The Midseason All-Splash Team: Defensive and Special Teams Edition

The Midseason All-Splash Team: Defensive and Special Teams Edition

by November 3, 2019 0 comments

Welcome to the unofficial halfway point of the 2019 season. Eight weeks have flown by, and lots of players have been standouts. Here is a look at my All-Splash team, a riff on the All-Pro team.

Defensively, I will use a 3-3-5 formation.

An asterisk denotes their inclusion in my All-Pro predictions articles.

Interior Defensive Lineman: Aaron Donald*

Stats: 5.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles

Aaron Donald is still the best player in football. The two-time reigning defensive player of the year has been every bit as good as he was in 2018. While his sack numbers have not matched his absurd tally from 2018, he has been even better as a run stuffer. Donald is well on his way to earning a spot on the Mount Rushmore of all-time great defensive players.

EDGE: Myles Garrett

Stats: 10.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles

The former No. 1 overall pick has become a superstar in 2019. Garrett has a sack in six of seven games, plus a trio of multi-sack performances. The Browns have been disappointing, but Garrett has lived up to even the stiffest expectations this season. Garrett is a shoo-in to make his second Pro Bowl roster.

EDGE: Shaquil Barrett

Stats: 10.0 sacks, nine tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, one interception

In a few weeks, Barrett will have doubled his career sack total. While he has slowed down from his nearly perfect start to the season, Barrett is still tied for the NFL lead in sacks. Barrett leads the NFL in forced fumbles, and he has been a bright spot on an otherwise terrible defense. Barrett’s first four weeks of the season rival any player’s production in the history of the league as he registered nine sacks, three forced fumbles, a pair of passes defensed, and an interception.

Linebacker: Luke Kuechly*

Stats: 72 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions, one safety

Kuechly has been the best player on one of the NFL’s best defenses. Yes, the Panthers allowed 51 points to the 49ers a week ago, but this group of players considers the whole season. Kuechly has been the NFL’s premier linebacker (when healthy) for almost a decade, and it is no different in 2019. Kuechly is well on his way to a seventh Pro Bowl and a sixth All-Pro selection.

Linebacker: Jamie Collins

Stats: 44 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, one touchdown

Welcome to the Patriots part of the roster. If you are a Patriots hater, feel free to skip the next few players. In the meantime, Collins has been tremendous for the NFL’s best defense. After a 30-game exodus to Cleveland, Collins has returned to his 2015 Pro Bowl level and then some as he has set a career-high in sacks and has been disruptive in coverage and as a blitzer.

Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower

Stats: 27 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one touchdown

Yes, Hightower was on my list before his scoop-and-score against the Browns last Sunday. Hightower has been every bit as good as Jamie Collins as a coverage linebacker. Hightower is the engine of the Patriots defense, and he is a major reason as to why the Patriots currently allow fewer than eight points per game.

Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore*

Stats: three interceptions, 62 return yards, one touchdown

I was ahead of the curve in appointing Gilmore as the best cornerback in the NFL, but the 2019 version of Gilmore has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Gilmore’s performance against the Giants in primetime is on the shortlist of greatest performances by a player in the 2010s as he registered an interception and five passes defensed. Gilmore has been comically good.

Cornerback: Marlon Humphrey*

Stats: Two interceptions, 14 return yards, one touchdown

Humphrey has been a game-changer in 2019. In terms of thievery, two of Baltimore’s five wins can be pinned on the work of No. 44. Humphrey has been effective in every role from ball-hawk to shut down corner. If you would like to dispute this selection, please talk to a certain Odell Beckham who was clamped in Week 4.

Safety: Devin McCourty

Stats: Five interceptions, 49 return yards

The final Patriot, McCourty leads the NFL in interceptions. Interceptions are a fickle stat at times, so McCourty has doubled as an elite safety even when he is not taking the ball away. McCourty has been nearly flawless in coverage and run support, and he offers upside as one of the most versatile defensive players in the NFL.

Safety: Micah Hyde

Stats: One interception, one forced fumble, one kick return touchdown

One of the most underrated players in the NFL, Hyde has been tremendous for the Bills’ defense this season. Hyde functions as both a traditional playmaking safety (as evidenced by his takeaways and pass deflections), but he has also played the role of a communicator in making sure the Bills do not allow many big plays.

Nickel: TreDavious White

Stats: Three interceptions, two forced fumbles

White is as shutdown as it gets in the NFL. White allows a passer rating of 36.2. In normal terms, quarterbacks are more successful when they spike the ball into the ground as opposed to targeting White. White’s passer rating allowed is even lower than the untouchable Gilmore.

Kicker: Justin Tucker*

Stats: 16/16 FGs, 20/20 XPs, long of 51 yards

Almost every team in the NFL has had their fair share of kicking problems since Justin Tucker came into the league in 2012. The Ravens have had no such trouble as Tucker has connected on 90.7% of field goals and 99.6% of extra points in his career. Tucker is back to his usual ways as he has yet to miss a kick on the season. He is the best kicker in the NFL.

Punter: Brett Kern

Stats: 47 punts, 2,218 yards, 47.2 yards per punt

Kern has been phenomenal. The two-time Pro Bowler leads the NFL in both punts and punt yardage, and he has been weaponized by the Titans’ poor offense to create more advantageous positions for the defense to play from.

Kick returner: Cordarrelle Patterson*

Stats: 13 returns, 417 yards, one touchdown

There are only a handful of certainties in life: death, taxes, and Cordarrelle Patterson being the only player that can consistently return kickoffs for touchdowns. Patterson has a sixth, seventh, and eighth sense concerning the return of a kickoff. At this point, the Bears are more likely to return a kick for a touchdown than they are to see Mitch Trubisky string together multiple passes.

Punt returner: Tarik Cohen*

Stats: 16 returns, 190 yards, 11.9 yards per return

The Bears have been a tremendous disappointment, but they have the two best return men in the NFL at the moment. Cohen has the season-long punt return of 71 yards, and he leads the NFL in yards per return. Similar to Cordarrelle Patterson, Tarik Cohen is a better offensive weapon as a punt returner than Matt Nagy and the Chicago offense could create in a lab.

I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Reply