NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi has put together player rankings based on the “chip” system, with blue chips representing players that are among the top 10 at their position and red chips representing players within the top 15 at their position. As with all lists, rankings are somewhat subjective and you can argue for players being in and out of these lists, but this particular list is an interesting take on ranking players. According to Lombardi, the New England Patriots have 5 blue chip players and 6 red chip players. Technically, they have 4 blue chip players, as Head Coach Bill Belichick is listed among the blue chippers on the team. The only other head coach in the AFC listed is the Titans’ Jeff Fisher.
The Patriots’ blue chip players are QB Tom Brady, NT Vince Wilfork, WR Wes Welker, and G Logan Mankins (who may knock the Pats down to 3 blue chip players if he gets his trade wish or decides not to suit up this season). The Pats’ red chip players are WR Randy Moss, T Sebastian Vollmer, T Matt Light, DE Ty Warren, SS Brandon Meriweather, and OLB Tully Banta-Cain. here’s what Lombardi had to say about the Patriots:
“Brady is still in the top 10 among quarterbacks, but like many Patriots he will need to play better in 2010 then he did last season. Welker was a blue-chipper last year, but I’m not sure he can regain that level coming off his knee injuries. Linebacker Jerod Mayo did not make the list because of the knee injury that kept him out of the first four games last year and slowed him thereafter. The Patriots need him to be an effective player again.”
As with most lists, I have some issues with this one. First off, using Lombardi’s reasoning, Jerod Mayo should be listed on here if he listed Wes Welker. Mayo, despite the knee injury, was an effective player. What he lacked were the big plays (sacks, etc.), but he was still a solid tackler. He had 103 tackles despite missing those four games. mayo should be in the red chip category. Also, Randy Moss is a blue chip wide receiver, end of discussion. Also injured much of last season, Moss still put up an impressive 1,264 yards and snagged 13 touchdowns. I was pleasantly surprised to see Sebastian Vollmer on the list, as he is probably the second-best offensive lineman (behind Mankins) on the team at the present time. I’m not sure that I would put Banta-Cain in as a red chip player. Sure, he did get 10 sacks last season, but that’s really what he is: a pass rusher. If a player is among the top 15 at his position, I would expect that he would be as effective against the run as he is against the pass. I’m not sure Banta-Cain is an effective 3-down player. I would also place CB Leigh Bodden in the red chip category. I don’t think Bodden gets nearly the love he deserves from the national sports media. He had a spectacular year despite having a virtually non-existent pass rush behind him and an overall secondary that was lackluster, which is why I think he often gets overlooked. I can’t think of 15 corners that are better. Lastly, I feel that K Stephen Gostkowski deserved at least a red chip, if not blue chip ranking. Gostkowski is unquestionably among the best kickers in the NFL. He’s an accurate field goal kicker who has a long range and is in the top 10 in the NFL in kick-off yard average and touch-backs.
How do the Patriots stack up in their division?
If you count Belichick, the Pats are tied for second in the AFC East with the Dolphins, who have 5 blue chip players. Not counting Belichick, the Pats only beat out the Buffalo Bills, who have no blue chip players. The Jets have an AFC East high 7 blue chip players, which also ties them with the Baltimore Ravens for best in the AFC. However, if you count overall ranked players (that’s including the red chippers) the Pats are tops in the AFC East with 11 total ranked players, beating out the Jets’ 10. That also ties the for the AFC lead with the Ravens, who also have 11 ranked players. I believe that illustrates how the Patriots try to build their team. The Pats’ philosophy includes have a strong “middle class” of players that boosts the overall depth of the team, which allows them to be contenders year in and year out.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a blue chip quarterback and head coach.
Tags: AFC East Bill Belichick Brandon Meriweather Logan Mankins Matt Light New England Patriots NFL NFL Network Randy Moss Sebastian Vollmer Tom Brady Tully Banta-Cain Ty Warren Vince Wilfork Wes Welker