Manning, Lewis tough to stop

Merrill Hoge and Eric Allen discuss which players they think cause coordinators headaches.

Updated: October 29, 2004, 5:12 PM ET
ESPN.com

Several players around the league keep coordinators and coaches up late trying to account for them in their game plans. Merril Hoge, Eric Allen and Joe Theismann discuss the league's most feared players.

Hoge
I played in the league a long time and I never feared anybody, so I wonder if anyone is really feared in the NFL. My bet for the most difficult player to get ready for or defend against is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. He's so far ahead of what a defense is doing. He has answers for any defense that's shown to him and if the defense shows him a scheme too early in the snap count, he'll make the defense pay. Defenses can't consistently show him the same thing because he can capitalize on the repetition. So I believe coordinators and players stay up the week before playing the Colts because of Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore. He might be the most underrated offensive coordinator in the league.
Allen
Has to be a player who can't be avoided during the course of the game, so that takes most defensive players out. My choice is Jamal Lewis. Thinking about having to tackle Lewis in a one-on-one situation makes you want to look for another occupation. Another guy who had that defensive mentality on offense was Terrell Davis. He ran with great speed and power. He gave me a blow to my head with his knee that made me see rainbows for hours.
Theismann
I don't like the term "feared." I'd prefer to speak of the player you have to be the most aware of … and that's Dallas safety Roy Williams. There are other safeties in that category -- Brian Dawkins, Adam Archuleta, Ed Reed. But Williams is at the top of my list. Safeties get running starts, more than linebackers, and that makes them dangerous.

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