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RuthlessBurgher
07-15-2009, 12:27 PM
http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-3-172/Player-survey--Top-QB-and-toughest-player.html


Player survey: Top QB and toughest player

July 15, 2009 12:00 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Coming off a thrilling Super Bowl XLIII victory and two titles in the past four seasons, it is no surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers were the dominant team among their peers in the 2009 AFC North player survey.

In our final installment of the series, a pair of Steelers once again reigns supreme for the categories of top quarterback and toughest player.

Best QB: Ben Roethlisberger

When it comes to quarterbacks, it was clear that winning matters most when gaining respect among players in NFL locker rooms.

"You can't argue with two Super Bowls," said one rival when voting for Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger as the division's best quarterback.

Said another opponent, "It's not even a question."

According to AFC North players, the only real question in this category turned out to be who is the second-best quarterback in the AFC North.

Most opponents were split nearly down the middle between Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens. Palmer edged Flacco by a 7-5 vote to earn second place.

But it was telling that Flacco earned considerable respect from his peers after a stellar rookie season in which he led the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game. During that run Flacco became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win two road playoff games, which came against a pair of division champions in the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans.

"I like the kid," one division rival said of Flacco. "He's poised."

But in the process of doing the survey, it also became apparent that some are still taking a wait-and-see approach with Flacco as he enters his second season.

"[The Ravens] didn't put Flacco in a lot of tough positions," one player said. "They protected him."

Also, when it came to deciding between Flacco and Palmer there seemed to be a divide between veterans and younger players, who appeared to base their opinions more on last season as opposed to Palmer's overall career.

Palmer suffered two major injuries (knee, elbow) in the past four seasons and started only four games in 2008.

"These young guys haven't seen Palmer when he's healthy," said one veteran, shaking his head.

Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn also received one vote apiece, which means every team was represented in this category. Quinn and Anderson both saw playing time in 2008 and are competing for the starting job this season.

But perhaps the most telling aspect of this survey question was that Roethlisberger more than doubled the tally of the second-place quarterback.

A year or two ago, Roethlisberger versus Palmer may have been a valid debate. But Roethlisberger's adding another Super Bowl victory to his resume in February clearly put him over the top, according to his AFC North peers.

Best QB in AFC North
Player Team Votes
1. Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers 18
2. Carson Palmer Cincinnati Bengals 7
3. Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens 5
4. (tie) Derek Anderson Cleveland Browns 1
Brady Quinn Cleveland Browns 1

NOTE: Players could not vote for themselves or teammates.



Toughest Player: James Harrison

There are a lot of tough opponents in the AFC North, as evident by the 11 different players who received votes. But in the end, Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers beat out Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in a very close tally.

The reigning defensive player of the year received 10 of 32 votes while Lewis, a future Hall of Famer, was second with eight votes. The two linebackers combined for more than half (56 percent) of the total tally.

"Harrison's tough," one player said. "People forget he is a beast on special teams too."

Said another rival, "He's nasty to deal with for four quarters."

Meanwhile, an interesting subplot developed while surveying the division on the toughest player: It became clear what player was the most disliked in the AFC North.

At least one person each in the locker rooms of the Browns, Bengals and Ravens considered voting for Steelers receiver Hines Ward in this category. But they couldn't bring themselves to do it, mostly because they disagreed with the way Ward plays the game.

"I really don't want to vote for Hines," said one rival, who voted for someone else. "But he's definitely a tough player."

In the end, Ward finished tied for third with three votes.

Players from three of the four AFC North teams received votes, including Baltimore defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs (3), Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs (1) and defensive end Aaron Smith (2) of the Steelers. No one from the Cincinnati Bengals was selected for toughest player in the division by their peers.

Toughest Player in AFC North
Player/Position Team Votes
1. James Harrison, OLB Pittsburgh Steelers 10
2. Ray Lewis, ILB Baltimore Ravens 8
3. (Tie) Hines Ward, WR Pittsburgh Steelers 3
Terrell Suggs, LB Baltimore Ravens 3
5. Aaron Smith, DE Pittsburgh Steelers 2
6. (Tie) Joshua Cribbs, WR/KR Cleveland Browns 1
Jamal Lewis, RB Cleveland Browns 1
Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh Steelers 1
LaMarr Woodley, OLB Pittsburgh Steelers 1
Derrick Mason, WR Baltimore Ravens 1
Haloti Ngata, DL Baltimore Ravens 1

NOTE: Players could not vote for themselves or teammates.

flippy
07-15-2009, 01:12 PM
I woulda voted Ben toughest player too.

Iron Shiek
07-15-2009, 01:20 PM
Haha...Suggs and Hines tied. A WR shouldn't be in this category with LB and big uglies...but there you go. Ward is the man.

RuthlessBurgher
07-15-2009, 01:54 PM
Other AFC North Player Surveys by ESPN.com blogger James Walker:

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-3-119/Player-survey--Smartest-and-best-all-around.html


Player survey: Smartest and best all-around

July 1, 2009 11:30 AM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Both are versatile safeties.

The two also are perennial Pro Bowlers and unique talents.

And according to their peers, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best all-around player and smartest player, respectively, in the division.

During the offseason, ESPN.com's AFC North blog surveyed 32 players and granted them anonymity -- eight from each team in the division -- on topics that will be revealed periodically during July. The players surveyed could not vote for themselves or their teammates.

This week we take a look at Reed, who was voted best all-around player, and Polamalu, who was selected the division's smartest player. As evidence of their dominance, both safeties finished second in the other category too.

Best All-Around Player: Ed Reed

When it came to choosing the top all-around player in the AFC North, Reed and Polamalu accounted for 21 votes -- more than two-thirds of the 32 players surveyed.

But Reed (14) still received twice as many votes as Polamalu (7), who was tied with teammate James Harrison (7) for second place in this category.

"I feel he's just a great player," one opponent said of voting for Reed. "You have to be aware of him at all times."

Reed received multiple votes from players of the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Steelers.

Most AFC North players agreed on the top three of Reed, Polamalu and Harrison -- who accounted for 87.5 percent of the total tally. But what slightly separated Reed in the eyes of opponents was that he's made more spectacular plays for a longer period than his Pittsburgh counterparts.

"The guy is just good," one rival player said. "And he probably still doesn't get the credit he deserves."

Other players to receive votes included Pro Bowl linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens and a trio of Browns -- defensive lineman Shaun Rogers, safety Brodney Pool and return specialist Joshua Cribbs. Quarterbacks were left out of this category, because it overlapped with another portion of our survey, which examines the top quarterback in the AFC North. That answer will be addressed later in the month.

Best All-Around Player in AFC North
As voted by 32 anonymous players in the division:
Player Position Team Votes
1. Ed Reed Safety Ravens 14
Tie 2. Troy Polamalu Safety Steelers 7
James Harrison Linebacker Steelers 7
Tie 4. Terrell Suggs LB/DE Ravens 1
Shaun Rogers Nose tackle Browns 1
Joshua Cribbs WR/Returner Browns 1
Brodney Pool Safety Browns 1

Note: Players surveyed could not vote for themselves or teammates.



Smartest Player: Troy Polamalu

The smartest player in the AFC North was one of the closest votes in the entire player survey. Polamalu edged Reed, 14-11, and the pair combined for an amazing 78 percent of the total vote.

Many players paused and thought long and hard before deciding between the two safeties.

"Smartest player? I have to go with Troy," one opponent said. "But it's close."

Reed and Polamalu are arguably the top defensive playmakers in the NFL. Their smarts, instincts and immense film study allow coaches to provide certain freedoms not awarded to most defensive players, and they use it to their advantage. Reed and Polamalu combined for 16 interceptions in 2008.

Players who were surveyed seemed to have trouble deciding whether to vote for the player who positioned himself to make the most routine plays (Polamalu) or the player who takes the most risks in exchange for the spectacular plays (Reed).

In the end, a majority of players went with Polamalu by a narrow margin.

"Troy is never out of position," one player said of the difference between Polamalu and Reed.

Only two other players received votes for smartest player in the AFC North: Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis (5) and Steelers receiver Hines Ward (2).

One veteran rival felt particularly strong about his endorsement of Lewis.

"It's hands down," the player said. "Watch him. Ray is flowing to the football before the play develops."

With Pittsburgh's Polamalu and Ward and Baltimore's Reed and Lewis, this was the only survey question in which the results involved players from just two AFC North teams. Next week, the AFC North blog will reveal the survey results for this year's breakout player in the division.

Smartest Player in AFC North
As voted by 32 anonymous players in the division:
Player Position Team Votes
1. Troy Polamalu Safety Steelers 14
2. Ed Reed Safety Ravens 11
3. Ray Lewis Linebacker Ravens 5
4. Hines Ward Receiver Steelers 2

Note: Players surveyed could not vote for themselves or teammates.


http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-3-137/Player-survey--Breakout-player.html


Player survey: Breakout player

July 7, 2009 11:00 AM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

In a division filled with quality defenses, it was only fitting that a young, up-and-coming linebacker caught the most attention of his AFC North peers.

In the closest vote of the entire player survey, Cincinnati Bengals second-year linebacker Keith Rivers edged linebacker Lawrence Timmons of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn by one vote to become the 2009 pick for breakout player.

This offseason, ESPN.com granted anonymity to 32 players -- eight from each AFC North team -- on select topics that will be revealed throughout July. The players surveyed could not vote for themselves or their teammates.

Rivers led an extremely diverse group of breakout players with six votes, while Timmons and Quinn received five votes apiece. An astounding 14 different players were selected, which was the most of any survey question. They ranged from all different positions such as receivers linebackers, tailback, and even a fullback (Carey Davis of Pittsburgh).

But in the end, Rivers stood atop the list.

"It means a lot," Rivers told ESPN.com after learning of the results recently in Bengals minicamp. "I think it means players felt I was doing well, even though it was only through seven games. It's great to know that I had an effect on the guys in this league that I play against, and I just hope to build on that."

So far, defensive players have dominated this year's AFC North survey. In addition to Rivers, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed and Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu were voted by opponents as the best all-around and smartest player in the division, respectively.

The definition of a breakout player can vary. So ESPN.com did not preclude anyone from being chosen for this particular category. For instance, if a player surveyed thought Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be considered a breakout player, despite two Super Bowl victories, he went on the list.

This explains several votes for players such as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who broke through last year in leading his team to the AFC title game, or Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes, who was the Super Bowl XLIII MVP in February. But minus those two exceptions, AFC North players were pretty unified across the board on what they considered a breakthrough season.

In 2008, Rivers broke his jaw in the seventh game, which ended his first NFL season. At the time of his injury, Rivers was a candidate for defensive rookie of the year honors and finished with 37 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.

Rivers got to play every team in the division once last season, which was enough to earn the respect of his peers.

"He's solid," said one rival player who voted for Rivers. "I think this could be a good year for him."

Other notable players who received multiple votes included another young linebacker in Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson (2), who led the NFL in tackles last season, and a pair of receivers in Brian Robiskie (3) and Chris Henry (2).

Said one future opponent of the rookie Robiskie: "He's a polished receiver and his dad [Terry] being a coach will help his learning process."

Another AFC North player had an even bigger projection for Henry.

"I bet he gets 1,000 yards this year," the player said confidently.

"It's great because I think it brings more competition to our division," Rivers said. "I think this is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and with the continued young, great players that we're getting in this division it makes it that much better."

AFC North Breakout Player
As voted by 32 anonymous players in the division:
Player Pos. Team Votes
1. Keith Rivers LB Bengals 6
(Tie) 2. Lawrence Timmons LB Steelers 5
Brady Quinn QB Browns 5
4. Brian Robiskie WR Browns 3
(Tie) 5. D'Qwell Jackson LB Browns 2
Chris Henry WR Bengals 2
Joe Flacco QB Ravens 2
(tie) 8. Cedric Benson RB Bengals 1
Limas Sweed WR Steelers 1
Eric Wright CB Browns 1
Rey Maualuga LB Bengals 1
Carey Davis FB Steelers 1
Santonio Holmes WR Steelers 1
Syndric Steptoe WR Browns 1

* Note: Players surveyed could not vote for themselves or teammates.

I wanna know who was the one prankster on the Ravens, Browns, or Bengals who voted Carey Davis as the breakout player. That's comedy gold right there.

http://anandvrao.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/bania2.jpg

That's Gold, Jerry! GOLD!!! :lol:

Jigawatts
07-15-2009, 02:25 PM
Keith Rivers is going to be hungry this season...

someone else can finish this joke. :lol:

fordfixer
07-15-2009, 03:35 PM
Keith Rivers is going to be hungry this season...

someone else can finish this joke. :lol:


You mean for solid food?

Jom112
07-15-2009, 06:07 PM
I woulda voted Ben toughest player too.

I would have voted for Haloti Ngata. That is one big boy...

stlrz d
07-15-2009, 06:39 PM
I woulda voted Ben toughest player too.

I would have voted for Haloti Ngata. That is one big boy...

Big doesn't automatically = toughest.

Jom112
07-15-2009, 06:54 PM
I woulda voted Ben toughest player too.

I would have voted for Haloti Ngata. That is one big boy...

Big doesn't automatically = toughest.

Agreed, but he is a very tough player to defend. I wouldn't fault anyone for saying it's James Harrison, but I think an argument can be made for Ngata...

stlrz d
07-15-2009, 07:43 PM
I think the question was "toughest player" and not "toughest player to defend".

Ozey74
07-15-2009, 08:11 PM
Big Ben as the #1 QB is a no brainer & shouldn't surprise anyone. It's like voting Blair Warner the hottest chick on the Facts of Life. DUH!!

Carson Palmer would be Jo
Flacco would be Tootie
and Anderson would be Natalie.

:tt2

Jom112
07-15-2009, 09:14 PM
I think the question was "toughest player" and not "toughest player to defend".

Well if Harrison and Ngata got into a fight, I got my money on Ngata.

Harrison might be better pound for pound, but this is asking toughest overall not for their size. It's like MMA. Anderson Silva might be one bad arse fighter but if he steps into the octagon against Fedor, he would get destroyed...

stlrz d
07-15-2009, 09:28 PM
Ozey - I liked Jo better, so in my world Ben is Jo...using your analogy anyway. :D

Jom - Glad you'd take Ngata in a fight...which has zero to do with NFL toughness.

Besides, how many times does a smaller, quicker guy beat a larger guy? I've seen it happen plenty! :lol:

Jom112
07-15-2009, 09:33 PM
Ozey - I liked Jo better, so in my world Ben is Jo...using your analogy anyway. :D

Jom - Glad you'd take Ngata in a fight...which has zero to do with NFL toughness.

Besides, how many times does a smaller, quicker guy beat a larger guy? I've seen it happen plenty! :lol:

Oh I see what your doing.

Well what is your definition of "toughest", and why would you pick Harrison over Ngata?

RuthlessBurgher
07-15-2009, 09:48 PM
Ozey - I liked Jo better, so in my world Ben is Jo...using your analogy anyway. :D

Agreed. In my mind, Blair is to Ginger as Jo is to Mary Ann. I've always been a Mary Ann kind of guy. :)

NKySteeler
07-15-2009, 10:04 PM
why would you pick Harrison over Ngata?

Because Harrison is just a scary bad-as* mo-fo.... While Ngata is also a tough individual, he doesn't pose the threat of physically eating the opponent for breakfast... :lol:

... Granted, both are intimidating individuals, but Harrison has made a name for himself this past season as the biggest dog on the street... Ngata has not, as of yet... At least not to the extent that Harrison has done. Until he does, I really don't think there is any question as to who it should be.

Maybe next year this discussion can be re-visited, but until then, Harrison has the honors IMHO.

RuthlessBurgher
07-15-2009, 10:21 PM
I really like Ngata as a player. If I could poach one player from another team's defense, it would probably be him (if I could poach one player from another team's offense, it would likely be a young stud OT like Jake Long, Ryan Clady, or Joe Thomas, although an awesome wideout like Larry Fitz or Calvin Johnson would be tempting).

Even though I am a huge fan of what Ngata can do (a guy that big and strong should not be able to move as quickly as he does), that does not necessarily make him tough. Tough is hard to quantify. You just know it when you see it. Lambert, Lloyd, Harrison...tough.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
07-15-2009, 11:41 PM
Big Ben as the #1 QB is a no brainer & shouldn't surprise anyone. It's like voting Blair Warner the hottest chick on the Facts of Life. DUH!!

Carson Palmer would be Jo
Flacco would be Tootie
and Anderson would be Natalie.

:tt2

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

And Brady Quinn as Mrs. Garrett

stlrz d
07-16-2009, 06:35 AM
I really like Ngata as a player. If I could poach one player from another team's defense, it would probably be him (if I could poach one player from another team's offense, it would likely be a young stud OT like Jake Long, Ryan Clady, or Joe Thomas, although an awesome wideout like Larry Fitz or Calvin Johnson would be tempting).

Even though I am a huge fan of what Ngata can do (a guy that big and strong should not be able to move as quickly as he does), that does not necessarily make him tough. Tough is hard to quantify. You just know it when you see it. Lambert, Lloyd, Harrison...tough.

Thanks for the assist. Harrison, like Lloyd, wasn't hired for his disposition. He just comes across as a mean em effer and if his peers (from opposing teams) are voting him toughest even ahead of ray ray that says a lot to me...it tells me that what I think I'm seeing on the screen when watching the Steelers is true...he's a mean bastard!

[youtube:jd7kuxjj]<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/T9aIuGjAVF4&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/T9aIuGjAVF4&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/youtube:jd7kuxjj]

Ozey74
07-16-2009, 07:26 AM
Big Ben as the #1 QB is a no brainer & shouldn't surprise anyone. It's like voting Blair Warner the hottest chick on the Facts of Life. DUH!!

Carson Palmer would be Jo
Flacco would be Tootie
and Anderson would be Natalie.

:tt2

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

And Brady Quinn as Mrs. Garrett

Ha! Or the repair dude George (played by George Clooney)

http://a.getbackimages.com/uri/w514_h676_cfalse_K0516022552/mindy-cohn-and-george-clooney-on-the-facts-of-life-/image/4/0/5/9/4059264.jpg