Mike Lombardi on NFL.com comes up with his Blue Chip, Red Chip list for the past few seasons. The Blue Chip list represents players that are practically irreplaceable and rank in the top five in their position. The Red Chip list comprises of players who leave a big impact on the field, can change the outcome of the game at times and rank in the top 10 in their position. Yesterday Mike did the offense and today he did defense. How did things turn out for the members of the Black & Gold?
You know it’s funny how Lombardi says that blue chip players rank within the top five in their position yet right off the bat, he puts six names in at QB. In fact, it’s the only list out of all the postions – offense or defense – that gets six names. Big Ben Roethlisberger makes that list (rightfully so) but that pesky Philip Rivers made this list. The only guy out of that list who did not win a Super Bowl out of the group. We’ve had this debate before, but based on Lombardi’s criteria for Blue Chip - Combines competitiveness and skill to have a consistent championship-level performance – I think Rivers falls short. Well at least Ben makes the cut. Thankfully Mike Vick – the black version or the white version – came in as a red chipper and not blue.
Rashard Mendenhall came in as a red chip on this list. I think that’s fair. Looking at the other premiere backs in the league, it’s tough to come up against guys like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. The list is straight up out of a fantasy football draft. I do feel that Jamaal Charles from the Chiefs got the raw end by being a red instead of blue. He certainly has the ball skills over Ray Rice from the Ravens (who is listed as a blue chip).
Mike Wallace made it as a red chip among a list of wide outs that could have been off the list as easily as they were put on. Come this season, I think Wallace could make a strong case to be listed as a blue chip. He’s such a great target on the field and has great hands. Let’s be honest with ourselves, should this guy ever play for a pass heavy team like the Colts, Wallace would have HOF numbers in no time.
Heath Miller is a red chip. Heath is certainly within the top 10 of his class, but looking at the other TE’s that are listed in the blue, I wonder about the blue criteria again. Sure Vernon Davis and Mercedes Lewis may have great hands and are invaluable to a passing game. But, Miller is a huge factor in the Steelers running game which is part of being someone who lines up on the offensive line. You can’t just be exclusive to one factor for a list like that. I think Miller is a blue among his peers.
Maurkice Pouncey was the only offensive linemen to be listed as any chip (no surprises there!), and he came in as a blue. Rightfully so. Even though he is still very young in the league, he has shown a level of skill and maturity that surpasses most centers in the league. Doug Legursky may have ‘filled in nicely’ for Pouncey in the Super Bowl – but I wonder if the outcome would have been a little different had Pouncey been able to play that game. That’s a blue chip player.
Casey Hampton – Red Chip. NT is an underrated and inglorious position. Most of the success of the Steelers run defense is due to the Steelers’ front line, mainly Casey Hampton. The dude blows up the middle taking two guys with him, opening up holes for the LB’s and guys like Polamalu to blitz up the middle with ease. No Steelers DE made the cut for red or blue, I think mainly because Aaron Smith has been injured so much the last two seasons. Casey validates the list, but should be a blue because of what he allows the rest of the defense to do.
Lawrence Timmons – The Steelers’ freshly signed youngin’ is in the blue chip list for ILB’s. Posting 96 solos last year Timmons ruled the middle of the line and field. He’s big and tall and is a force to be reckoned with in both running and pass plays. He only had 3 sacks last year, but was responsible for eating up men on the line to get other Steelers in on sacks and tackles for losses. Interestingly enough, Ray Lewis is a red chip – fair assessment? I think so. When was the last time he was every really discussed/analyzed during games last season?
James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley – These two made the blue chip OLB list and rightfully so. They are the best 1, 2 punch at linebacker to play the game in the last decade – and quite possibly ever. Combining for over 100 tackles and 20.5 sacks last season, these two kill it on the field with explosiveness off the snap and hard hitting. Speaking of 1, 2 – that’s how these two should be ranked among current LB’s. They beat out Ware, Suggs and Matthews easily on every intangible.
Troy Polamalu – Polamalu is the only Steeler from the secondary to make a list, and he is uncontestedly a blue chip player. He’s an animal on the field. He’s been injured and hampered by those injuries. But, when Troy is healthy there is no better safety in the league.
Mike Tomlin – Mike Tomlin is a blue chip head coach. Two Super Bowl trips and one Super Bowl victory, a few divisional wins and a cool head in the face of pressure makes Tomlin an elite head coach. A coach that he or McCarthy should have won coach of the year for last season. The Steelers are lucky to have Tomlin – the Rooney’s know how to pick’em. He may not be able to wrangle in the players with off the field stuff, but he knows how to command his players into a football winning machine on the field.
Note: For someone who was said to be one of the top corners up for FA this season, Ike Taylor made neither the blue chip or red chip list. Does Taylor get a bad wrap for being associated with an average secondary? Or, is everyone a little too generous in their assessment of our favorite shut down corner?
Ten players out of the 53 man roster made the list as some of the best players in the league. Almost 20% of your roster makes up the top 7% of talent in the league. That’s pretty impressive. Pretty elite in fact. Maybe it’s the Patriots that should be worried this year.