Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Dec 2011

Pro Bowl Rosters Announced

Not a lot of surprises or gifts on the rosters this year. Tim Tebow's presence had been threatened, but he's not on the list. Neither is Cam Newton, who had a much stronger case. The cornerbacks (Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson) probably got in on reputation more than anything else, but stuff like that will happen every year.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 28 Dec 2011

132 comments, Last at 04 Jan 2012, 4:21am by BaronFoobarstein


by Independent George :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:33am

I was going to object to 2011 version of Philip Rivers, but then I looked at the rest of the AFC quarterbacks. Shaub would have been a lock if he stayed healthy, and the next-best QBs in the conference would be either Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco, or Andy Dalton.

It's not been a deep year for AFC quarterbacking.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:27am

Well, either Brady or Roethlisberger has a good chance of being in the Super Bowl, and the other one (or both, if neither team advances) probably will decline the invitation. So I think the AFC lineup could easily end up Rivers/Tebow/Dalton, especially if it's the Ravens who advance.

by Kal :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:24pm

Yeah, me too. I think I would have been more comfortable with Dalton. Rivers has had a just atrocious year by his standards. But who's left after him - Sanchez? Flacco? It's a wasteland of QB play in the AFC. It's sad, but Tebow might be like the 8th best QB in the AFC.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:49am

I've always found it a bit curious that the Pro-Bowl "starting" roster assumes an I-formation offense (two WR, 1 TE, 1 FB, 1 RB) when so few teams run that as their base offense. 3WR-1TE-1RB or 1WR-2TE-1RB are both utilized far more heavily--some teams don't even carry fullbacks on their roster--and yet there are only two TE spots, period, per side, and just 4 WR spots.

It's equally curious that the Pro-bowl insists on "starting"
a 4-3 defense, when the majority of teams in the league now run a 3-4. Basically, it makes it MUCH easier to get in as a defensive lineman than as a linebacker.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:55am

Ah yes, the starting 4-3 Pro Bowl defense. Clear snub because of that silliness = NaVorro Bowman. Honorable mention for starting-lineup-related silliness = Dashon Goldson as reserve at free safety because of passing-related need for extra ball-hawking DBs.

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:43am

Another snub from that silliness: JJ Watt, who has been wreaking offensive lines all season. But, since he was listed as a "DE" alongsides with Freeney or Allen, having "only" 6.5 sacks from his position looks poor.

by BRoss (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:08pm

JJ Watt gets listed as a "DE" while Justin Smith gets listed as "Interior Lineman?" They both essentially play the same position (3-4 DE) albeit the schemes are going to be different. Then again, Smith has the reputation and reputation is everything here. Watt should get consideration at interior lineman, but it's a tough field this year at "DT" anyways in the AFC but he has a much better chance at being a good reserve there.

by AB in DC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:17pm

Even worse is that there are only four reserves for all positions on the front seven. This hardly makes sense when QBs and RBs go three deep.

At a minimum there should be an equal number of roster slots for offense and defense, rather than the current 21-17 imbalance.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:00pm

The Pro Bowl could learn from Fantasy Football: One QB, one RB, one TE, two WR, and one RB/WR/TE Flex.

by greybeard :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:51am

Of the 49ers player Staley is the most surprising to me. Either there were not good tackles this year or he is better than the naked eye sees.
I am also surprised Chris Long did not make it.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:02am

To see Staley's value, watch deterioration in SF pass protection during Wk 14 ARI-SF after Staley got hurt. Had to roll protection towards him, and it seemed like Gore and Iupati didn't trust Boone at LT whatsoever (h/t Ben Muth).

by greybeard :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:53am

I am sure he is very good relative to Boone. No question ;). I think hehas not played well though. There is a reason 5 weeks into the season he said that "they did not suck" and this is before they gave up 9 sacks to ravens. He did not play well the first four weeks and in that game. That is 5 weeks out of 14. On top of that, he is never good at run blocking. I am surprised that he made to pro bowl, though I don't think there are many good tackles in NFC, which helps.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:44am

I'll say that he hasn't played at a Pro Bowl level, that's for sure. But, yeah, the caliber of competition at T in the NFC is underwhelming, so "starting LT on 12-3 team" player is likely to get the nod given the selection process.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:53am

I think Cam Newton should feel a little bit of a snub, although the certainty of getting ROY will probably assuage that a little. But I think he's had a better season than Eli. In fact, I would say all of the Panthers wins are directly attributable to him, and he's also responsible for some of their losses being as close as they were.

Thoughts on the CB's? Has Bailey been good this year, or is this a reputation election? (Haven't seen enough Denver to know...). I know that some folks in the Boston area media are grumbling that Arrington didn't get a nod...but I imagine it's tough to make the Pro-bowl when you're part of the last-ranked pass defense, especially if you're a zone corner. Of course, Woodson still made it, and his defense hasn't exactly been an unstoppable force...but that's probably a rep vote.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:33am

At the very least, he shouldn't be starting over Joseph.

by Mephisto :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:06am

I don't think Cam Newton has had a better season than Eli. That shouldn't matter since Romo has been better than both and should have been selected.

by TimK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:31am

Bailey seems to have been pretty good again this year, but the rest of the secondary has had so many problems in Denver it is hard to be sure how good. If there is always someone else open why bother passing towards the one quality player back there?

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:53am

Not in the Boston area, but a Patriots fan, and I am outraged that ANY Patriots playing defense have been sent to the Pro Bowl. You don't go to the Pro Bowl if your defense sucks the way it does. Wilkfor was nothing special this year, and Carter was non-existant during the first 8 games or so. Then he played, I think the Jets or the Chiefs, when he had that 4.5 sacks game and all of the sudden he reappeared in the picture as a good pass rusher. I don't think he makes the top 20 list in hurries+sacks this year if you compile it.

To have Arrington in the team as well, a guy who has been burned all year long and must have a success rate around 50%, just because he was lucky enough to pick 7 passes, would have been a travesty like Merriweather last year, or Jarius Byrd in 2009.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:18am

If you're a Pats fan, you should know the problems with the defense are primarily in the secondary. Both Wilfork and Carter have had excellent years, as had Mayo.

Arrington's not on the team. He's had a better season than McCourty, but I agree he shouldn't be on the team in any case.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:44pm

Mayo has most certainly not had an excellent year. He's been solid, nothing more. In fact, the LB drops are just a big a part of the pass defense issues as anyone in the secondary (frankly, the CBs are the least of the problems) and Mayo is a big part of it.

I like Jerod and feel he's going to be special, but he wasn't this year. The position change hasn't suited him very well.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 9:51am

Mayo's been fine this year.

Based on my observations. Ranked as if they all played full seasons:
1. Carter
2. Spikes
3. Wilfork
4. Mayo
5. Ninkovich
6. Arrington
7. Fletcher
8. Anderson
9. Deaderick
10. Chung

by Matthew Slater (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:28am

"... and I am outraged that ANY Patriots playing defense have been sent to the Pro Bowl."

Slater plays defence (sort of) and is a good special teamer

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:11pm

No, he's a gunner, he plays special teams.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:46pm

Carter was most certainly pro-bowl worthy. If you think otherwise, you weren't watching closely enough. I'll agree that Wilfork began the season slow, but the past 6-7 weeks he's been very good, good enough that his play combined with his recognition made the selection reasonable.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:36am

If you thikn Wilfork was "nothing special," you have no idea what you're watching.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 2:25pm

Please... let's just agree that you BOTH don't know what you're watching!

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:13pm

As far as Woodson being a rep vote, he has 7 picks this year. That's usually enough to get a CB to Hawaii.

Rep certainly helps him, but he was a bigger rep pick last year when he was selected (over more deserving teammate Tramon Williams) with only 2 picks.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:49am

Steelers-homer-centric thoughts:
- Ike Taylor had a better season than Champ Bailey and should have gotten in (Routt and Flowers would also be better choices than Bailey).
- I thought Antonio Brown earned a receiving spot, but I don't know the rules about multiple positions for one player. I also concede that I may be weighting towards more recent games in my brain.
- Maurkice Pouncey was pretty good, but not as good as last year. It's notoriously hard to judge o-line play without paying really close attention, and even harder to compare to teams you don't watch as much, but I suspect he shouldn't have gotten in this year.
- Brett Keisel had a great season, but a 3-4 end has quite an uphill battle. Again it's hard to compare these guys.
- People may scream about the absence of Harrison and Woodley. And yeah they're likely better players than any of the guys who did get voted in. But they were just out or playing hurt too much this season and didn't earn the selection.

- Anotonio Gates in yet another "Tight ends are just big wide receivers" selection.
- Tony Gonzalez, same deal.
- Ray Lewis? Really? Are you kidding me? It's been a few years since he's earned this guys. When does he stop getting in on reputation? Three years after retiring?
- Has Vince Wilfork had a good season? He's looked OK, but not pro-bowl to me. How about Geno Atkins?
- Yanda has been terrific. He should start over Mankins.
- Tyron Smith looked excellent in the few games I saw him play.
- Hasn't the chorus been that Raji has played poorly this year?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:43am

Lewis over Brian Cushing is incomprehensible. Cushing's been absolutely lights out this year.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:50am

People - usually either Steelers homers (or others who have an axe to grind against Baltimore) or the anti-Miami Hurricanes bunch - have been calling Ray Lewis washed up for a decade now. I suppose some year it might actually end up being true. Instead of bashing the guy, open up your eyes. We'll all be bragging to our grandchildren that we had the privlidge of watching Ray Lewis play.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:33am

Eh, I'm not saying he hasn't had a great career, but he has always gotten a lot of credit for the play of line in front of him and the saftey behind him. As for his play this year, head on over to youtube and watch Marshawn Lynch juke him off his pegleg and then run Ed Reed into the turf. This definately wasn't a year to send him to Hawaii.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 2:53pm

Have you watched Ray Lewis this year? Your claim that he should be left out is only based on the reputation older players have for declining. Lewis may have declined from his old self, but he is still easily a pro-bowl quality player

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 01/02/2012 - 9:58pm

Yes. Particularly later this year, he's losing one on one battles. Sometimes very badly. I wasn't joking. Go over to youtube, watch Marshawn Lynch humiliate him. Actually Lynch didn't even humiliate Lewis directly, he got Lewis to do it to himself. Lewis didn't have the presence of mind or strength of character to let someone in better condition and position to help his team on the field to make the plays he couldn't, vs Lynch. Not to mention the missed games.

Throw out the early season, and Ray Lewis looked around replacement level. Missed opportunities when his team had to have them against so called "bad teams", and a ton of missed time aren't Pro Bowl in anyone's book. Yeah, he's a great player; who had an "ok" year.

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:34am

Ray Lewis? Really? Are you kidding me? It's been a few years since he's earned this guys. When does he stop getting in on reputation? Three years after retiring?
Yes. This is the Mick Tingelhoff exception.

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:43am

Ray Lewis? Really? Are you kidding me? It's been a few years since he's earned this guys. When does he stop getting in on reputation? Three years after retiring?

Yes. This is the Mick Tingelhoff exception.

Sorry for the tag fail.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:21am

Ray Lewis was a weak choice, but there is no high-profile ILB in the AFC to take his place. Mayo is good but not quite good enough, and the overall Pats' defense is terrible. I would have thought perhaps one of the Jets would have gotten some consideration. Revis is the only Jet on the defense, and that doesn't seem quite right.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:31am

I'm not as down on Lewis as most appear to be, but I thought Karlos Dansby had an fairly outstanding year in my limited Miami watchings.

My biggest beef upon first glance is Brandon Marshall. It seems he drops more targets than he catches, and I don't even thing teams doubled him often (although I'll defer to a Dolphins fan there). Surely there must be somebody better. I'm not looking a stats right now, but possibly Dwayne Bowe? Stevie Johnson? Nate Washington? One of the Chargers giants?

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:28pm

I would have thought that, too, but Marshall's quietly had a good year. He does seem to drop so many, though - I think it's one of those situations where it elicits a "look how good he could be" reaction.

Top AFC WRs by DYAR:
Player ..| Trg | Rec | C% .| Yds .| DYAR | DVOA .| Pro bowl?
Welker ..| 162 | 116 | 72% | 1518 |. 483 | 25.1% | Yes
Wallace .| 109 |. 71 | 65% | 1182 |. 423 | 35.6% | Yes
Green ...| 106 |. 63 | 59% | 1031 |. 318 | 22.8% | Yes
Floyd ...|. 61 |. 36 | 59% |. 729 |. 281 | 47.8% | No
Jackson .| 110 |. 58 | 53% | 1077 |. 259 | 17.0% | No
Marshall | 134 |. 77 | 57% | 1177 |. 233 |. 9.4% | Yes

The only two non-pro-bowlers ahead of Marshall are Chargers; Floyd's raw numbers aren't good enough, and Jackson's catch rate is even lower than Marshall's (and both of their catch rates suffer from their QB forcing the ball their way downfield at times). I think Marshall's a fine selection.

by Led :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:31pm

Sione Pouha and Calvin Pace are the other two Jet defenders most deserving, particularly Pouha. He's been a monster against the run and even managed to collapse the pocket some on passing downs. Sadly, I haven't watched enough non-Jets games this year to have an intelligent opinion about whether those guys deserved to be picked over others on the team. I suspect a case can be made for Pouha.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson had a terrible year (for him) at LT this year, so I can't imagine there weren't more deserving options.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:41pm

Duane Brown had an excellent season. Not dominant, but he'd have been a plausible choice to my mind.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:43pm

Cushing's been breathtakingly good - the best player on a generally strong Texans defense. He's a major snub, to my mind.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:36pm

Yeah, I don't know how many Ravens games all the Ray Lewis bashers have watched, but I've seen all of them and he's really had an excellent year until he got injured. His weight has been down (except his first game back vs. SD), and he's been moving really well, his pass coverage has been much better than it has in recent years. Of course he's still unparalleled at diagnosing run plays and filling gaps between the tackles.

Also, he's the signal caller and organizer of the best defense in the league, you have to give him credit for putting guys in position and calling audibles that lead to successful plays, just like Brady and Manning get credit for reading the defenses and changing plays at the line of scrimmage.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:41am

As someone who is not a Ravens fan, but now lives around Baltimore, and has watched all of their games, I have to strongly disagree with your assesment that Lewis has been excellent.

The defense is better when hes off the field. Hes a liability.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:03pm

I think you both overstate it. He's been decent when in. But decent with several missed games doesn't exactly sound pro bowl to me.

by BJR :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:08pm

It's become fashionable to diss his annual Pro-Bowl berth but Lewis is still playing at a pretty high level. And the Baltimore defence definitely deserves good representation this year. There may be slightly more deserving candidates, but it's not a scandalous selection.

by Fielding Melish (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:03am

I'll be honest with you, I don't know how anybody can safely make the argument that 'So-and-So Had A Better Year Than..' unless you've been spending a lot of time in the film room or something. You may be right, about Bailey or whomever, but I sincerely doubt that you, or anybody else griping here, can really say any of this stuff as some sort of fact. You don't know. It's all subjective, and in the case of just about anybody who posts their two cents on this thing, it's shakily subjective at best. But then, it's the Pro Bowl, and who really cares anyway? I'd wager the players certainly don't, at least none who've ever gone to more than one, since half of them tend to bow out anyway.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:02am

A lot of players have monetary incentives to be voted to pro bowls. They don't have to play in them, but getting voted in is important.

by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:55am

For offensive linemen and most defensive players, Pro Bowls will have a bearing on Hall of Fame balloting as well. Obviously this will mean little to the majority of players, but Ray Lewis' total Pro Bowl appearances will certainly be touted when he's eligible. Of course, he's getting in no matter what, but it's on his resume.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:09pm

You say that as if Ray Lewis getting into the Hall of Fame is somehow a bad thing.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 6:01pm

I most certainly wouldn't vote him in. The instructions are to consider only on field performance. But the nice thing about a jury system is you get to ignore that. On field performance only, yes Ray Lewis should get in easy. But if you don't stick your head in the sand, then I think its pretty easy to view him being in as a "bad thing." I wouldn't vote OJ Simpson in if he came up for selection today, and if Rae Carruth hypothetically has Jerry Rice's career I wouldn't vote him in either.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 2:59pm

You really love judging people, huh?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 4:54pm

Yes. I love judging people against the harsh rubric of my controversial "no murder" stance.

If judging people bothers you, I suggest that a thread on pro bowl selections, which are entirely about making judgments of people, might not be your cup of tea.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/02/2012 - 1:34pm

Except that Ray Lewis didn't actually murder anybody.

Granted, he did not conduct himself in an exemplary manner that night - to say the least - BUT by all appearances that night scared him straight. For a DECADE he has been a legitimate role model.

Most people don't change their ways. I don't know Ray Lewis personally. All I know is Ray Lewis the public figure. But from all appearances, Ray Lewis IS a model citizen and has been for a decade.

It's one thing to do it for a couple weeks, a couple months, even a couple years. But by the time you've gone a decade and had not even so much as a whisper said about you, I think at that point it's time to suggest that maybe this individual genuinely did rehabilitate himself and the perhaps mistakes he made as a manchild in his early 20s no longer accurately represent the adult he became.

We in America talk all the time of second chances. Most of the time it's just pissing in the wind. In the case of Ray Lewis, maybe it's a case of an exceptional person being the exception.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 01/02/2012 - 10:09pm

You'll get no argument from me about rehabilitation and changing your ways. Those are commendable things. But they do not undo the original crimes. The Hall of Fame is meant to be an honor, and however much he has changed, those actions in his youth have made him undeserving of being honored.

by Dean :: Tue, 01/03/2012 - 9:55am

But what actually WERE those crimes?

You specifically called him a murderer, and while we don't know a whole lot, we do know that he did not actually murder anybody, which to me puts your objectivity on this topic squarely into question.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 01/04/2012 - 4:21am

blank comment

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 3:00pm

Great name, Fielding Melish!

But remember that a lot of us have NFL Rewind, and we can and do watch a lot of film on a lot of teams

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:36am

As a Colts fan, if you were going to let one Colts player in it should have been Pat McAfee. He has had an excellent year.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 7:10pm

Certainly no team in the league has been more in need of a good punter. Arguably, he could be in the MVP discussion.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:37am

Pleasantly surprised by the AFC quarterback picks; I didn't think Rivers would beat out Tebow. Also good to see both New Orleans guards get in. Gore over Marshawn Lynch is a colossal joke if you've watched the games this year. I say that as a die-hard Niners fan. Gore's banged up and hasn't made anybody miss in seven weeks. The pick's only defensible if you just look at their raw stats. NFC WRs are right except they put in the wrong Packer. AFC WRs are solid; good to see AJ Green not get a rookie snub.

by Thok :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 8:30am

Gore over Lynch (or Matt Forte over Lynch) would have been defensible at the halfway point in the season. Through week 6 Lynch wouldn't even be in consideration for the Pro Bowl. Since the Lynch has been at another level, but the early season sucking won't help him in the voting.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:37am

The change hasn't been Lynch. He seems to be running with a little better vision than last year. The improvement in his numbers has been the offensive line, which has (in 2 years) gone from unspeakably bad to the fair side of poor.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:03pm

True. I also don't know when the voting takes place. If most of the votes were cast before the SF-SEA game that would have hurt Marshawn's chances.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:32am

How many players (afc and nfc combined) will end up not playing in the pro bowl this year? My guess is 30+.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:47am

Actually, somewhere around 2100 or so if you include practice squad and injured reserve.

If your point was that the pro bowl is watered down, then sure, you're not really wrong, per se. But even as watered down as it is, these are still roughly the top 5% or so of the league.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:56am

I think the idea is that of the players selected, 30 or so won't be playing either due to injury or advancing to the Super Bowl.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:39pm

Yes, but those 30 or so will be replaced by 30 or so alternates and there'll still be roughly 5% of the league represented.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:20pm

Dean, you missed the point in spectacular fashion.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:43am

Then perhaps you can elaborate. 'Cause whatever the point was, I'm still missing it.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:59am

The point is that many of the actual deserving pro bowlers drop out, leaving a very watered-down on-field product.

Citing the number of pro bowl participants as a percentage of total NFL players doesn't really refute that. The pro bowl is supposed to be the very best, not the second-tier.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 3:10pm

Dean made an intelligent answer that was exactly correct, based on how evenchunkiermonkey's question was written. Yes, perhaps monkey MEANT to ask how many players would choose to decline to play, or miss it due to super bowl or injury. But that isn't what he asked. He asked "how many players would not play in the pro bowl."

IF anything, monkey asked the wrong question "in a spectacular fashion."

by Dean :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:44am

It's hard to say there is a legitimate snub on a 2-13 team, but Chris Long has 13 sacks, and ulike Babin he can actually play the run.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 2:47pm

Yeah, Babin going to the Pro Bowl is generally infuriating. I guess even his AFC mirror Dwight Freeney got in, so the voters genuinely don't give a shit about a player being actively awful against the run...

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 01/01/2012 - 3:08pm

Voters genuinely don't have the ability to judge a defender's lack of impact against the run. Voters see tackles, and they really see sacks. They lack the sensibility to see what could have happened.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:00am

Hey, I'm as big a Von Miller fan as you'll find, but Tamba Hali is hands down the best pass rusher in the AFC.

Cam Newton feels like a snub to me.

Champ Bailey has been good. Although not shutdown anymore he's still top-10 in the league which is about good enough for a pro bowl, even though if Flower, Routt or Taylor had been picked, I would argue that either.

Dwight Freeney and Andre Carter? Is that really the best the AFC can do?

by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:24am

Carter benefited from having a great game or two on national TV. Freeney is still good. Who else is there? Jason Taylor is long in the tooth. Mario Williams got hurt early.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:36pm

It was my weird way of saying it's a very lean year for AFC DE.

Even in that regard, its incredible that a totally one-dimensional player like Freeney can get in with only 7.5 sacks.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:39pm

Williams wasn't playing end anyway. JJ Watt and Antonio Smith have both been outstanding, but both are 3-4 ends, which makes it tough for them to get to Hawaii.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:35am

Also worth noting that both kickers and punters are from the Bay-area teams. Must be something in the atmosphere over there.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:00pm

Except that there isn't...it's the opposite. Both kickers play in outdoor (no dome) stadiums known for having, cool, moist air. And in the case of San Francisco at least, the stadium is noted for having very shifty and unpredictable winds, or at least so I've heard, sitting as it does right on the bay (I've certainly sailed there and will vouch for that).

Cooler air is denser and applies more drag. So balls don't travel as far. Same thing for moister air. To the point where both bay area baseball teams are viewed as being strongly pro-pitcher/defense, because (in part) balls tend to not carry and fly well here. (Part of that also is that the Coliseum has huge foul territory, but I digress).

If you were really looking at a "something in the atmosphere" effect, we would expect Denver to send kickers to the Pro-bowl every year.

Now, it is true that we don't get the icy cold winters that Buffalo/New England/Green Bay/Denver, etc. get. And cold certainly affects things other than air drag...a cold ball is harder and less elastic, and hence is harder to kick far (look how touchbacks have dropped off as the season went on). But if this were a dominating effect on making a kicker a pro-bowler, we would expect San Diego and Arizona, with their lack of winter and warm dry air to be sending kickers every year. Or dome teams.

I think the simpler explanation is just that (1) Both bay area teams are run-first teams with good punters and have terrible red zone offenses, so they kick a lot of FG's, and (2) both teams play on grass, which probably helps the punters.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:05pm

Not postive, but I think your sarcasm detector might be broken.

by grady graddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:31pm

I don't think there's a ton of validity to saying the Raiders have terrible red zone offense. They're above average in TD's per red zone attempt, and while Oakland is tied for 10th in the NFL in field goal attempts, they're tied for 27th in attempts under 40 yards. They're just confident in Janikowski, who leads the league in attempts over 40 yards and who has missed only four attempts total - blocked from 49 and 65, off the crossbar from 58 and wide from 54 off the infield dirt. He's also fared pretty well on kickoffs if you account for his playing through injury (which affected the 49-yarder that was blocked as well). Seabass is finally just getting his due.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:06pm

Raji is about as deserving as Bryant Mckinnie was in 2009, which is to say not deserving at all. If those are above average performances, Tom Brady has no appeal to beautiful women.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:14pm

Simply more evidence that the Pro Bowl is a lagging indicator for performance on the field, especially at the non-QB/RB/WR positions. I felt Raji was snubbed last year, but he definitely did not deserve to go this year.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:56pm

Okay, I know Tebow was only voted 2nd alternate, but come on - the Pro Bowl is supposed to be solely about individual performance, and based on his stats Tebow probably shouldn't even be allowed to watch the Pro Bowl on TV. The most valid argument for Tebow being a good QB - that he "just wins games" - is irrelevant when it comes to the Pro Bowl.

If Tebow's worthy of a Pro Bowl, even as an alternate, then Rex Grossman should have gone to one in 2006.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:00pm

While the TV bit made me chuckle, the Grossman bit is wrong-headed. I'm guessing in 2006 that McNabb, Favre, Warner, Bulger, Hasselbeck, Culpepper, Delhomme, and Manning were all better than Grossman.

Tebow is competing with guys like Flacco, Fitzpatrick, Dalton, Moore, and Hasselbeck.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:19pm

Actually, it's not that wrong-headed. Among the QBs you mentioned:

McNabb only played ten games, though he was good in those ten. Jeff Garcia famously finished the season for the Eagles.

Favre had a pretty "meh" season for an 8-8 Packers team (18 TDs, 18 picks), though it was expected to be his last season.

Warner only started five games, having been replaced by Matt Leinart.

Bulger did make the Pro Bowl. He had a good season, in general.

Hasselbeck had an OK season, though he only played twelve games.

Culpepper only played four games.

Delhomme had an OK season, but nothing special.

Eli Manning also had an OK season.

It's not that Grossman was any good (he was definitely worse than all but Culpepper and Warner), but that the NFC was also in a down year for QBs, so the analogy to Tebow, along the "he just wins" line, isn't too bad.

For the record, the NFC Pro Bowl QBs that year were Brees, Bulger, and Romo.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:27pm

Somehow you forgot Brees.

Looking at the 2006 stats, I see that Grossman had a negative DVOA.

But then, looking at the 2011 stats, I see that Tebow has an even worse DVOA. His numbers put him in the company of such luminaries as John Beck, Vince Young, and Tyler Palko.

Somewhere, this discussion is making Kyle Orton's head explode.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:45pm

I didn't forget him...I thought he was still with the Chargers, and I couldn't remember if Romo was the Cowboys starter yet.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 7:16pm

His point was that Tebow is utterly incapable of competing with guys like Hasselbeck, Flacco, and Dalton. He is,rather, in competition with Blaine Gabbert for the Ryan Leaf award, given to the worst starting quarterback drafted in the first round. Gabbert is the better passer, Tebow has better knowledge of Leviticus.

And Rex Grossman was better THIS YEAR than Tebow.

by JIPanick :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 12:44pm

That's ridiculous. Stop ignoring Tebow's rushing stats and his impact on McGahee (Seriously, washed up 31-yo WILLIS MCGAHEE has putting up AP numbers since Tebow went in. That is NOT a coincidence.)

Sometimes the passing-stats-are-the-only-measure-of-QB-play crowd can be as irrationally dogmatic as the wins-are-the-only-measure-of-QB-play crowd.

by Dan :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:21pm

Pro Football Focus has a list of the least deserving Pro Bowlers based on their grading system, led by BJ Raji and Davin Joseph whose grades are well into the negatives (grade of 0=average, great players have at least +15 or so though it varies by position). Here's the full list with their grades:

OG Logan Mankins +0.4
OT Jake Long +4.4
OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson +4.5
C Maurkice Pouncey +1.8
DT Vince Wilfork +4.8

FB John Kuhn -1.4
OT Joe Staley -1.0
OT Jermon Bushrod +6.6
OG Davin Joseph -5.9
DT BJ Raji -15.6
OLB Lance Briggs +5.2
CB Charles Woodson -2.2
CB Charles Tillman +4.4

by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:33pm

Good link. Thanks.

by CoachDave :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:03pm

That was a great, right-on-the-money article.

Raji has lost playing time this year...how does that stiff get to Hawaii?

Mankins, Pouncey, Joseph, Woodson...these are picks that only a Peter King fan would love.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 5:19pm

Raji doesn't deserve a Pro Bowl spot, but it's disingenuous to say that he's "lost" playing time this year.

Raji played something like 90% of all defensive snaps last year, which is absurd for a DT, especially a 3-4 NT. This season his playing time has been reduced in an attempt to improve his effectiveness which still playing a relatively high number of snaps. It isn't because GB has better players more deserving of playing time.

Now, Raji hasn't been particularly good, even with a reduced snap count, but it's not like he's going to be benched any time soon.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 5:24pm

I'm pretty sure Tillman got a lifetime achievement award during a down year for NFC corners.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:35am

Yeah, I like him but I was surprised to see his name on the list. I haven't looked at the stats but my perception is that he didn't force as many turnovers as usual and that he got burned on some big plays this year.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:00am

He also had the very visible game in which he shut down Calvin Johnson. I recall a bit of minor buzz after that, especially along the lines of "Tillman's never been to a pro bowl?!" I suppose that worked in his favor, as well.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:46am

When Pro Football Focus can consistently figure out who is actually on the field, and not give stats to players who were on the injury report, I'll give their ratings more credibility.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:01pm

To all you Vince Wilfork bashers out there...he does lead all nose tackles in both INT's and INT return yards ... :-)

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 10:17am

and snaps. Gotta give the guy big ups for being on the field as often as he has. That must be considered when evaluating his performance this year.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:05pm

Since we're still around Festivus, I'll air one grievance: When is the Pro Bowl going to get rid of its outdated fullback slot? Teams still use fullbacks, but it's less of a position these days, and more of a role that different players, be they big backs, tight ends or defensive tackles, can fill on different plays. There's no Pro Bowl slot for wingback either.

by IAmJoe :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 3:54pm

CTRL+F: "Stafford"

65 comments, and no one has mentioned Stafford yet? Obviously Brees and Rodgers are going in the NFC, and I'd probably be okay with Newton getting the nod ahead of Stafford, just in recognition of what an incredibly ridiculous rookie year the guy has put up, but Eli?

Manning: 335/556 (60.3%, 8.3 YPC),4587 yds, 26 TD, 16 INT
Stafford: 385/604 (63.7%, 7.5 YPC), 4518 yds, 36 TD, 14 INT

Sure, Stafford has more pass attempts, but he's 3.4% higher completion percentage, only 69 fewer yards, 10(!) more TDs, and 2 fewer INTS (which is a huge surprise to me).

Give Stafford the love, man. I'm crossing my fingers that this isn't a career year for him, and just the start of things to come, but if it is, he sure ought to get the recognition for it over Eli frickin' Manning.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:13pm

Eli was probably the least deserving of the third slot among the numerous NFC quarterbacks who were having legitimate pro-bowl-type seasons. Stafford had a great year, but so did Newton, Romo, and Ryan. You could have picked any of them over Eli, so I don't think anyone sees it as a particular snub for Stafford. If Stafford keeps playing at this level (big if), he's got multiple pro bowls in his future.

by greybeard :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:35pm

Calvin Johnson is pro bowler. Maybe voters thought that would be enough to represent Stafford's success.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 7:19pm

I think Calvin Johnson basically IS Stafford's success. I watched Eli Manning and Stafford this year, and I know who threw more good passes.

by Dan :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:37pm

Manning, Romo, Stafford, Ryan, and Newton were all really close together this year, and any one of them would have been a reasonable choice. Two weeks ago Manning had a strong case for being the best of that group (then he had two of his worst games of the season), and a lot of the voting happened before then. Right now the advanced stats pretty clearly point to Romo, who is tops in the group in DYAR, DVOA, ANY/A, and WPA, and within 6 points of the lead in EPA.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 4:38pm

Of those stat lines I'd take Eli. .8 YPA over a season is pretty big.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:32pm

Stafford has to throw to fake a running game, so he loses a lot of ypa on quick screens and passes to the flat to simulate the running game Detroit doesn't have.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 7:03pm

Mike Tanier had an astute comment regarding Stafford in last week's Matchups. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of people overlooking Stafford because they figure that all his TD's are one-pinky grabs by a leaping Calvin Johnson against triple coverage, when in fact only 14 of them are.

by JIPanick :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:06pm

Both are clearly inferior choices to Romo at this point. Stop whining and enjoy your playoff spot.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:37am

How can they be inferior to Romo considering how many games Romo has blown this year? You don't deserve to be a Pro Bowler if you pretty much single-handedly lose games in which you have a 20 point advantage.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:38am

Right, the blocked punt against NYJ was Romo's fault, as were the two fluky interception returns against Detroit and the last second Calvin Johnson touchdown. The defensive meltdown against the Giants (you know, cancelling out the best losing QB effort ever), that was his fault too, for not having trained himself to play linebacker next to Sean Lee (speaking of Pro Bowl snubs).

With Stafford at the helm, Dallas wouldn't even have had those leads to blow. Additionally, they probably would have lost two out of three to SF, WSH#2, and MIA I see no reason to believe any informed individual with no emotional or financial stake in the Lions thinks Stafford should have been in over Romo.

by IAmJoe :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:26pm

I checked the numbers real quick to make sure I wasn't totally off-base before I took this on, and frankly, I'm absolutely stunned that Romo only has 9 INTs this year. Good for him.

Fortunately for me and AZ here, he put a third of them up in that game vs DET. You can call the returns flukes if you want (they weren't any more fluke-y than most other INT returns), and both pick-sixes were made off of fantastic plays by DET defenders (Carpenter making the biggest jump he's ever made in his life, and Houston making a fantastic play on the slant). That said, they were both dangerous throws, and the third pick of the day was just a bad one on Romo, letting the Lions back in to finish the comeback, sailing one high over the middle. It was a wide-coverage game on FOX, it was just a couple weeks after he completely blew the NYJ game on SNF, and it all played right into a well-deserved (historically, though it looks like he's been much better about it this year after the Lions game) reputation for making stupid mistakes at bad times.

And in fact, I'm going to point out, there was no last-second Calvin Johnson TD in that DET game - there was a 3.5 minute drive, starting from around 4:10 left in the 4th to 1:40 left in the 4th, where Megatron scored. Notably, that drive was started by... A very bad Romo INT! You can wave your hands about the defense all you want, and you're right that they did have a chance to stop DET and preserve the lead, but they shouldn't have been in that position, with Romo having the ball at his 20, with a 3 point lead, with 4:22 left. You're being disingenuous with the NYJ game too - sure, Romo didn't let them tie the score at 24, but he damn sure served it the game up on a silver platter with an astonishingly stupid INT to Revis with a minute left to give NYJ the chance to win.

If you want to characterize the NFC #3 QB battle as a large tie between Ryan, Romo, Stafford, Manning, and Newton, that's fine, but shitting the bed on national TV multiple times is a good way to make sure you're not going to get the not out of a pack of similar performances.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 7:16pm

They aren't "similar performances", Romo laps the field.

The INT returns absolutely were flukes. A certain, small percentage of interception returns will be run back for scores. I don't know exactly how many, but it sure as death and taxes ain't 67%. Ergo, although Romo did throw some bad passes, he also got extremely unlucky.

"You can wave your hands about the defense all you want, and you're right that they did have a chance to stop DET and preserve the lead, but they shouldn't have been in that position..."

Darn right they shouldn't. With an average QB (This is me resisting the urge to add "like, say, Stafford") they wouldn't have had a lead to protect. Romo giveth, and although he occasionally also taketh away the defense should still be able to get a stop with the game on the line. Was the second half of the Detroit game bad? Yes. Did he blow it single handed? Not even close.

"...well-deserved (historically, though it looks like he's been much better about it this year after the Lions game) reputation for making stupid mistakes at bad times."

Watch less ESPN and more football. Going into this year, Romo's record in late and close was not significantly different from Aaron Rodgers - that holds with both late and trailing as well as late and leading. Obviously, Rodgers has improved this year, but do you consider Rodgers as having a "historically well deserved" reputation as a choke artist? As far as the Jets game, Romo did most of the work building that lead and less than half of blowing it.

I also have a hard time believing an informed individual would be "absolutely stunned" Romo has only 9 picks in 14 games, given that's how many he had in 16 the last time he was healthy. I understand not being familiar with every player not on your favorite team, but come on. At least have the decency not to shred the guy without doing some basic fact checking.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 2:02am

Two things:

Rodgers has had, what, two close&late games this year? How has that affected his totals at all?

Considering Romo has spent much of his time on national television throwing a series of a poorly considered INTs and generally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it's easy to miss how well he's done in the Cowboys less visible games.

by JIPanick :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 12:50pm

That's actually possible (That Rodgers late & close numbers have remained stable, I mean). I just decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since I didn't feel like taking the time to check the boxscores.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 10:22am

How could Romo possibly be an All-Pro when his coach won't even entrust the ball to him in 4th qtrs?

He's not an All-Pro, he's a game-surrendering mistake waiting to happen.

by JIPanick :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 12:50pm

"How could Romo possibly be an All-Pro when his coach won't even entrust the ball to him in 4th qtrs?"

*I never said he was or should be All-Pro, I said he should have been the #3 Pro Bowler in the NFC.

*Garrett has been using Romo aggressively late in every game except the Patriots loss, so I am not quite sure where you are coming from.

*Just to cover the outlier, the Patriots game was an overreaction by a very poor gameday coach to the Lions game.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2011 - 6:57pm

Just because Jones orders Garrett to call 4th quarter pass plays doesn't mean Garrett feels any more confident in Romo.

And really, why should he?

by JasonK :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:04am

The reasonable defense of Eli Manning in this instance is that he's done it with very little help from the run game (which is pretty awful), the defense/STs (few short fields), and a very inconsistent OL. To the extent that the Giants win, it's in the hands of Eli and the talented-but-young-and-often-mistake-prone receivers. It's very clear in every Giants game that he's the best guy out there on the offense (and often on the whole field).

(That said, the reason he gets pro bowl votes probably has more to do with "woo, 4th quarter comebacks!")

by lionsbob :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:31am

Stafford has gotten very little from his running game as well....and the OL is pretty much inconsistent.

Stafford with gloves/broken finger: 8 TDs to 10 INTs. Stafford without gloves/healthy finger: 28 TDs to 4 INTs.

by Adamantine (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:53am

4th quarter comebacks as a justification? Stafford set a record for number of 4th quarter comebacks with a deficit of 13 points or more in a season.

Stafford's run support is near the bottom of the league as well.

Stafford's problem was a broken index finger on his throwing hand, which is the cause of his 4 game stretch of some bad INT's and rather average overall play.

by greybeard :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:54am

I think it is a fair point that his production was affected by injury. But pro-bowl selection is (or rather should be) about production and if a player had bad production due to injury that affects his chances to go to pro-bowl.

Also your qualification of the 4th quarter comebacks with adding deficit or 13 points or more is kinda strange. How do you know he leads that? I have never seen any stats site keep track of that. How many did he have? I saw that he had 3 overall comebacks, were they all from 13 points deficit? Curious, do you know how many Eli had? Also how many times can 49ers, Steelers, Ravens, Texans QBs come from 13 point 4 quarter deficit given that they are allowing ~15 its per game? Around half of the league is averaging 20 points allowed per game, really hard to come back from 13 points deficits when your team is not allowing that many points.

by JIPanick :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:04pm

"Tim Tebow's presence had been threatened, but he's not on the list. Neither is Cam Newton, who had a much stronger case."

I call shenanigans. Newton was clearly weaker than Rodgers, Brees, and Romo (let alone Eli and Stafford), whereas given Tebow's impact on the run game I don't think you can with absolute certainty the 2011 edition of Rivers was superior. Newton had the better year, but he's up against NFC competition rather than the much weaker AFC.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:48pm

Just saw that Chris Kemouatu is an alternate at guard. WTF? He's the worst starting lineman on one of the worst lines in the league. He lost his starting job. He's got to be one of the worst guards in the NFL. What's that about?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:31am

Just typical fan ignorance vote.

1. Homer fans who pick all their teams players regardless. The Steelers are one of the most popular teams so they get higher totals.

2. "Kemoeatu, I've heard that name. It's unusual and I remember it so he must be pretty good. Don't recognize the other guys on the ballot."

3. "Kemoeatu, man he was a good player with the Ravens and the Panthers."

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 4:56pm

Count point 2 double when the guy who probably should have gone instead is called "Wade Smith".

by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 2:54pm

Yup. It's not just massive fanbase bias - Steelers and Cowboys famously have higher rates of Pro Bowl selections than other teams in the league because of their media presence and legacies. Same goes for HOF selections, which end up getting tied heavily to the Pro Bowl process

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:13pm

How much does fan voting count? If that explained it entirely I would expect deserving or borderline deserving cases like Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel, or Antonio Brown to get in rather than someone like Kemoeatu. Maybe I'm jumping a bit too far. It's not like he got voted in, he's just a third alternate, and maybe that's as far as fanbase bias takes you. I think Bones had a good theory in #2 above. It's a funny name you remember. One moment while I cast my vote for Pat Angerer.

by TomC :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:25pm

Only two thoughts, both of which have been at least hinted at by other posters:

1) I would be pissed if I were a Houston fan or player. Is there really not a single pro-bowler on the entire OL or defensive front 7? Especially galling compared to the reputation guys at OG (Mankins and Waters) and DE/DT (Freeney and Seymour).

2) The DE selections in both conferences are disappointingly correlated with sack totals (and not correlated with all-around play). No DE from an outstanding rush defense made it (unless you count J. Smith, who is listed as an interior defender), and NE and IND are both awful.

Oh, and I agree with the general sentiment about Peanut Tillman: he probably didn't deserve it this year, but it makes up for a long career of playing well and not being recognized.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 5:00pm

In answer to point 1: Cushing is the only really preposterous snub, but I think Wade Smith probably should have gone, and cases could be made for both DEs (which would also address your second point) and both OTs, and maybe Brian Cushing.

Really, though, both those Texans groups are about a lot of good players, not a few great ones. The only below average player out of those 12 is Shaun Cody at NT.