and Tucker brings that to the All-Madden team to go along with his big leg.

Johnny Hekker of the Panthers is like Ray Guy was. He nails teams inside the twenty-yard line more than anyone which creates long fields, he's a good athlete, can throw a pass for you on a fake punt or even as a holder on a fake field goal and though there may be guys with a better gross average what we looked at when I was coaching was he net average and hang time. That's what matters and that is what Johnny Hekker brings you. 

Special teamer
Josh Metellus 
Josh Metellus of the Vikings didn't make as many tackles as some other special teams players but he did block a pair of punts and that matters. Blocked punts can be devastating and often lead to points either directly or on short drives. They are invaluable to a team and a guy who can get them is too.


Well, that's my 2022 All-Madden Team. I think I can coach them to a few wins with them. We can run the ball down the opponent's throat and throw it around the field. We can rush the passer and stop the run. We can kick it, block your kicks, we got guys who can play multiple positions so you never know who is going to do what. 

We're versatile, we're smart, we're tough and ornery. We got a Cheetah and a Honey Badger plus a Condor. We have an opera singer and a "we look good guy". We've got throwbacks and keepers. We have it all. 

They're my kinda guys.

After the game, we'll sit down and have a Miller Lite©, which tastes great and is less filling than your regular beer. Everyone will enjoy that, I think. Well, except Taysom, he'll have a Fresca© or something.


  1. From Brian wolf ...

    Haha ... Great job, John. The endorsements were great, hopefully royalty checks may come your way.

    "Another ace is J'marr Chase, who can be physical with defensive backs, clutch in big games and make huge plays. He has true value for a team trying to go back to the Super Bowl and speaking of True Value, the place for all your home needs" ...

    1. Good one. Going to steal that one for next year.

  2. love the photo of Jalen Ransey flipping the bird....well played!