Texans' Mike Brisiel headlines USA TODAY's 20th All-Joe team

Discussion in 'Texans Talk' started by srrono, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. srrono

    srrono Hall of Fame

    Jan 6, 2011
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    Mike Brisiel won't ever be mistaken for Jack Youngblood.

    A Hall of Fame defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams— appropriate since he resembled a Hollywood leading man — Youngblood earned lasting fame by playing through the 1979 playoffs (including Super Bowl XIV) with a fractured left fibula.

    Brisiel? He's been elected captain of the 20th All-Joe Team, USA TODAY's annual squad celebrating first-rate players who receive second-rate recognition.

    Who? What?

    Playing guard for the Houston Texans may as well be the NFL's version of the Witness Protection Program, but that's been the job for Brisiel, who (naturally) wasn't drafted, for the last six seasons. And it's probably why — despite the media saturation the NFL enjoys in the 21st century — he barely registered a blip despite playing two postseason games for the Texans not four weeks after breaking his right fibula, one of two weight-bearing bones in the lower leg.

    Let us be more specific. Brisiel had a player roll up the back of his right leg — a nightmare scenario for any offensive lineman while they're engaged in a block — during an Oct. 9 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Brisiel played the next nine weeks with what he called a "hot spot" in his leg until it finally cracked Dec. 11 at Cincinnati.

    Again, let us be more specific. Brisiel broke the bone early on against the Bengals but finished the game, the one that clinched the first-ever playoff berth for the Texans. The next day, he needed six screws and a plate surgically implanted to stabilize the leg.

    "The adrenaline was pumping big time because we had to win that game to clinch our division," Brisiel recalls. "In the game it swelled up, but it didn't bother me enough to keep me out. I look back on it, I probably should've been in more pain."

    Despite his courageous display of toughness, Brisiel says it was he who was grateful to the Texans.

    "I've been here for six years. When they told me I wouldn't be on IR (season-ending injured reserve), I was so incredibly thankful, and I got a chance to play in our first playoff game."

    With 26 days of rehabilitation and bone stimulation, Brisiel made the most of that chance, starting Jan. 7 when the Texans crushed the Bengals 31-10 in the wild-card round to the delight of Houstonians at rocking Reliant Stadium. He was back on the front lines the following week when the Texans' breakthrough season was ended by the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the playoffs.

    By the way, he needed arthroscopic surgery on his ankle following that game.

    Despite such a valiant effort, Brisiel (pronounced BREYE-zell) is so unassuming that he thought the Texans public relations staff was pulling a prank when informed of his All-Joe captaincy.

    As for the pain? "Not that big of a deal," Brisiel says. "Once the plates are in there, you're safe. It's just how much pain can you handle."

    Rather than tout his pain threshold, Brisiel credits Houston's trainers for getting him ready to play. Rather than basking in his performance, Brisiel praises tailbacks Arian Foster and Ben Tate for making him look good.

    Uh, Mike, they're supposed to thank you.

    "It's a blessing to be part of a group of guys who want to work every day," he says.

    And work hard they have.

    The Houston O-line was a laughingstock when Brisiel arrived, the unit frequently blamed for the demise of former quarterback David Carr. But it's quietly become one of the best groups in the league, fronting an offense ranked fourth or better in three of the past four years while paving the way to Foster's rushing title in 2010. Tackles Duane Brown and Eric Winston and center Chris Myers are all worthy All-Joe candidates, though Myers is forever disqualified after getting added to the AFC's Pro Bowl roster, the first Texans O-lineman ever so honored.

    "I love it down here," says Brisiel "There's something growing here, and I want to be a part of it."

    Which is why he hopes Houston re-signs him even though his current deal is set to expire. Brisiel's outlook on the potential riches of free agency? About what you'd expect.

    "I'm treading in unfamiliar territory," he says. "This is the first time I've not had a contract.

    "Everyone wants to reach free agency, and you get there — and now I don't know what to do."

    Enjoy it, Mike. You've definitely earned a reward.

    About the team: The All-Joe team was created in 1992 by longtime USA TODAY NFL writer Larry Weisman as a tribute to Joe Phillips, a 14-year defensive lineman who did yeoman's work for the Kansas City Chiefs that season. His effort in the trenches didn't lead to much glory … unless you point to the 29 combined sacks of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith, Kansas City's fifth-ranked defense or the team's wild-card run. USA TODAY has honored the unsung Joes of the NFL ever since. Only players who have never been named to the Pro Bowl during their careers are eligible.

  2. srrono

    srrono Hall of Fame

    Jan 6, 2011
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    QB: Matthew Stafford, Lions - The last time the All-Joe team selected a player who passed for more than 5,000 yards and 40 TDs was never. Despite posting such numbers and leading Detroit into postseason for the first time this century, Stafford could not snap the Lions' 40-year streak of failing to send a quarterback to the Pro Bowl. But he'll fix that soon enough. Alex Smith, 49ers - He may never be as good as the man he was drafted way ahead of (Aaron Rodgers), but his team player longer this season largely thanks to Smith's playoff heroics. After throwing a league-low five interceptions, Smith could really blossom in 2012 while playing in the same offense in successive seasons for the first time … provided San Francisco re-signs him. Tim Tebow, Broncos - Love him or loathe the hype surrounding him, there's no denying he revitalized a team that was dead in the water into AFC West champs. We especially appreciate his willingness to play wideout when Kyle Orton was still the starter.

    RB: Reggie Bush, Dolphins - Proved to doubters that he could run between the tackles and notched his first 1,000-yard season, nearly doubling his previous career high. Fred Jackson, Bills - Buffalo really went downhill after he broke his leg in Week 11. Unheralded product from Division III Coe College averaged nearly 140 yards from scrimmage. Ben Tate, Texans - After a broken ankle scuttled his rookie year, he had a sophomore surge by running for 942 yards (5.4 yards per clip) as Arian Foster's understudy.

    FB: Jim Kleinsasser, Vikings - He could play fullback, he could play tight end, and this 270-pounder could block so well that defenders wanted no part of him for 13 years. He retired following the 2011 season and now appears headed to a first-ballot selection to the All-Joe Hall of Fame.

    WR: Victor Cruz, Giants - Given his Hispanic heritage and end-zone salsa dances, maybe we should create an All-Jose team for him. However he'd be just as overqualified for that one as he is for All-Joe after churning out a team record 1,536 receiving yards. Jordy Nelson, Packers - How a guy scores 15 TDs in the season after he was a Super Bowl hero and gets shut out of postseason honors is beyond us … but we'll gladly take him. Marques Colston, Saints - Yes, we're sure, he's never been a Pro Bowler despite five 1,000-yard seasons in his six-year career. Call him a byproduct of the New Orleans' passing offense at your own risk. Just make sure you call him tough after a broken collarbone suffered in Week 1 kept him out all of two weeks. Laurent Robinson, Cowboys - Basically walked off the street to sub for injured Miles Austin and scored 11 TDs for Dallas after reaching the end zone four times in his first four seasons. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks - How many undrafted rookies have led their team in receptions and receiving yards since the merger? It's a club of one, and Baldwin is the charter member. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders - Blew up for 975 receiving yards, better than any season ever produced by Michael Crabtree, the man Oakland was blasted for bypassing to draft DHB in 2009.

    TE: Aaron Hernandez, Patriots - He catches (79 receptions, 910 yards, 7 TDs), blocks and even plays running back as evidenced by his playoff performance against the Broncos. Brent Celek, Eagles - Tough yards are his forte. According to STATS Inc., his 8.1 yards after the catch (and he had 62 receptions) was the best among all tight ends in 2011. Celek is also an effective blocker, a trait not all modern tight ends are known for.

    T: Duane Brown, Texans - The Pro Bowls are coming, so we're going to enlist him for our team while we still can. Andrew Whitworth, Bengals - Steady leader and solid blocker for a young team that relied on both attributes during its surprising wild-card run. Todd Herremans, Eagles - A starting guard his first six NFL seasons, he shifted to right tackle in 2011, a move that made him Michael Vick's blind-side bodyguard. Philadelphia's 6,386 yards were a team record. Max Starks, Steelers - He was cut right after the lockout, then summoned off his couch 10 weeks later on Oct. 5. He was in the starting lineup four days after that and never left.

    G: Mike Brisiel, Texans - Enough said. Josh Sitton, Packers - He doesn't get much notoriety despite starting for the league's No. 1 scoring offense. Yet he's got an argument as the game's best at his position, whether or not most fans have heard of him. Chris Kuper, Broncos - Team captain helped O-line transition to Tebow's style while spearheading the NFL's most productive running game.

    C: Roberto Garza, Bears - Capably filled the leadership and positional void left after the bitter departure of longtime leader Olin Kreutz. Todd McClure, Falcons - The glue of an Atlanta line that allowed 10 sacks of Matt Ryan in the three games McClure missed. Ryan went down just 16 times during McClure's 13 starts, none surrendered by the center himself. Dominic Raiola, Lions - Consider this a lifetime achievement award for a fiery team captain who endured so many losses in his first 10 seasons before enjoying his first postseason trip.


    DE: Chris Long, Rams - The No. 2 pick of the 2008 draft turned in his best season, posting a career-high 13 sacks. He's also tough at the point of attack and tough in the run game. J.J. Watt, Texans - If you didn't know his name before the postseason, you do after watching his momentum-swinging pick six of the Bengals and 2.5-sack day in Baltimore. More than justified Houston's investment of the 11th overall pick in him last spring. Chris Clemons, Seahawks - One of the best speed rushers in the game, he's registered 11 sacks each of the past two years. He also posted a career-best 51 tackles in 2011 and forced three fumbles. Red Bryant, Seahawks - You don't find many 6-4, 323-pounders at this position. But Bryant has anchored Seattle's impressive run defense the past two years, helping it limit opponents to 3.8 yards per carry in 2011. Calais Campbell, Cardinals - It's hard to get sacks out of a three-man front, but he had eight in 2011. The 6-8, 300-pounder also made 72 tackles, swatted 10 passes and tied Bryant for the league lead by blocking three field goals. Jeremy Mincey, Jaguars - Jacksonville finally finds a reliable option (57 tackles, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles) at what's long bee a problem spot for the team. But now the Jags may lose Mincey to free agency.

    DT: Henry Melton, Bears - This former Longhorn can run like a deer. Why? Because he used to play running back at Texas. Now this 295-pounder rushes quarterbacks to the tune of seven sacks in 2011. Sione Pouha, Jets - Despite toiling as a space-eating nose tackle, he's totaled 100 tackles spanning the past two seasons while becoming a first-rate run stuffer as Kris Jenkins' replacement. Now the Jets must figure out a way to keep Pouha, a free agent, while dealing with their other issues.

    OLB: Aldon Smith, 49ers - He won't be a regular Joe for long. He didn't start once, but his 14 sacks were one shy of setting a new rookie record. Connor Barwin, Texans - A starter for the first time, the third-year pass rusher greatly softened the loss of Mario Williams by turning in 11.5 sacks. He's also got a 'do that would make Seinfield's Kramer jealous. Jarret Johnson, Ravens - The numbers will never wow you (56 tackles, 2.5 sacks), but he's an intrinsic element of a perennial stout defense who never gets his due as a blue-collar guy amid so many stars. Antwan Barnes, Chargers - San Diego found a new pass rusher as journeyman had nine sacks in his final 10 games.

    ILB: David Harris, Jets - On his way to being the next London Fletcher: tons of production, no recognition. But he did it all again in 2011 with 86 tackles, five sacks, four picks. Sean Lee, Cowboys: Arguably the best pass defender among NFL backers, he matched Harris' four interceptions for the positional lead in 2011. Lee also amassed 105 tackles despite playing much of the year with a broken wrist that required a club-like cast. D'Qwell Jackson, Browns - Led the AFC with 158 tackles, perhaps not that surprising given so many runners reached the second level of Cleveland's defense. But credit his production after he missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 with injuries. Pat Angerer, Colts - High-motor player took over in the middle for injured Gary Brackett early in the season and responded with 148 stops, second only to Jackson in the AFC. James Anderson, Panthers - He's had to step up for a unit riddled with injuries in recent years and has nearly 200 solo tackles since 2010.

    CB: Lardarius Webb, Ravens: If you watched him in postseason, you saw a player who's got a chance to be a star. After pilfering five passes as a first-year starter, he added three more in the playoffs. Jason McCourty, Titans - The relatively unknown twin of Patriot Devin McCourty, Jason showed a willingness to get dirty with 105 tackles, a huge total at the position. He also broke up 13 passes. Kyle Arrington, Patriots - Yes, New England's pass defense was highly suspect in 2011. But anyone who picks off a league-high seven balls is good enough for a cup of Joe. Joe Haden, Browns - It's always nice to have a bona fide Joe on the roster. But don't expect him to be here long. His goose egg in the INT column is a sign of respect from leery quarterbacks, not lack of ability. Brandon Flowers, Chiefs - With 70 pass break-ups and 13 picks in four seasons, he's also going places … like Honolulu in the near future.

    S: Donte Whitner, 49ers - Paroled from Buffalo, he frequently displayed tone-setting physicality, most notably in San Francisco's playoff win vs. the Saints. Poor Pierre Thomas …Jim Leonhard, Jets - His value as the quarterback of the defense was pretty apparent after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 14. New York lost its last three without Leonhard, allowing 31 points per game in that stretch, and saw its playoff prospects disintegrate.


    KR: Darren Sproles, Saints - We stashed him here even though he does far more than return kicks and punts. Perhaps the best free-agent signing of the offseason, his 2,696 all-purpose yards were a league record, and the 603 on the ground led New Orleans.

    K: Connor Barth, Buccaneers - He converted 93% (27-for-29) of his field-goal attempts, best among kickers with outdoor home fields. And he didn't get a lot of gimmes, hitting 15 of 17 from 40 yards or more.

    P: Thomas Morstead - You knew he was good at the onside kick. Did you know his 43.1-yard net punting average was second in the league or that his 68 touchbacks on kickoffs were a record? (Though it's nice playing alongside an offense that allows you to kick off all day.)

    ST: Lorenzo Alexander, Redskins - Captain of special teams led unit with 21 tackles. One of the game's good guys, he's played tight end, linebacker and on both lines in his career.
    TimeKiller likes this.
  3. rush2112mn

    rush2112mn All Pro

    Apr 7, 2006
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    I remember when the Texans got Mike....he came out of Colorado State......low draft pick if I remember. He has turned out to be a steal. What a find. Shows you how good of a scouting department we have here in Houston.

    I think our scouting department is very underrated....because they have really brought in some great finds.......via the draft.

    Credit goes to the scouting department and Rick Smith...they are doing there jobs.....

    IDEXAN Hall of Fame

    Feb 18, 2010
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    Great News ! Congrats Mike, you are one of the most underrated and under appreciated players on the team. Nobody deserves this recognition more than you do ! I hope it helps you get a real ton of cash on your new contract.
    C'mon Mr McNair, open the wallet wide for a super Texan ! He's got it coming to him.
  5. DX-TEX

    DX-TEX #TomSavageDontCare

    Sep 27, 2010
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    Wasnt drafted
  6. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss MVP

    Sep 19, 2005
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    srrono, I appreciate your zeal. But please use the "quote" feature when presenting work that is not your own... it makes it easier to read, separating your opinion from someone elses.

    It's really easy to do, before you paste the information, click the "quote" icon. It looks like a little speech balloon at the top, four spaces to the right of the "link" icon.

    Who doubted that Reggie could run between the tackles? I (& I thought most of us) doubted he could consistently do so & remain healthy.... wasn't he plagued with injuries this season?

    Reggie's a playmaker & I've always acknowledged him as such. But I've never thought of him as a franchise RB.... a guy who will carry the load..... 25-30 carries a game. He's not a work-horse.

    You need to get him his touches, but is not & never was worthy of the #1 overall (or even a top 5) pick.
  7. Fox

    Fox All Pro

    Jun 20, 2007
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    Dallas, TX
    I realized how good this guy was after he went down and Caldwell started taking starter's snaps. Those guys were supposed to be fighting head to head the last couple seasons, but it became clear Brisiel is head and shoulders the better of the two. Great player, great locker room guy.
  8. cuppacoffee

    cuppacoffee Resident Grouch

    Apr 30, 2004
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  9. edo783

    edo783 Site Contributor

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Spring, TX
  10. drs23

    drs23 Veteran

    Mar 16, 2010
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    No more VIP Suite so back to the recliner

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