DE: Michael Strahan, N.Y. Giants,
DT: Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay/Oakland
DT: Kris Jenkins, Carolina/N.Y. Jets
DE: Jason Taylor, Miami/Washington
LB: Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay
LB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore
LB: Brian Urlacher, Chicago
CB: Champ Bailey, Washington/Denver
CB: Troy Vincent: Phil./Mia./Buff./Wash.
S: Ed Reed, Baltimore
S: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh
Now for the most part I do agree with this list. I agree Strahan belongs on there, and I love that Troy Vincent is on there, but the safety position is where I, and Iggles Blog, have a problem with the list.
Obviously I am talking about Brian Dawkins, and he absolutely belongs on the all decade team. Throughout ESPN's explanation of the list, Sando says that he made it a point to choose a player who has dominated throughout the entire decade. Polamalu only entered the league in 2003. That's a full 3 years that Brian Dawkins dominated the safety position before Polamalu was even drafted. I'll let Derek show you the stats:
That is, as they say, not even friggin close. Dawk destroys Polamalu across the board, in literally every single category.
Now wait, you're saying, let's be fair. Polamalu only came into the league in 2003. Surely it's not fair to compare his numbers to Dawkins', when Dawk played three more seasons?
Answer: It's the all-decade team, right? Not the 2003-2009 team? So shouldn't all stats through the decade count? After all, we're not doing anything crazy like including Dawk's ridiculous numbers from the 90s, just the ones from this decade.
But OK. Let's compare apples to apples. Here are their numbers starting with the 2003 season:
Much closer. Polamalu gets the edge in assists and INTs, Dawk has sacks, forced fumbles and passes defensed.
But check out that column at the left. Polamalu actually played an extra half season during this timeframe, since 2003 was the year when Dawk had the bad injury that limited him to only seven games.
Just out of curiosity, what happens when you compare the two players on a per-game basis during that time period:
Polamalu has the edge in assists and (just barely) in INTs. They tie tackles and Dawk wins solos, sacks, forced fumbles (hugely) and passes defensed. And this despite Dawk entering the twilight of his career and Polamalu being in his prime.
Beyond the stats, Polamalu has five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections (two first team). Just during the last decade, Dawk has six Pro Bowls and four first-team All-Pros.
Look, Troy Polamalu is a great player. He really is. I'm not trying to take anything away from him.
But Dawk has the acccolades, he's got the numbers and he's even got the edge if you just compare them game-to-game for as long as Polamalu's been in the league. (Which, again, is spurious, since we're talking about the all-decade team.)