Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sports Central’s 2015 NFL All-Pro Team

By Brad Oremland

With the 2015 regular season over, it's time to honor this season's most outstanding players. This column exists to explain the reasons I chose certain players, or didn't take others, and to give recognition to those who just missed the cut. If all you care about is who made the team, skip to the end and you'll find a list.

We name 12 players on offense and 13 on defense. Instead of a fullback, we name a third wide receiver and second tight end. On defense, we list three cornerbacks (everyone needs a good nickel back) and two each of defensive tackles and inside linebackers (accommodating both the 3-4 and 4-3). Our choices are listed in order, so you'll know which receiver is third, which tight end is second, and so on.

Please note that when I mention a defender's tackles, I am referring to solo tackles. It is the official position of this column that "assists" are baloney.

Quarterback: Cam Newton (CAR)
Last Year: Aaron Rodgers (GB)

There were four obvious candidates: Tom Brady (NE), Carson Palmer (ARI), Russell Wilson (SEA), and Newton. The Associated Press voters like to split up awards, using Offensive Player of the Year in particular as a consolation prize for not winning MVP. I'll be interested to see if three different QBs win all-pro quarterback, OPOY, and MVP.

The argument for Brady is two-fold: he was the engine for his team's offense, and he committed the fewest turnovers. Brady attempted 624 passes this season, compared to 537 for Palmer, and under 500 for Newton and Wilson. The other teams had effective run games, but New England's offense went through Brady, or not at all. And on a team with a good defense, there's a lot to be said for making smart plays and not turning the ball over.

The argument for Palmer is efficiency: his average yardage was by far the highest in the group, almost a yard ahead of Wilson, and more than a yard ahead of Brady and Newton. Palmer led the NFL in first downs, first down percentage, and yards per completion. He ranked 4th in the NFL in passing yards despite attempting about 100 fewer passes than the players ahead of him.

The argument for Wilson is the total package. He led the NFL in passer rating, and he rushed for 553 yards. Wilson ranked second among these four in average yardage and fewest turnovers, and he played his best football at the end of the season.

Those are all good arguments; any of the four would be a fine choice. I picked Newton largely on the eye test. I can make a statistical argument for him, beginning with his league-leading 45 TDs (35 pass, 10 rush) and the best touchdown-to-turnover differential in the group, +31. Working with an undistinguished group of receivers, Cam made plays you have no business making in the NFL, like the ghost of Randall Cunningham, or maybe Steve Young if he didn't have Jerry Rice. Brady, Palmer, and Wilson pass the eye test, too, of course — they're incredible — but Newton was the one who consistently amazed me, the one who seemed like he was playing at a different level than his opponents.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson (MIN)
Last Year: Le'Veon Bell (PIT)

This was the weakest year for top RBs since the early 1970s. Offenses revolve around passing now, most of the good running teams utilize their quarterbacks as well as RBs, and committees have become popular to reduce wear-and-tear on franchise ball-carriers.

Peterson led all running backs in rushing yards (1,485) and yards from scrimmage (1,707). The last time no one rushed for 1,500 yards was 2007, Peterson's rookie year — but LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 1,474 and scored 18 touchdowns, while Brian Westbrook gained 2,104 YFS. Before that, you have to go back to 1993. The last time no RB gained 1,750 YFS was the strike-shortened 1987 season; it had never happened in a 16-game season. In fact, this was only the second time this century that no RB gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

Peterson scored 11 TDs and fumbled 7 times. He averaged 4.54 yards per carry, which is very good, but not spectacular. Yet Peterson is the best choice. Doug Martin (TB), 2nd in both rushing and YFS, scored 7 TDs and lost 5 fumbles. Devonta Freeman (ATL) ranked 7th in rushing yards and averaged 4.02 yards per carry. Todd Gurley only had 1,294 YFS. It's an uninspiring year for this position, and I worry about its future.

Fullback: N/A
Last Year: Kyle Juszczyk (BAL)

There is no team in the NFL on which this is still an important position. It's gotten to where choosing the most deserving fullback is largely a matter of playing time. I want to select all-pros based on ability, not scheme or style of play. If I had to take a fullback, it might be Patrick DiMarco (ATL).

Wide Receiver: Julio Jones (ATL), Antonio Brown (PIT), DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
Last Year: Antonio Brown (PIT), Demaryius Thomas (DEN), Julio Jones (ATL)

Jones and Brown had historic seasons, the 2nd-highest and 4th-highest receiving yardage totals in NFL history. Both caught 136 passes, 2nd all-time, and they were the league leaders in first down receptions.

Hopkins edged Brandon Marshall (NYJ) and Odell Beckham (NYG) for the final spot. Marshall led the NFL in 100-yard receiving games (10), he's a good blocker, and he made critical plays for the Jets all season, three fumbles notwithstanding. Beckham's missed game due to suspension cost him a shot at topping Hopkins and Marshall, both of whom had over 100 receptions and over 1,500 yards, while Beckham was below both marks.

I chose Hopkins over Marshall, in a razor-close call, because he produced with four different quarterbacks: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. Hopkins had more catches, more yards, and more TDs than his next three teammates combined. I wouldn't argue with Brandon Marshall, but that's why I picked Hopkins.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski (NE), Greg Olsen (CAR)
Last Year: Rob Gronkowski (NE), Greg Olsen (CAR)

Obvious selections. Gronk and Olsen had the most receiving yards of any tight end, they're both good blockers, and both were the leading receiver on high-scoring playoff teams.

Delanie Walker (TEN) and Jordan Reed (WAS) can't block, and Gary Barnidge (CLE) just came up a little short of Gronkowski and Olsen. Reed is a phenomenal receiving talent, though; and if he can stay healthy and improve his blocking, he'll be an all-pro. He might be the best pure receiving TE in the NFL.

Center: Ryan Kalil (CAR)
Last Year: Nick Mangold (NYJ)

Kalil had his best season, topping Weston Richburg (NYG) and Travis Frederick (DAL) for this position. The Panthers were one of the few teams to both run and pass effectively in 2015; so many linemen now are deficient at either run-blocking or pass-blocking, but Kalil excelled at both, and his career season was a clear factor in Carolina's success.

Guard: Marshal Yanda (BAL), Richie Incognito (BUF)
Last Year: Josh Sitton (GB), Marshal Yanda (BAL)

I don't like Richie Incognito, either, but he had a great year. He also had a quiet season, with headlines limited to his play on the field. And on a roster with IK Enemkpali, he's not even the worst guy on his own team.

Even though I chose Yanda last year, I've written more than once about my lack of enthusiasm for him. That changed this year; Yanda had his best season. He's always been solid, but in 2015, he was exceptional. He handles defensive tackles one-on-one, and he's good about getting to the second level in the run game.

Offensive Tackle: Tyron Smith (DAL), Kyle Long (CHI)
Last Year: Jason Peters (PHI), Joe Thomas (CLE)

I'm really dissatisfied with the level of offensive tackle play in the NFL right now. Defenses are so hard to read and predict, I get that the job is extremely difficult. The players deal with stunts and blitzes from who-knows-where, and it's hard to make adjustments, switching with a guard to take the right man. But there's just no one who seemed to have an all-pro quality season in 2015. I choose Smith and Long — a converted guard who is much better at run-blocking than pass protection — with little enthusiasm. Andrew Whitworth (CIN), who pulls more than any tackle in the league, might be my third choice.

Defensive Tackle: Aaron Donald (STL), Geno Atkins (CIN)
Last Year: Ndamukong Suh (DET), Aaron Donald (STL)

Donald is a demon, sent from another universe to terrorize offenses. There were only three candidates here: Donald, Atkins, and Kawann Short (CAR). No other DT was close to their level this season. All three had 11 sacks, with no one else in double-digits. All three had at least 16 tackles for loss, with Suh the only other DT over 11. Short had 4 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. I wouldn't argue with someone who prefers him to Atkins, but I think Atkins was a little more consistent, and he drew double-teams from the beginning of the season, freeing up opportunities for his teammates.

Defensive End: J.J. Watt (HOU), Fletcher Cox (PHI)
Last Year: J.J. Watt (HOU), Calais Campbell (ARI)

J.J. Watt led all defensive linemen in tackles (57), tackles for loss (29), sacks (17.5), and pass deflections (8). Watt and Buffalo's Jerry Hughes were the only defensive linemen to play at least 1,000 snaps this season.

Cox is a five-technique defensive end. He tallied 50 tackles, which is sensational from that position, and the most of any defensive lineman outside of Watt. Cox also had 9.5 sacks, with 3 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries. Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ) had a great season, as well, and probably would have been my third choice. Among 4-3 DEs, I suppose Ziggy Ansah (DET) would be my favorite.

Outside Linebacker: Khalil Mack (OAK), Thomas Davis (CAR)
Last Year: DeAndre Levy (DET), Justin Houston (KC)

Four candidates — Mack, Davis, Lavonte David (TB), and Telvin Smith (JAC) — two spots. This category really encompasses two distinct positions: pass rushers and space players. Most 3-4 OLBs are pass-rush specialists, comparable to defensive ends. Most 4-3 OLBs have a wider set of responsibilities, comparable to those of inside linebackers. In selecting an all-pro team, I generally look for one of each.

Mack, a hybrid DE-OLB, was obvious as the pass rusher. He trailed only J.J. Watt in sacks (15) and TFL (23), with 57 tackles, a lot for a pass rusher. Among players with double-digit sacks, Watt, Mack, and Melvin Ingram were the only ones with 50 solo tackles. In fact, those three and Aaron Donald were the only players with 40 solo tackles and 10 or more sacks. And Mack was far ahead of the pack with impact plays behind the line of scrimmage; among LBs, Whitney Mercilus was next in sacks (12) and Jerry Attaochu in TFL (15).

Davis just barely topped David and Smith for the other position. David is the best in coverage; he had 3 INTs and 13 PDs, easily the most of any LB in 2015. David also made a ton of tackles (85), 10 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR, and he scored a touchdown. Smith had 99 tackles, 13 TFL, 2.5 sacks, a pick, 2 FF, and TD.

Davis has stats in the same neighborhood, with an emphasis on impact plays: 75 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 INT, 4 FF, FR. On a team with Luke Kuechly, the Panthers don't need Davis to make 100 tackles, but those big plays swing close games, and Davis stepped up while Kuechly was out of the lineup with an injury. With Kuechly on the field, Davis averaged 4.3 solo tackles per game; minus Kuechly, Davis made 6.3 tackles per game.

Inside Linebacker: Luke Kuechly (CAR), Derrick Johnson (KC)
Last Year: Luke Kuechly (CAR), Bobby Wagner (SEA)

Kuechly missed three games with a concussion, but this was his finest season as a pro. He led the Panthers in tackles and had a career-high five takeaways (4 INT, 1 FR), including an interception return for a touchdown in Week 12. Johnson was a close call over D'Qwell Jackson (IND), Lawrence Timmons (PIT), and Wagner. Johnson's 95 tackles ranked 7th in the NFL, 2nd among ILBs (NaVorro Bowman, 116). Johnson also had 4 sacks, 2 FF, 2 INT, and 8 more PD.

Cornerback: Josh Norman (CAR), Patrick Peterson (ARI), Aqib Talib (DEN)
Last Year: Richard Sherman (SEA), Darrelle Revis (NE), Vontae Davis (IND)

Norman had a brilliant season. Usually, the best corners are either shutdown CBs who take away a top receiver, or ballhawks who give up some plays but lead the league in interceptions. Norman is a devastating shutdown corner and a play-making ballhawk. He had 18 PDs, 4 INT, 3 FF, 2 FR, 122 return yards, and 2 TDs, plus he can tackle.

Peterson is more of the shutdown cornerback. His stats are modest, but no one wanted to throw at him. Talib was a coin flip over his teammate Chris Harris (DEN). Harris is the more solid of the two, safer in coverage and the better tackler. He makes more plays near the line of scrimmage. But Denver had such a devastating big-play defense this year, and no one embodied that like Talib. He intercepted 3 passes and returned them for 123 yards and 2 TDs, plus he blocked an extra point in Week 3.

Free Safety: Tyrann Mathieu (ARI)
Last Year: Harrison Smith (MIN)

Mathieu played both cornerback and safety in 2015, and he missed the last two games with a torn ACL. But he played at a tremendous level this season, making plays all over the field. He made 80 tackles, 11 TFL, a sack, a forced fumble ... he also defensed 17 passes, with 5 INTs, 92 return yards, and a touchdown. This is his second major injury in three years, but if he can stay healthy, Mathieu is a dominant player.

Reggie Nelson (CIN) led the NFL in takeaways, with 8 INT, 2 FR, and 140 return yards. Malcolm Jenkins (PHI) made a lot of plays this season: 90 tackles, 9 TFL, and 3 takeaways, including a 99-yard INT return for a touchdown against Tom Brady.

Strong Safety: Reshad Jones (MIA)
Last Year: Antoine Bethea (SF)

Charles Woodson (OAK) will probably win this on sentiment, but that's the wrong call. Woodson had a great year, including 5 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries. But Jones had much more impact: he led the league in tackles, with almost twice as many (106) as Woodson (59). Jones made 9 TFL, compared to zero for Woodson. He had 2 sacks, Woodson none. Jones intercepted 5 passes, same as Woodson, he had a fumble recovery, and he gained 113 return yards to Woodson's 58, plus Jones scored a TD.

Simply as a point of interest, I have voted for 16 different safeties in the last eight seasons, with no repeats. What happened to the Ed Reeds and Troy Polamalus? If Mathieu can stay healthy, he could be a perennial all-pro, but that health question is looking iffy.

Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
Last Year: Matt Bryant (ATL)

Gostkowski ended the year cooler than he began, and he was still an easy choice. He made 33 field goals, tied for 2nd-most, and everyone else in that neighborhood had a lot more misses. It's not just that Gostkowski made a lot of kicks, he made tough kicks. Gostkowski led the league in field goals of 40+ yards (16), with a long of 57. He was perfect on extra points, he was great on kickoffs, and he even went 2/2 on onside kick attempts, the only kicker in the league with two successful onside kicks this season.

Punter: Marquette King (OAK)
Last Year: Pat McAfee (IND)

A rough Week 17, including a block, almost moved King behind Johnny Hekker (STL). Hekker had a better net average, but King plays in a tougher stadium, he was better at pinning opponents inside the 10 (17 I-10, 4 TB), and he was excellent at limiting returns. Chris Jones (DAL) and Sam Koch (BAL) were my other finalists.

Return Specialist: Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN)
Last Year: De'Anthony Thomas (KC)

Three finalists: Patterson, the best kickoff returner, Darren Sproles (PHI), the best punt returner, and Dwayne Harris (NYG), who excelled at both. Tyler Lockett (SEA) scored as both a kickoff and punt returner, but so did Harris, who had better averages and many fewer fair catches. Patterson and Lockett returned the same number of kickoffs, 32 and 33 respectively, but Patterson produced 167 more yards and an additional touchdown. Compared to the league average of 23.56, Patterson gave the Vikings 265 extra yards.

Sproles, who only returns punts (he had 1 KR for 20 yards), added 124 yards beyond the average of 8.5. Harris added 113 yards of value on KRs and 53 yards on PRs, for a total of 166. All three scored two return TDs: Patterson on kickoffs, Sproles on punts, and Harris on one of each. Here, let's do a chart:

Chart

Patterson returned 12 kickoffs from five or more yards deep in the end zone, which drives me crazy, but he made it back to the 20-yard line on nine of them, and he was so exceptional on his other returns, I'm willing to look past it.

Special Teamer: Matthew Slater (NE)
Last Year: Matthew Slater (NE)

I'd hate for anyone to think I choose Slater every year out of laziness. I choose him because he's the best. Justin Bethel (ARI) is really close, though.

Cedric Peerman (CIN) and Darrell Stuckey (SD) are in the next tier, and Cody Davis (STL) also had a nice year. A special honorable mention for Denico Autry (OAK), who blocked three kicks in 2015.

Nine players repeat from my 2014 All-Pro team: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Marshal Yanda, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Luke Kuechly, and Matt Slater.

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones (ATL)
Last Year: Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Jones and Antonio Brown (PIT) were the only contenders. I know a lot of people will want to give this to Carson Palmer (ARI) or Russell Wilson (SEA), as a consolation prize for not winning MVP. But the great QBs didn't have historically significant seasons. Below, you'll find basic stats from my recent all-pro QBs, plus this year's four MVP contenders. Yardage is net yardage, including rushing; TDs include rushing TDs; TOs are turnovers: interceptions, lost fumbles, and safeties; and NY/A is net yards per attempt, which includes sacks.

Chart

This year's players have less yardage, worst TD-TO differentials, lower passer ratings, and other than Palmer, lower NY/A. They had great seasons, but not historically exceptional seasons. Jones and Brown were historically exceptional, approaching records for receptions, yardage, and first downs. Jones got the nod because he had more yards and more first downs than Brown, and he was more consistent.

Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt (HOU)
Last Year: J.J. Watt (HOU)

Aaron Donald (STL) and Josh Norman (CAR) had tremendous seasons, but Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL. No player has won back-to-back DPOY Awards since Lawrence Taylor in 1981-82, but Watt should be the second. A win would also tie Taylor for most DPOY honors in a career, 3. Watt is 26.

Special Teams Player of the Year: Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
Last Year: Matt Bryant (ATL)

Gostkowski was 45/45 on extra points, led the league in long (40+) field goals, and he was terrific on kickoffs, including onside kicks. I don't officially name a Special Teams Rookie of the Year, but if I did, I'd pick Tyler Lockett (SEA) or Jordan Berry (PIT), the punter out of Eastern Kentucky (by way of Australia). Berry doesn't have impressive averages, but he was magnificent pinning opponents deep — 10 punts down inside the 10-yard line, including five inside the 5, with only 2 touchbacks — and he only allowed 19 returns all season, compared to 21 fair catches, 12 downed by the coverage team, 5 out of bounds, and 2 TBs.

Most Valuable Player: Cam Newton (CAR)
Last Year: J.J. Watt (HOU)

This was a five-way race among Watt and the top four quarterbacks: Tom Brady (NE), Carson Palmer (ARI), Russell Wilson (SEA), and Newton. Most people are only looking at the QBs, but there is absolutely zero chance that the Texans make the playoffs without Watt.

I laid out a lot of my reasoning about the quarterbacks at the beginning of this piece, but I will say that I'm not sure any of these teams make the playoffs without their quarterbacks. I think a lot of people are underselling Carson Palmer in particular. Remember what Arizona's offense looked like with and without Palmer last year? That said, Palmer was the only one of these quarterbacks working with a stacked group of receivers. The Patriots were decimated by injuries, expectations for Newton were low coming into the season because of his lack of weapons, and by the end of the season, Wilson had turned Doug Baldwin into a star. It's easier to stand out as the most valuable player when you're almost the only valuable player on your offense.

I think this is a really close race, without an obvious winner. I decided at the last moment that Newton has the slightest edge over Palmer.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley (STL)
Last Year: Odell Beckham (NYG)

Early in the season, wide receivers Amari Cooper (OAK) and Stefon Diggs (MIN) looked like they might be the front-runners for this award. Cooper did top 1,000 yards, and Diggs' emergence was critical opening up opportunities for the Viking offense, but by the end of the season, they weren't strong candidates for Rookie of the Year. No one seems to consider linemen for this title, but center Mitch Morse (KC) had a terrific rookie year.

Jameis Winston (TB) played well, and it's tough to get past quarterback hype, but my top two choices were Gurley (who won my vote easily, and whom I'll come back to in a moment) and David Johnson (ARI). Johnson began the year as a part-time player and kick returner. He didn't have double-digit carries in a game until Week 13. Yet Johnson finished the season with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, a 4.65 rushing average, a 27.2 KR average, and 13 TDs, most of any rookie: 8 rush, 4 rec, 1 KR.

Gurley, though, was the one rookie who looked like he might be the best player in the league at his position. Handicapped by the Rams' abysmal offense, Gurley nonetheless had five games of more than 125 rushing yards, one shy of Eric Dickerson's rookie record from 1983. Gurley ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing, averaged 4.83 yards per attempt, and scored 10 TDs, out of the Rams' 27 offensive touchdowns, despite missing three games with injuries.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters (KC)
Last Year: Aaron Donald (STL)

Peters tied for the NFL leads in interceptions (8) and passes defensed (26), with by far the most INT return yardage (280) and a pair of TDs. But linebacker Jordan Hicks (PHI) had this award absolutely sewn up if not for his season-ending pectoral injury in Week 9. In five starts, Hicks registered 37 tackles, a sack, 5 takeaways, and a touchdown. Projected to 16 games, that's 118 tackles (most in the NFL), 16 takeaways, and 3 defensive TDs. Even including Week 1, when Hicks barely played and didn't record any stats, he was on pace for 86 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 FF, 4 FR, and 2 TDs.

Another potential competitor for Peters, Kwon Alexander (TB), got suspended the final four games of the season. That left Peters to get the nod over fellow CB Ronald Darby (BUF). Darby is probably a little more solid than Peters: he gambles less, and he seems a little better at playing the run. Darby had 21 PD and 2 INTs. But Peters made so many big plays, he's the clear choice for DROY.

Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera (CAR)
Last Year: Bruce Arians (ARI)

It's so hard to separate on-field and off-field coaching. Sometimes the coaches who are best at managing players and developing gameplans are terrible at gameday decision-making. My COY candidates begin with the coaches behind the top QBs: Arians, Bill Belichick (NE), Pete Carroll (SEA), and Rivera. Arians' teams consistently overachieve, and he won the AP Award two of the previous three years. Belichick is the greatest coach of this generation, and he's always in the mix. I don't think Carroll has gotten enough credit for holding the Seahawks together. They lost a heart-breaking Super Bowl, lost their defensive coordinator, lost four of their first six games, lost Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch. Now they look like they might be the best team in the league. Rivera's team nearly went undefeated, when most preseason predictions saw Carolina around .500.

The other coaches who stood out for me this year were Marvin Lewis (CIN), Andy Reid (KC), and Mike Zimmer (MIN). I think Zimmer's success in Minnesota has been extraordinary. This team was 5-10-1 two years ago, improved to 7-9 without Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, and now they're 11-5, NFC North champs. Reid did a great job this season, but the Chiefs should not have started out 1-5, and he deserves as much blame for the slow start as he does credit for bringing the team back from it.

Rivera gets my vote for keeping the Panthers focused through a lot of media attention, not all of it positive, and some of it probably too positive. He got the most out of a group of players not seen as elite at the beginning of the year, and they finished the season as strong as they started it.

Assistant Coach of the Year: Mike Shula (CAR)
Last Year: Todd Haley (PIT)

Shula's defensive counterpart, Sean McDermott (CAR), also had a fine year. Carolina led the NFL in scoring, despite an offensive roster with few marquee names. Shula, who began as Cam Newton's quarterbacks coach before his promotion to offensive coordinator, has played a big role in turning around a team that was 1-15 the year before his arrival. I'm not crazy about choosing a head coach and assistant from the same team, but I'm not going to change my picks just to avoid it.

Wade Phillips (DEN) might have been my second choice; Denver ranked 16th in points allowed last year, and had the best defense in the league this season. Bob Sutton (KC) is another defensive coordinator I considered. In New England, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels gets most of the attention, but DC Matt Patricia (NE) is the one who really impresses me. The Patriots don't have a lot of great individual talent on their defense, but they got great results. It's hard to know how much is Patricia, and how much is Bill Belichick, though, and I think that hurts his recognition.

On offense, Haley, whom I chose last year, was a very strong candidate again. When Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, Pittsburgh's offense is amazing. Hue Jackson (CIN) got a bum deal in his one-year head coaching stint with the Raiders, and he's earned a new opportunity, turning Andy Dalton into an MVP candidate. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther (CIN) did a nice job, too. In his second year after replacing Zimmer, the Bengals allowed the 2nd-fewest points in the NFL.

The last time my Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year came from the same team was 2007: Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels of the 16-0 New England Patriots.

2015 All-Pro Team

QB Cam Newton, CAR
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
WR Julio Jones, ATL
WR Antonio Brown, PIT
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE
TE Greg Olsen, CAR
C Ryan Kalil, CAR
G Marshal Yanda, BAL
G Richie Incognito, BUF
OT Tyron Smith, DAL
OT Kyle Long, CHI

DT Aaron Donald, STL
DT Geno Atkins, CIN
DE J.J. Watt, HOU
DE Fletcher Cox, PHI
OLB Khalil Mack, OAK
OLB Thomas Davis, CAR
ILB Luke Kuechly, CAR
ILB Derrick Johnson, KC
CB Josh Norman, CAR
CB Patrick Peterson, ARI
CB Aqib Talib, DEN
FS Tyrann Mathieu, ARI
SS Reshad Jones, MIA

K Stephen Gostkowski, NE
P Marquette King, OAK
RS Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN
ST Matthew Slater, NE

Off POY — Julio Jones, ATL
Def POY — J.J. Watt, HOU
ST POY — Stephen Gostkowski, NE
MVP — Cam Newton, CAR
Off Rookie — Todd Gurley, STL
Def Rookie — Marcus Peters, KC
Coach — Ron Rivera, CAR
Assistant — Mike Shula, CAR

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