Here's PFF's All-NFC SOuth team. Saints dominate offense. Falcons dominate defense.https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2 ... outh-team/
2011 PFF All-NFC South Team
January 26th, 2012 | Author: John Breitenbach
I’m not sure if this article wouldn’t be better titled “All-Saints offense” and “All-Falcons defense” because of the majority each team is featured in those respective units.
It’s not all good news for New Orleans, however, as three of their best players are set to become free agents. The fact the Bucs have just two participants here goes a long way to explaining why Raheem Morris no longer has a job. The up-and-coming Panthers have four entrants which, while still pretty poor, at least helps to avoid Tampa Bay’s embarrassment.
With that said, lets train our gaze on the PFF All-NFC South team for 2011.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO
I’m struggling to find anything more to praise about Brees. He just does everything so well. Whether its avoiding the rush or throwing strikes deep down the field, he makes it all look so effortless. He made us question whether Aaron Rodgers was indeed the NFL’s best quarterback. That in itself is some achievement.
Running Backs: Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas, NO
The former Charger proved himself a better version of Reggie Bush and even developed into a redzone threat to round out his game. Sproles’ unique speed & quickness combinations often serves to make linebackers look silly. Thomas reminds me a little of Fred Jackson and I have a feeling he could break out if given more of a role and was able to stay healthy. He’s incredibly difficult to tackle and has the kind of power that befits a man of much larger size.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, NO
Graham isn’t much of a blocker, but then again, when you catch 99 balls for over 1300 yards and double digit touchdowns, does it really matter? If Colston is the master of tough grabs amongst receivers, then Graham is the master for TEs and his battle with Rob Gronkowski for the receiving record was a great story in the final few weeks of the regular season. When you’re a player fans think of as changing the game of football, you know you’ve got a good chance of making this team.
Wide Receivers: Steve Smith, CAR and Marques Colston, NO
Smith’s career revival is really something to marvel as he amassed nearly 1400 yards. He was surrounded by trade rumors last summer and the Panthers can only be ecstatic that nothing came to pass. His counterpart Colston takes some vicious hits and yet still only dropped a pair of passes all year. Colston’s ability to elevate and get the ball at its highest point is obscene, and only Calvin Johnson can really compete. Roddy White loses out as his numerous drops provide ample reason.
Tackles: Jordan Gross, CAR and Tyson Clabo, ATL
Gross had a very solid season for the Panthers, grading positively in every category. While 40 combined pressures sounds like a lot, he only allowed his QB to be knocked down 10 times while dropping back in pass protection often. As for Clabo, Atlanta’s decision to re-sign him proved to be a good one. Considering he’s the league’s fifth-best pass protector, he makes the line’s struggles on the left side that much more obvious.
Guards: Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, NO
Nicks allowed pressure on just 12 separate occasions in 2011, an impressive feat. He may have the highest ceiling of all guards and it was only his lack of consistency that stopped him from being our top-ranked guard. Evans hasn’t quite lived up to his massive contract, but then that was always going to be hard. A good-but-not-great year for the Saints’ highest paid lineman.
Center: Todd McClure, ATL
McClure is another veteran who just does his job consistently well. There aren’t many offensive linemen who managed to avoid giving up a single penalty last year, in fact Kevin Boothe was the only other center to do so and that was in less than half of McClure’s snaps. A solid pass protector (no sacks allowed) and impressive run blocker, he well deserves his place.
Defensive Ends: John Abraham, ATL and Michael Bennett, TB
The symbolic Falcon defensive end just keeps getting it done. There were few superior pass rushers this season than Abraham, who also held his own against the run. Partnering with him is a man who does a whole lot more than that in Michael Bennett. Only Terrell Suggs had a higher grade against the run and he had the advantage of 300 more snaps. That’s not to disparage Bennett’s pass rush ability either as he amassed a healthy 38 combined sacks, hits and hurries.
Defensive Tackles: Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters, ATL
It really hurt the Falcons that Babineaux was only able to play 500 snaps, as he is far and away their best defensive tackle. Eight QB knockdowns is pretty impressive for a guy that barely played half a season. Peters showed a lot of potential early on, but needs to be more consistent going forward. This really is a division lacking in quality tackle play.
Linebackers: Stephen Nicholas, Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon, ATL
Nicholas is a prototypical 4-3 strongside linebacker who defends the run well and has some pass rushing ability. I would say Atlanta should try to get him on the field more (he played just 286 snaps), but there’s no way he’s taking reps away from the other two. What a sophomore year it was for Weatherspoon who looked a far cry from the player who struggled so much in 2010. Lofton rounds out the group here and he’s a big reason why the Falcons are solid against the run despite their sub-par tackle play. It says a lot about this division that no player came close to challenging the Falcons’ trio.
Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes, ATL and Chris Gamble, CAR
The Falcons sorely missed Grimes when it came to playoff time and he was sidelined with an injury. He’s already developed into one of the league’s best corners and will likely command a king’s ransom on the open market. After a disappointing 2010, Gamble had something of a career renaissance allowing a QB rating of just 53.3. In the slot, we were forced to go with Captain Munnerlyn, a default selection. Great name mind.
Safeties: Malcolm Jenkins, NO and William Moore, ATL
Jenkins is a decent centerfielder whose range gave Gregg Williams a lot of scheme flexibility–just don’t ask him to cover Vernon Davis. Next to him, Moore has developed into a very solid safety. Health is his main problem as he just can’t seem to avoid getting nicked up.
Kicker: Connor Barth, TB – Had our third highest grade on field goals this season, only missed two kicks.
Punter: Thomas Morstead, NO – Netted 44.1 yards per punt.
Returner: Darren Sproles, NO – Our top-ranked returner overall, contributed on both kick and punt returns.
Special Teamer: Akeem Dent, ATL – Great on kickoffs, made 14 special teams tackles.