Well, it's that time, folks! The World Cup, the world's most glorious and corrupt sporting event, is upon us. As America prepares to watch its team go down in the pit of hell that is Group G, I thought it might be nice for us to turn our attentions to a sport in which we would surely dominant the world even more thoroughly than Brazil does in soccer/football. That is, of course, American football! I have taken it upon myself to put together a team. Keep in mind, this isn't an "All-Pro" team - this is a full roster, designed to fill all the positions on the field, including the special teams units and provide some team chemistry. For this exercise, I'm also assuming everyone is completely healthy.
Special Teams- Returners will be mentioned in the other positions. This is just kicker, punter, and longsnapper.
Kicker - Justin Tucker
This guy is the bomb, bar none, and I despise that he wears the purple and black. WE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN HIM, DAMMIT.
Punter- Johnny Hekker
To be honest, I have no idea who this guy is, but apparently he was amazing in St. Louis this year. I maintain that punters are weapons, because field position is everything. Apparently he's the guy.
Longsnapper- J.J. Jansen
I really have no idea, but he made the Pro Bowl, so congratulations, you're going to Brazil.
Defense - We'll be working with a hybrid defense, to take advantage of the talents of both the 3-4 and 4-3 personnel around the league. Versatility in the front seven, then, is key. Let's get down to it, and let's be honest - we don't need to worry about resting anyone, because these guys will be on the field for three plays only, and that's it.
I'm going with five ends because all of these guys can move around and play different positions. Watt is, in my opinion, the best player at any position in the NFL, and can easily move inside. Quinn is an outstanding pass-rusher and could also probably play OLB in 3-4 sets. Wilkerson is a dominant defensive end in the 3-4. Williams has been successful both as an end in the 4-3 base and as an outside backer in the 3-4 (besides being a physical freak), and Justin Houston is just a monster who plays with his hand down quite a bite in Kansas City
Imagine a 3-4 front with Poe holding down the nose, Watt at LDE, and either Suh or Wilkerson at RDE. Do we really need the other positions? I don't think it'll matter. Suh's nastiness is controversial, but he'll fire up the team and play 3-4 end as well as some nose in case we don't want to play Poe there for some reason. We can throw in McCoy and Atkins as two great pass-rushers to blow up the interior whenever we want.
Inside Linebackers - Navorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Luke Kuechly,Lawrence Timmons
I want the chemistry between Bowman and Willis, in addition to their absolutely outstanding play. They're a perfect combo in the middle of a 3-4. Kuechly might be the best inside linebacker in the game, and is a terrific field general. Timmons is here because he is perpetually underrated, because I simply can't leave a Steelers linebacker off this list, and because he can play any linebacker position, in a ny set, and play it well. He'll also be a terror on special teams.
Outside Linebackers - Von Miller, Vontaze Burfict, Lavonte David, Dekoda Watson
Only three real outside 'backers here, because in the 3-4 base guys like Mario Williams and Robert Quinn will be coming in. Miller plays any set, and does it well, in addition to being outstanding in coverage. Burfict is here simply to bring the nasty in the run game, and David is an outstanding player who I think would join with Timmons to be demons on special teams. With the rest of the talent and versatility in the front seven, we can save roster spots by skimping on the outside backers. Watson is listed as an OLB, but he's here for special teams, having distinguished himself on both blocking and being a gunner.
Safeties - Earl Thomas, Troy Polamalu, Kam Chancellor, Harrison Smith
Whew, what a few years for safeties in the draft. SO many young guys to choose. In the end, you have to start with Thomas, because he's simply the best. Troy almost didn't make the list, but he's still incredible and imagine him doing his Troy thing with Earl Thomas behind him? Please. Chancellor brings the "Boom" in the Legion of Boom, and I have to have him on my team. Harrison Smith might be a surprise, but he's already one of the best, and I expect him to explode next year when he's actually healthy.
The first three are obvious - Sherman is absolutely amazing, and Peterson isn't far behind, in addition to being a physical wonder and can help on special teams as our primary returner. Revis still has it, and is actually pretty good at tackling, so he'll be a wonder in a slot. Matthieu really turned himself around as a person, and played incredibly well at both safety and corner, and I love that ability to move around. He would also be incredible in the slot, on the odd chance we have to spell Revis or one of the outside guys. Haden makes it for just being flat out good at his job. McCann is a great special teams gunner, and has had some minor experience returning as well.
Offense - It's tough- with this offense, one has to wonder whether they'll score on every play, and thus keep the defense busy, or if they'll just convert first down after first down, giving the defense about one series a quarter. Is it too much to ask for both?
This group might surprise a bit. Thomas is obvious, as the best tackle in the league. Williams plays LT in Washington, but he would be a monster on the right side. I encourage anyone who doubts to watch the Lions last year, as Reiff was outstanding at left tackle, and could easily swing to the right side, or even play guard.
Offensive Guard- Marshall Yanda, Josh Sitton, Mike Iupati
The big uglies - I certainly hope DeCastro will be here four years from now on my next list, but right now, I want these three guys. All big, all mean, and dominant road-graders. Sitton is also amazing as a pass-blocker. Iupati comes in to spell the first two, because he's one of my favorite players.
Center- Maurkice Pouncey, Alex Mack
The AFC North is fairly present on this offensive line. Pouncey is simply the best, as well as being a great leader, provided he can stay healthy. Without DeCastro to put his helmet into his knee, he should be fine. Mack really is just as good as Pouncey, but don't tell those clowns in Cleveland I said so.
Tight End- Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten
WHAT? No Jimmy Graham? No Heath Miller? I'm sorry to say, while I love Heath (and have his jersey), he's not quite the receiver he once was. Graham can't block - he really is a wide receiver, and frankly, we don't need him. Sadly, as much as I despise Gronkowski, he's simply too amazing to leave off, as he is the best receiver and the best blocker. Davis is right behind him in both areas, and Witten simply knows everything, and plays his ass off. I also think he might knock Gronk around a bit and maybe get him to settle down. Imagine a three tight end set - you'd think it would be a run. It certainly could be, with these blockers, except wait, play action, Davis streaks deep… TOUCHDOWN!
When Julio Jones is healthy, he's amazing, and so he plays across from Megatron, who is so obvious I might reach through the screen and punch anyone who argues. Jeffrey is one of the best the league right now, and his skillset is basically Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz almost made the list, but Jeffrey is younger and faster now, so sorry Larry. Brown obviously makes this list, because he brings a completely different skill-set with equal productivity to any of this guys, as well as working as one of our returners with Patrick Peterson. Randall Cobb is about to explode, trust me, and works with Brown to provide some speedy, after the catch guys.
Peterson and McCoy are the very best, and McCoy has the advantage of being a tremendous receiver as well. Peterson is always amazing, and I love his physicality - am I right, Anthony Smith? Skittles is simply cool, and I love his attitude and his effort. He can catch a bit too. Kuhn comes in as a blocker who can also run a bit, as well as play special teams.
Brees is never really going to dress - sorry dude. But he is perhaps the most accurate quarterback ever, especially on the deep ball. Manning mostly makes the team because of his brain - I want him on the sideline holding the clipboard - his arm is simply too weak to overtake Rodgers, who is, terrible commercials aside, the best quarterback in the league right now. I don't care how many touchdowns Manning threw to perhaps the most absurd receiving core of all time with his outstanding protection, Rodgers rocks.
Tell me what you think!