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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    In some respect, every team in the NFL is one injury away from having their fortunes altered in a drastic way. Here are the players I believe are the linchpins for each team:

    New England Patriots: Tom Brady
    Without their field general, the Patriots are a team with an above average defense and a decent, but not dominating, running game. A poor man's Chicago Bears, if you will.

    Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Brown
    Without Ricky Williams behind him, Brown is the Dolphins running game. Perhaps if Duante Culpepper gets healthy and returns to form the Dolphins won't have to rely as much on Brown, but right now, he's the offense.

    Buffalo Bills: Willis McGahee
    The running game is the key in Buffalo, and McGahee is the workhorse. Without him, the Bills would have to rely on J.P. Losman's passing. A scary thought.

    New York Jets: Jonathan Vilma
    Averages 10 tackles per game and is the leader of the defense. Particularly now, with John Abraham gone, the Jets could not afford to lose him.

    Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning
    Perhaps the most obvious selection of them all. He's the one who makes the Colts' offense go. When he's not on his game, the Colts lose.

    Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcus Stroud
    It all starts up front for the Jaguars. Stroud anchors the defense that is the team's strength.

    Tennessee Titans: Keith Bullock
    The leader of the defense is its only true playmaker.

    Houston Texans: Andre Johnson
    He's the only player on the roster that teams really fear. When he struggled last year, so did the team.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Hines Ward
    Particularly now, with Plaxico Burress and Antuan Randle-El gone, he's the guy that Ben Rothlisberger will depend on the most. He's also the veteran who leads the team by example.

    Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer
    Could not be more obvious after his injury in the playoffs spelled the Bengals' doom.

    Cleveland Browns: Ruben Droughns
    Became the team's workhorse last year and will continue to have that role, particularly if Bralon Edwards and Kellen Winslow continue to be hampered by injuries.

    Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Ogden
    Has anchored the O line for years, and is still one of the league's best.

    San Diego Chargers: Ladanian Tomlinson
    Particularly now, with untested Philip Rivers at the helm, LT's productivity is the key for the Chargers.

    Oakland Raiders: Randy Moss
    There are a lot of "names" on the Raiders, but he's the only player that strikes fear into opposing coaches.

    Denver Broncos: Champ Bailey
    In an age when the term "shut down corner" has become a cliche, he's one of the few to whom the term really applies. Takes an enormous amount of pressure off of the rest of the defense.

    Kansas City Chiefs: Trent Green
    Larry Johnson still has Priest Holmes behind him. Chiefs could not afford to lose Green.

    Dallas Cowboys: Roy Williams
    Without the threat of Williams' big hits, receivers would run free in the Dallas secondary, which has been suspect at times.

    Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb
    For all the criticism he's received, he's a special talent who has kept the Eagles in the running for the better part of the last six years.

    New York Giants: Tiki Barber
    Eli Manning should be very thankful that Barber managed to find the Fountain of Youth.

    Washington Redskins: Santana Moss
    Clinton Portis has quality backups. Moss is a unique playmaker on the Redskins' offense.

    Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith
    Without him, the Panther's offense is vanilla and could be very stagnant.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carnell Williams
    Quickly became the focal point of the Bucs' offense as a rookie.

    New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees
    Their fortunes will rise or fall with newly acquired Brees. His consistency, which was Aaron Brooks' weak point, should be very appreciated.

    Atlanta Falcons: Michael Vick
    Though it remains to be seen if they can win it all with him, and Matt Shaub is a very good backup, Vick is still the player that controls the Falcons' destiny.

    Minnesota Vikings: Brad Johnson
    Minnesota has put all their eggs in a fairly old basket with Johnson. If he is unable to repeat his play from last year, they're in trouble.

    Chicago Bears: Brian Urlacher
    He's the heart and soul of the defense, and defense is the heart and soul of the team.

    Detroit Lions: Dre Bly
    He's an important part of the defense, and the depth behind him is thin and inexperienced.

    Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre
    No surprise that the State of Wisconsin is holding their breath waiting to hear whether he'll be back.

    Seattle Seahawks: Walter Jones
    With Steve Hutchinson gone, he's the key to their offensive line. Without him, Alexander struggles and Hasselbeck has to watch his back.

    St. Louis Rams: Orlando Pace
    Marc Bulger now has a quality back up, as do Steven Jackson, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Without Pace to anchor the line, the Rams would be in trouble.

    Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner
    Warner's back-ups have fewer than 100 combined career passing attempts in the NFL.

    San Francisco Niners: Derek Smith
    With Julian Petersen gone, he's the defensive leader and a key veteran presence on the team.


  2. #2
    OrlandoPaceIsMyHero Guest

    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    Heck yeah! That's my boy!

    I've been saying it for years!

    -OPIMH

  3. #3
    Rip32 Guest

    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    I would agree with that also,If we lost Pace we would go downhill fast

  4. #4
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    Interesting thread, AV.

    QBs - 10
    RBs - 6
    WRs - 5
    LBs - 4
    OTs - 3
    CBs - 2
    S - 1
    DT - 1

    No DEs, OGs, or C

    I find it interesting that for all the fuss that DEs receive in this league, not a one made the list.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #5
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    I'm not too sure about Pace. He's not the only one we can't afford to lose. Barron is starting to look like a must-have, too.

  6. #6
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    It is an interesting thread, but I'm going to have to disagree on a some of these. Randy Moss should be a player the Raiders couldn't do without, but in real life he wasn't a big impact last year (his only year with the team). He was a player the Vikings couldn't do without, but he has yet to prove that status with the Raiders. It's hard to name a player vital to the success of a team that simply hasn't been successful, though. I'd say LaMont Jordan for Oakland because their closest games were the ones in which they gave him the ball regularly, but the same problem arises with the the Lions, the Cardinals, the *****, etc. although I think you did a good job of picking them out on those teams.

    Denver was pretty successful before they got Champ. Undoubtedly he is an excellent talent, but I'm not sure their success hinges on him so much. I'd actually say Plummer despite his shortcomings has been more the linchpin. When he falters, they lose.

    With Carolina, I ask which would be worse: Delhomme throwing to Keyshawn or Chris Weinke throwing to Steve Smith?

    I'd have to go with Ray Lewis or Ed Reed on the Ravens. The defense fell apart when those guys were hampered by injuries last year, and Ogden's play has largely gone to waste because of the fellow behind him throwing the ball. If they lost Ogden, could the passing game be much worse?

    I'm undecided about Pace. Overall, it's a pretty good list and quite thought-provoking. Very nice. One thing I think it really brings out is how much defense is a team effort. The majority of players who come to mind as linchpins are on offense, even on defense-oriented teams.

  7. #7
    Rip32 Guest

    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    I agree Ogden would not be the most important player on the Ravens it would clearly be Lewis or Reed.

  8. #8
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    Quote Originally Posted by goldenfleece
    Randy Moss should be a player the Raiders couldn't do without, but in real life he wasn't a big impact last year
    But how did the Raiders do without his impact last year?

    Ahh, exactly.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  9. #9
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    First of all, I hoped this would stir some debate, and I'm glad to see it did.

    GF's point about defenses being more of a team effort, while offenses often rely on a single player is a good one.

    Another interesting thing that came out of doing this is that I was very surprised at how few teams live and die by their QB. I would have guessed that the QBs would have been the linchpins on at least half of the teams, but I only came up with 10.

  10. #10
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    Did you write that, AvengerRam? I find it rather fascinating that you have Brad Johnson as the Vikings' linchpin after they spent so much money to get Hutchinson at LG, while you have Walter Jones as a linchpin at LT protecting Hasselbeck -- who took the team on his back against the Redskins in the playoffs, and whose be almost irreplaceable at that level of effectiveness.

    You should probably do a two-pronged list, one for offensive linchpin and one for defensive linchpin. It would be easier to narrow down to that.

  11. #11
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTalon
    Did you write that, AvengerRam?
    Yes. Why do you ask?

    I find it rather fascinating that you have Brad Johnson as the Vikings' linchpin after they spent so much money to get Hutchinson at LG, while you have Walter Jones as a linchpin at LT protecting Hasselbeck -- who took the team on his back against the Redskins in the playoffs, and whose be almost irreplaceable at that level of effectiveness.
    It would be easy to name the QB of virtually every team as the linchpin player. In the Seahawks case, however, I still think their bread-and-butter is the running game and, with Hutchinson gone, they really need Jones to anchor the line. His ability to neutralize pass rushers also helps Hasselbeck to have success.

    In the Vikings case, their line is more balanced (Bryant McKinney is one of the more underrated LTs in the league, in my opinion) so no one player is the key. They have really put their fortunes in Brad Johnson's hands by letting Culpepper go.

    You should probably do a two-pronged list, one for offensive linchpin and one for defensive linchpin. It would be easier to narrow down to that.
    Sure, but that would change the point of the thread somewhat.

  12. #12
    BlueTalon's Avatar
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    Re: Linchpins: The Player Each Team Can't Afford To Lose

    I asked because the list wasn't attributed to anyone else.

    And I wasn't saying you should have done anything specifically different (a linchpin list not including QBs?), I just found what you did fascinating. I probably would have done it differently, but then again I didn't take the time to do the research or make the list.

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