The opportunity to play GM was a lot tougher than I expected, but I had a great time putting together this team. From picking the head coach to selecting the final guy on the roster, each decision was made with the goal of building a Super Bowl winner. I eschewed the temptation to build a team that would compile gaudy individual statistics like a fantasy team, and concentrated on shaping a roster that would thrive in the scheme crafted by the coaches on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, I wanted to create a roster that could present a myriad of offensive looks while maintaining a power running game as a foundation. Although the offense will be built around the run, the goal was to assemble enough weapons on the outside to attack down the field in the passing game.
Defensively, the goal was to build the team around a dominant front seven. Stopping the run and pressuring the passer are keys to fielding a championship defense, so the emphasis was to acquire great talent with versatility to allow us to attack from a variety of fronts to keep offenses off-balanced. The roster was assembled with a 3-4 defense in mind, but the versatility of front seven will allow us to run some 4-3 and "46" schemes as well.
On special teams, I wanted to create a unit that had the ability to create scoring opportunities in the kicking game. The third phase of the game is often overlooked, but by dominating in the kicking game, we will be able to win the field-position battle in an effort to win games by being fundamentally sound.
I don't expect this roster to be loved by all, but I'm confident that this team would seriously contend for a Super Bowl title based on its overall talent, versatility and depth.
Click here for Bucky Brooks' 53-man roster.
Head Coach: Marty SchottenheimerI'm sure the decision to pick Schottenheimer as a head coach is surprising to many, but based on his credentials and coaching style, I think that he is the perfect guy to lead this team. Schottenheimer ranks fifth on the all-time list in regular-season wins (200) and his .613 winning percentage is ninth-best among coaches who have coached more than 200 regular-season games. Though critics will point to his disappointing postseason record (5-13), few can match his track record and consistency as a head coach (13 playoff appearances and only two losing seasons in his 21-year career). Regarded as one of the game's finest teachers, Schottenheimer's teams are fundamentally sound and physical on both sides of the ball. In addition, he commands the respect of his players despite being a stickler for details in all aspects of the game. Although "Marty-ball" isn't always pretty, the man consistently wins and that is what drove me to pick him as the head coach of my team.
Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron, Baltimore RavensThe Ravens' offensive coordinator is one of the most creative minds in the business and has experience working with Schottenheimer. As the Chargers' offensive coordinator, Cameron orchestrated an offense that led the National Football League in scoring in 2006, and registered top-five finishes in that category in 2004 and 2005. Cameron has designed top offensive attacks by using a power running game to set up an explosive vertical pass attack. Under his direction, the Chargers' offense became only the sixth offense in NFL history to produce a 3,500-yard passer (Drew Brees), 1,000-yard rusher (LaDanian Tomlinson) and 1,000-yard receiver (Antonio Gates) in the same season (2005). In addition, he helped Tomlinson become only the first player in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards while catching 100 passes (2003) and developed Brees into a Pro-Bowl quarterback (2004-2005) while directing Chargers' attack. With a proven track record as a play caller and a knack for tailoring game plans to suit the strengths of his personnel, I think Cameron is the right choice to be the offensive coordinator for this team.
Defensive Coordinator: Rex Ryan, Baltimore RavensAs the Ravens' defensive coordinator since 2005, Ryan has demonstrated the ability to field a top-ranked defense while using unconventional methods at times. Ryan's defense is a 3-4 by design, but his willingness to mix up his fronts with a variety of personnel packages makes it extremely challenging for offenses. His Ravens' defenses have finished in the top five in overall defense in two of his three seasons as defensive coordinator, including his 2006 unit that ranked first in the league in points allowed (201), total defense (264.1), interceptions (28) and fewest first-downs permitted (236) while ranking second in sacks (60) and takeaways (40). Despite dealing with a spate of injuries last season, Ryan's defense still ranked sixth in total defense and second in rush defense. With extensive experience dealing with a star-studded lineup and a creative mind willing to take an innovative approach to defense, I think Ryan is the ideal fit for the defensive coordinator job.
Drew Brees ($9,000,000) is the perfect triggerman for this offense. As an accurate passer with surprising long-ball touch and accuracy, Brees' skills are ideally suited to thrive in Cam Cameron's offense. The two-time Pro Bowler has consistently completed more than 63 percent of his passes throughout his career, and his willingness to spread the ball around to multiple receivers makes this offense dangerous. Though other franchise quarterbacks were available, I think he is the right fit for this system.
Damon Huard ($2,672,906) is a smart backup who has proven he is able to effectively manage a game when given the opportunity.
Steven Jackson ($2,252,500) has the tools to flourish as the focal point of the offense. As a physical runner with excellent receiving skills, Jackson is capable of rushing for more than 1,500 yards while adding 50-60 receptions.
Brandon Jacobs ($1,080,750) gives the team another "whammer" to pound between the tackles while Selvin Young ($383,146) contributes to the offense as a "change of pace" back. Michael Robinson ($808,812) anchors the special teams unit and functions as the team's emergency quarterback on game day.
Tony Richardson ($491,720) is still one of the top fullbacks in the game, and he will pave the way for Jackson and Jacobs.
Steve Smith ($6,085,012) gives the team a dynamic playmaker in the passing game, and his ability to command double coverage will open up the rest of the field for his teammates. T.J. Houshmandzadeh ($3,687,500) starts opposite Smith, and moves into the slot in the team's three-receiver sets. As one of the league's best slot receivers, he will punish defenses for paying too much attention to Smith and Winslow.
Marques Colston ($458,960) is a nice complementary receiver, and his size gives Brees a big target to find in the red zone. Devin Hester ($795,000) and Kassim Osgood ($1,056,120) are major contributors on special teams, but Hester should see a few snaps on offense as a gadget player.
Kellen Winslow II ($4,599,584) and Benjamin Watson ($1,318,387) are listed as tight ends, but their speed and explosiveness forces them to be viewed as wide receivers by defenses. Thus, their presence on the field creates a major dilemma for defensive coordinators when "12" (one running back, two tight ends and two receivers) or "22" (two backs, two tight ends and one receiver) is on the field.
Brandon Manumaleuna ($1,600,000) plays a key role as the blocking tight end, and is able to fill-in as a fullback when Richardson is out of the lineup. Kevin Boss ($417,660) adds depth to the position as the fourth tight end.
This massive offensive line features a collection of players who excel at mauling defenders at the point of attack. Jason Peters ($4,450,000) and Leonard Davis ($4,416,666) form a powerful left side. The presence of Jeff Faine ($7,000,000), Jahri Evans ($566,194) and Jamaal Brown ($2,125,000) on the right allows Cameron to maintain balance when calling running plays. The team should be able to pound teams relentlessly with Jackson and Jacobs between the tackles.
All the backups have extensive starting experience, and their skills mesh well with the starting unit. Overall, this unit will control the game at the line of scrimmage and allow us to create the powerful, ball-control attack envisioned for this team.
The key to our defense is the front seven, and the defensive line sets the table. Thus, it was important to assemble a line that features three players capable of drawing double teams at any time. Shaun Rogers ($3,433,333) is too good to be blocked solely by a center, and his ability to attract attention in the middle will free up his counterparts -- Kevin Williams ($4,209,249) and Mario Williams ($4,750,000)-- to attack off the edges. Moreover, the athleticism of the Williams' tandem allows Ryan to use a variety of stunts and games to keep blockers off balance. Tank Johnson ($825,000), Darnell Dockett and Luis Castillo ($1,601,620) are solid rotation players with the versatility to fill multiple roles along the line.
The linebacking corps is backbone of the defense, and the unit assembled features some of the finest playmakers in the game. Shawne Merriman ($2,643,620) and DeMarcus Ware ($2,157,000) are an imposing set of bookends off the edge, and they should feast off the one-on-one matchups dictated by the dominant interior line. Patrick Willis ($4,081,000) and David Harris ($1,121,240) are terrific run defenders who will thrive as "run-and-chase" defenders in the middle.
Backups Antwan Barnes ($472,386) and Lamar Woodley ($726,720) are capable pass rushers, but they will primarily make their contributions on special teams. Leon Williams ($564,220) and Derek Smith ($1,256,120) are legitimate interior 'backers who can step in as spot starters while filling key roles as special teamers. Victor Hobson ($491,720) adds depth to the unit.
The secondary features a host of ballhawks set to gobble up the hurried throws forced by the pressure created by the dominant front seven. Rashean Mathis ($3,804,000) and Leigh Bodden ($2,706,720) are underrated corners, but their cover skills and knack for coming down with interceptions make them great fits in this attack-style defense. Lito Sheppard ($2,731,720) mans the nickel position and adds another playmaker to the line up. Darren Sharper ($4,300,000) and Ed Reed ($3,411,720) are two of the finest playmakers in NFL history and their penchant for producing game-changing plays makes their presence in the secondary essential.
The backupsadd versatility to the sub-package, while also making key contributions on special teams.
John Kasay ($1,906,240) has repeatedly demonstrated that he can handle the pressure of a big kick, and his ability to knock down field goals longer than 50 yards makes him an additional weapon for the offense. Jason Kyle ($916,240) has worked with Kasay over the years, so it made sense to take advantage of their chemistry. Mike Scifries ($1,156,120) gives the team a chance to flip the field with his booming kicks, and fills in as a kickoff specialist.