Best Of AFC West … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It was a division that had just one team in the playoffs and just half of the group finished the season with more victories than defeats.

The teams of the AFC West were not overflowing with players having their best seasons in 2010. There were 10 players from the Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders and Broncos named to the Pro Bowl. Only the NFC West had fewer among the other seven divisions in the league.

While they may not have finished among the better performers in the ’10 season, there were plenty of good seasons put together by players in the AFC West. So, that’s why we’ve put together an All-AFC West team for the 2010 team.

About the selections, there are 12 defenders selected because of the use of the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses within the division. The offensive linemen were picked for the positions they play, rather than just the top five blockers.

At several positions there are honorable mention picks. These are players that just as easily could be on the All-AFC West first team.

Also at the end of the team rosters are selections for individual honors for players, coaches and executives.


All-AFC West Offense

Wide receiver – Brandon Lloyd, Denver and Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs. After years of bumming around the NFL with a number of different teams, Lloyd has caught fire with the Broncos and ended up as the league leader in receiving yards with 1,448 or 18.8 yard per catch. Bowe topped all receivers, division-conference-league, in TD catches with 15.

Tight end – Antonio Gates, San Diego. With no competition in the division anymore from Tony Gonzalez, Gates is the top of the class, finishing with 50 catches for 782 yards and 10 touchdowns. Honorable mention: Zach Miller, Oakland.

Left tackle – Marcus McNeill, San Diego. He missed the start of the season in a contract dispute with the Chargers and ended up playing 10 games. Once he was on the field, McNeill played well, giving up just 2.5 sacks.

Left guard – Robert Gallery, Oakland. This is the most competitive offensive line position in the division, with Gallery, Brian Waters and San Diego’s Kris Dielman. Gallery gets the slight nod over the other two. His move inside to guard from tackle several years ago has given him a chance to shine. Honorable mention: Kris Dielman, San Diego.

Center – Nick Hardwick, San Diego. He’s on the small side for NFL snappers, but Hardwick has been the leader of the Chargers offensive line since he was drafted out of Purdue. Honorable mention: Samson Satele, Oakland.

Right guard – Ryan Lilja, Chiefs. One of the best additions to the Chiefs roster in the off-season, Lilja allowed only 1.5 sacks and was flagged just four times on the season.

Right tackle – Ryan Harris, Denver. The position is not a strong one in the division, but Harris is the class of the group. He allowed three sacks on the season and was penalized just twice.

Quarterback – Philip Rivers, San Diego. If the Chargers ever figure out their problems in starting fast each season, Rivers will become a national star. He threw for a league high 4,710 yards, completing 66 percent of his passes with 30 TDs and 13 INTs. Honorable mention: Matt Cassel, Chiefs.

Running backs – Jamaal Charles, Chiefs & Darren McFadden, Oakland. These guys are easily the class of the division when it comes to the running back position. Charles finished second in rushing yards in the league with 1,467 yards. McFadden ran for 1,157 yards. Both also showed their skills as receivers, as each had three TD catches.

Fullback – Marcel Reece, Oakland. Undrafted in ’08 out of the University of Washington, Reece spent time with the Dolphins before he joined the Raiders last year. He ran 30 times for 122 yards and caught 23 passes for 333 yards, including a 73-yard TD catch.

Kicker – Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland. It seems like “SeaBass” has been kicking for the Raiders since the day George Blanda finally retired. He hit 33 of 41 FGs, but missed just one inside the 40-yard line. He was also four of seven from 50 yards and out. Janikowski remains one of the league’s best kickers.

Kick returner – Jacoby Ford, Oakland. The rookie WR made his mark with three kickoff return touchdowns, including one he returned against the Chiefs. Overall, he averaged 24.2 yards per 53 kickoff returns.

All-AFC West Defense

Defensive ends – Matt Shaughnessy, Oakland & Luis Castillo, San Diego. Shaughnessy finished his second season in the league and left his mark on opposing offenses. He had seven sacks on the season. Castillo played in a 3-4 defense and didn’t get to the passer as often, pulling down 2.5 sacks. But he was a stud against the running game.

Defensive tackles – Richard Seymour, Oakland & Antonio Garay, San Diego. In the Raiders 4-3 defense, Seymour contributed both inside and outside, with 5.5 sacks. He was at times a dominating force. Garay is not well-known out of San Diego, but had six sacks and was a big run stopper in the middle of the Chargers defense.

Outside linebackers – Tamba Hali, Chiefs & Shaun Phillips, San Diego. Hali led the AFC in sacks with 14.5. Phillips led the Chargers with 11 sacks. Hali-Phillips were easily the best pass rushers in the division. Honorable mention: Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland.

Inside linebackers – Derrick Johnson, Chiefs & Kevin Burnett, San Diego. Both of these guys were the biggest playmakers on their defenses and seldom left the field no matter what type of scheme was called. Burnett had two INTs, including one that he returned for a TD. Johnson had one INT and it went for a TD. Honorable mention: D.J. Williams, Denver.

Cornerbacks – Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland & Brandon Flowers, Chiefs. Asomugha is one of the league’s best cover corners and teams tend to stay away from him – he did not have an INT in ’10. Flowers had two INTs and combined that with 81 total tackles, it made him one of the most active corners in the league. Honorable mention: Brandon Carr, Chiefs; Stanford Routt, Oakland; Champ Bailey, Denver.

Safeties – Eric Weddle, San Diego & Eric Berry, Chiefs. The Chargers have struggled at safety for several seasons, but Weddle has stabilized the position in the last couple years. He had two INTs, including one he returned for a TD. Berry was not sensational as a rookie, but he was effective, with 126 total tackles, two sacks and four interceptions.

Punter – Shane Lechler, Oakland. Yeah, sometimes Lechler outkicks his coverage, but a 40.8-yard net average was pretty impressive. So was his gross average of 47 yards on 77 punts.

Punt returner – Eddie Royal, Denver. He was No. 6 in the league in punt return average, with 11.9 yards a return. Royal didn’t break any lengthy returns, as his longest was just 33 yards.


Offensive Player of the Year – Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles finished the season with 275 touches over the season, producing 1,935 yards and eight touchdowns. He was second in the league in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage.

Defensive Player of the Year – Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali led the AFC in sacks with 14.5, along with 19 quarterback pressures, plus he forced four fumbles.

Rookie of the Year – Oakland WR Jacoby Ford may be the most explosive offensive weapon the Raiders have drafted since Tim Brown. Ford touched the ball 88 times, producing 1,905 yards and seven TDs. On kickoff returns, he averaged 24.2 yards and scored three TDs.

Head Coach of the Year – Oakland’s Tom Cable gets the honors in a sympathy vote. By all rights, the honor should go to Todd Haley. But what Cable got done with the Raiders was actually more remarkable. To pull that team to an 8-8 record after starting 2-4 and going 6-0 inside the division would be a special year for any coach. But to do that in the atmosphere created by Al Davis is stunning. Naturally, he got fired.

Assistant Coach of the Year – Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel gets the distinction based on pulling the K.C. defense out of the NFL basement to the top half of the league teams. Crennel successfully used new players, working in concert with draft picks and a few other roster additions

Executive of the Year – Chiefs GM Scott Pioli/Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery – There’s no denying that among the four AFC West teams, the tone Pioli set in rebuilding the Chiefs has taken root. He shares the honor with Emery, the man who was in charge of college scouting for the 2010 NFL Draft. His presence can be seen in comparing the ’10 draft class that Emery helped set up against the ’09 draft class that was engineered by Pioli.


  • PRO BOWL – The NFL named Redskins LB Brian Orakpo to the NFC team as a replacement for either the Bears LB Lance Briggs or Packers LB Clay Matthews – either Briggs or Matthews will be in the Super Bowl; named Raiders TE Zach Miller to the AFC tesam as replacement for Chargers TE Antonio Gates; named Titans S Michael Griffin to the AFC team as a replacement for Ravens S Ed Reed
  • BROWNS – signed reserve/futures contracts with LB Auston English and WR Rod Windsor.
  • EAGLES – named Jim Washburn as defensive line coach – he had been working with the Titans for 12 years.
  • 49ERS – named Jim Leavitt as linebackers coach – he was formerly head coach at South Florida; named Geep Chryst as tight ends coach.
  • RAMS – announced that assistant head coach/QBs coach Dick Curl is retiring.
  • SEAHAWKS – offered Darren Bevell the offensive coordinator’s job.
  • VIKINGS – promoted Fred Pagac to defensive coordinator – he had been linebackers coach; hired Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator; hired Mike Priefer as special teams coach – Priefer spent the last two years in Denver, after three years with the Chiefs.

9 Responses to “Best Of AFC West … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 20, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Bob- I agreee with all of your selections. I would have given Brandon Albert honorable mention at left tackle.

  • January 20, 2011  - ed says:

    What Cable over Haley coach of the totally disagree. I mean goal is to win the division not just sweep the divison totally disagree Bob. Albert should been over McNeil he didn’t even play full 16 games.

  • January 20, 2011  - Nate says:

    Good article Bob! I had to smile because you took another shot at Scott Pioli. Not to take away anything from Phil Emery, however there was another factor which you never mention when you hack away at his first draft. the 1st one was done with just a couple of months to prepare while he was also getting the entire operation overhauled. I can relate to that because I am a retired CEO and I know what he had to accomplish in a short time period. The 2nd draft they had a full year to prepare for and the results speak for themselves. On draft day who do you think was making the decision on each player drafted, Pioli or Emery? We all know the answer to that question, Pioli.You could be a much better writer if you didn’t let your personal feelings get in your way. And I totally agree with Ed, Cable over Haley is a joke.

  • January 20, 2011  - el cid says:

    My,Nate, you are a CEO and can understand how Mr Pioli while unprepared because he “was also getting the entire operation overhauled”. Really. He came from a organization with a history of college drafting. He was 3X Exec of year, he had an idea of what to do, didn’t he? He decided we need help at DE and used 1st and 3rd to fill the need. They may not have worked out real well, yet, but he tried. He traded the 2nd to fill 2 needs, QB and OLB. But you apparently feel he was unprepared but acted anyway. How CEO like. Based on your theory, maybe he just pulled names out of a hat. Look, for a reason we will never know or understand what went on but if you are CEO you take the heat.

    Cable did a good job, but Haley led the Chiefs to the top, makes him the best in my opinion.

  • January 20, 2011  - Nate says:

    el cid since you want to do some more of your unfounded ranting; yes I am a retired CEO. I took three startup companies from zero to $3Billion in total revenue with more than 100,000 employees and distributors. You love to ignore the truth and vent your negative thoughts. I said and it is the truth that he had only a couple of months to prepare for the 1st draft and a full year to prepare for the second and the results speak for themselves.

  • January 21, 2011  - Michael says:

    Like your list, Bob. I would add Albert at Left Tackle, and give Glen Dorsey at least honorable mention at DE.

    Nate, for some people it goes like this: didn’t like the 2009 draft, so that one belongs to Pioli only; liked the 2010 draft better, so most of the credit goes to Emery. Doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever.

  • January 21, 2011  - el cid says:

    Did not think I was all that negative but ok. Michael I for waiting for time to tell about the 2010 draft, second round could discount “Emery’s” contribution. Is that negative? But I would like to believe most would agree that Berry is an improvement over Jackson, whoever gots the credit. Let’s also agree that this draft might need more Berry type over developemental types.

    As for you Nate, you are brilliant, I can read that. Not in that catagory, so good for you, consider buying the Royals, they could use the benefit of your money, advise, and vision.

  • January 21, 2011  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    We could have drafted Redskins LB Brian Orakpo (see above) instead of T. Jackson. In fact, I thought we were and the camera was on Orakpo before the selection announcement.

    Good list Bob. Keep up the great work and insight.

    Go CHIEFS!

  • January 22, 2011  - Merwin says:

    I believe the selections of McNeill and Gates are off base, since they were injured or in contract talks. I would have put other more deserving players up who worked all season. Also it may be too early to say, but I still think Pioli should have traded for Seymour with one of the two picks we used on DE last year. I guess Pioli thought he was too far at the end of his career to use such a high pick.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News