Peyton Manning, Earl Thomas and Jon Ryan named 2014 All-Fundamentals Team captains

By Joe Frollo | Posted 12/23/2014

Fundamentals are the cornerstone to success at the NFL level.

Good footwork, proper hand positioning and solid tackling techniques might not get you on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays, but doing the little things right helps get the job done on every down and makes the team better.

Playing fundamentally sound football fosters better on-field performance and inherent safety benefits. They also set a good example for athletes at all levels to follow.

Earlier this month, the sixth annual USA Football All-Fundamentals Team honored 26 NFL players – 11 offense, 11 defense and four special teams – recognizing athletes who exhibit exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate. A fan vote conducted at Facebook selected Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan as captains of the All-Fundamentals Team.

By being voted a USA Football All-Fundamentals Team captain, Manning, Thomas and Ryan each will receive an equipment grant valued at $2,000 from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school football programs of their choice. All other members of the team receive $1,000 equipment grants to donate.

Manning is as fundamentally sound a quarterback as there is in the NFL – both before and after the snap. His ability to read defenses and anticipate where the throw will go before stepping under center gives him a clear advantage on every down. Once in the pocket, his ability to keep a balanced, solid base – even in the face of a pass rush – is an example for young quarterbacks to follow.

Thomas runs the alley better than anyone in the NFL, making him a strong support safety against the run. His ability to move downhill while coming inside-out to track the near number of the ball-carrier puts him in position to make tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. When playing the middle of the field in pass coverage, his exceptional vision and break to the ball allow him to eat up space and get to the receiver while the throw is still in the air.

Ryan excels at the Aussie drop, controlling the spin of the ball off his foot to dictate distance. This allows him to kick the ball from different angles in order to control how the ball bounces. Through an excellent feel for leg swing to control ball placement, he helps his team win the field position battle.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, educates more youth and high school football coaches combined than any organization in the United States. Its members reside in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

“Young players can learn exemplary fundamentals by watching Earl and Jon play their positions,” said Carl Peterson, USA Football’s chairman and longtime NFL executive who helped select the team. “Fans from across the country came to our Facebook page to honor them as All-Fundamentals Team captains and we’re pleased to announce this exciting news.”

The USA Football All-Fundamentals Team was assembled with guidance from a five-person selection committee:

CHARLES DAVIS, USA Football spokesperson, football analyst for NFL Network and FOX Sports

HERM EDWARDS, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL head coach

MERRIL HOGE, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL running back

CARL PETERSON, USA Football chairman, former NFL team executive and assistant coach

BILL POLIAN, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL general manager

More on past USA Football All-Fundamentals Team players’ techniques is available at:

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Offense:

Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Broncos

Running back: Matt Forte, Bears

Fullback: John Kuhn, Packers

Wide receiver: Golden Tate, LionsReggie Wayne, Colts

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Tackle: Jason Peters, EaglesJoe Thomas, Browns

Guard: Zack Martin, CowboysMarshal Yanda, Ravens

Center: Ryan Kalil, Panthers

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Defense:

End: Cameron Wake, DolphinsSheldon Richardson, Jets

Tackle: Gerald McCoy, BuccaneersKyle Williams, Bills

Linebacker: Khalil Mack, RaidersLuke Kuechly, PanthersTamba Hali, Chiefs

Cornerback: Vontae Davis, ColtsTerence Newman, Bengals

Safety: Ryan Clark, RedskinsEarl Thomas, Seahawks

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Special Teams:

Return specialistJacoby Jones, Ravens

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals

Punter: Jon Ryan, Seahawks

Long snapper: Cullen Loeffler, Vikings