The NFL announced its pro-bowl rosters today. Fans are getting better at voting, there are only a few stupid selections this year: Jeff Saturday lost his starting job in Green Bay months ago, while Victor Cruz, LaRon Landry, and Robert Mathis are big names who have been average at best, certainly not at a pro-bowl level. The rest of the selections may not always be the best guys at their positions, but considering the pro-bowl is in large part a popularity contest, they’re good enough to where it’s hard to complain much about them.
I’m not picking any fullbacks, I like the two tight end look instead. On defense, since it’s difficult to separate the skills needed to play in a 4-3 vs. a 3-4, so I’m choosing players based on the role they play within their defense, rather than their position. Both teams would play a 3-4 base if we actually played this game.
I chose players from a combination of stats (FO/advanced stats wherever possible) and what I remember seeing them do on TV. For offensive linemen, since I don’t focus on the interior offensive line during many games, I looked at these stats and did the best guessing I could.
QB: Peyton Manning, Denver.
2nd Team: Tom Brady, New England.
Duh. I’d love to have a clever unorthodox pick to go here, but these two are the best in the NFL by a mile. Rather than risk injury they will sit out the game for one reason or another, and the Honorable Mention guys are the ones who might actually play: Matt Schaub, Houston, Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, or Andrew Luck, Indianapolis.
RB: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo.
2nd Team: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City, Ray Rice, Baltimore.
Playing in Buffalo is a sure way for a guy to be under-appreciated; Spiller has been incredible this year. He lost to Arian Foster in the real pro-bowl voting. Foster’s great, I love seeing him do his Namasté touchdown celebration. But if he’s looked good this year, Spiller’s been spectacular.
Remember that year when Jamaal Charles looked like the Tecmo Super Bowl version of Bo Jackson? The Chiefs had the best running back anybody’s seen in decades, yet inexplicably they kept handing off to Thomas Jones instead. Jones got 15 more carries than Charles (246 to 231), even though Charles was averaging almost twice as many yards per carry! Charles’ 2010 somewhat parallels what C.J. Spiller is doing this year; 2012 Spiller even has a slightly better average than 2010 Charles (6.48 yards/carry vs. 6.34). Those numbers are frightening. With one game to go, Spiller has 183 runs on the year. Between them, Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice have 157. If all 340 of the Bills’ hand-offs had been going to Spiller, he would have broken Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record in week 15.
I was surprised to learn that Arian Foster only has one truly great season under his belt. After playing six games in 2009 as a rookie, he blew it up in 2010, scoring 16 times and averaging five yards a pop. Ben Tate was actually more effective than him last year, when Foster was trying to play through nagging injuries more often than not. This year he’s been good, even above average. But he isn’t close to being one of the top three. You’re lucky you’re still popular, Arian!
WR: Andre Johnson, Houston, Demaryius Thomas, Denver.
2nd Team: A.J. Green, Cincinnati, Malcom Floyd, San Diego, Eric Decker, Denver.
Interestingly, Denver’s Brandon Stokley and San Diego’s Danario Alexander are 1-2 this year in DVOA, despite (or maybe because of) the limited roles they play on the field. Before the season, I thought the Broncos only signed Stokely because he was Peyton Manning’s friend. I was surprised when he made it on the team, let alone making it on the field. When he’s not making plays, he’s playing Dad, helping Thomas and Decker learn how to be pros, even when they get mad at him for doing it.
Honorable Mention: Stokely and Alexander, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, and Jacksonville’s Cecil Shorts.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England, Heath Miller, Pittsburgh.
2nd Team: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore, Brandon Meyer, Oakland.
Bill Belichick and many other great coaches have shown that you can never have too many great tight ends on your team.
Gronk is simply head and shoulders better than the rest of the field. Miller is having a career year, his numbers are identical to Tony Gonzalez this year. you may have heard of him. Honorable Mention: Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham, New York’s Dustin Keller..
T: Ryan Clady, Denver,
Duane Brown, Houston.
2nd Team: Nate Solder, New England, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York.
G: Logan Mankins, New England, Andy Levitre, Buffalo.
C: Mike Pouncey, Miami.
2nd Team: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
QB: Aaron Rogers, Green Bay.
2nd Team: Robert Griffin III, Washington, Russell Wilson, Seattle.
Aaron Rogers is still the best QB in the NFC, but maybe not for much longer. RGIII is already more fun to watch, and he’s probably the league’s most popular player as well.
The rookie of the year is going to be one of Griffin, Wilson, or Andrew Luck. You could pick any of the three and I wouldn’t argue with you, but I give the edge to Wilson. Griffin has played at a high level from week 1, and even though Russell started out slow, he’s improved quite dramatically. Today, with his teammates, playing in the Seahawks offensive system, he’s probably the most dangerous young QB in the league. Sure, he benefits some from having a strong team around him, but why should he be penalized because his team is good?
Griffin, in the Redskins offensive system, etc. (which the Shanahans brilliantly designed for him personally, from the ground up), gets my 2nd place vote. He has the highest overall potential of the three, and I feel confident that the Redskins will win at least one super bowl with him as their quarterback. One has to wonder, though, if he will begin to run the ball less often as his career progresses, and if so, will he lose the boost he’s giving the team’s running game right now? Would that mean he’s already at or near his ceiling? Or can his growth as a traditional passer surpass whatever advantage the team would lose if he didn’t scramble anymore?
Instead of carrying the ball less often, I’d like to see him get better at taking a hit. He might be the fastest player in the NFL, ever. How many other professional football players have qualified for the Olympics? Anyone? Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan, Atlanta, Drew Brees, New Orleans.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota.
2nd Team:Marshawn Lynch, Seattle, Frank Gore, San Francisco.
Everybody knows Peterson is making a serious run at Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. Peterson has been more of a boom/bust kind of player to get there than most star runners. The Vikings have no passing game to speak of, so defenses stack the box every down, and force a ton of runs to end less than two yards from the line of scrimmage. The thing is, when Peterson gets past that first level of (stacked) defenders, that doesn’t leave anybody to stop him from taking a 15-yard run to the house. I suspect that with a regular 7-man front, a defense could force the Vikings to try to string 10-15 plays together. Peterson could still move the chains a few times, but all the 3rd and shorts in the world won’t amount to many points if Ponder can’t convert them through the air.
I hope you’re not a Saints fan, because Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown in the playoffs is still one of the best runs in NFL history. I understand if it still hurts to think about. Let’s watch it again!
Honorable Mention: Washington’s Alfred Morris, Tampa’s Doug Martin, New Orleans’ Pierre Thomas.
WR: Calvin Megatron, Detroit, Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay.
2nd Team: Roddy White, Atlanta,
Dez Bryant, Dallas, Brandon Marshall, Chicago.
Calvin Johnson’s nickname is the greatest part of Roy Williams’ legacy.
There are a lot of deserving receivers this year, the bar was set pretty high. Nobody likes a guy who punches his own mom, but Bryant’s here for his football talent, not his winning personality. Honorable mention: Lance Moore and Marques Colston in New Orleans, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate in Seattle, Julio Jones in Atlanta, and Randall Cobb in Green Bay,
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta, Vernon Davis, San Francisco.
2nd Team: Anthony McCoy, Seattle, Logan Paulsen, Washington.
Gonzo is the Jerry Rice of tight ends, and Davis is supposedly the fastest player on his team. I’m going with McCoy and Paulsen as backups, since both have been very effective but underutilized by their teams. They represent the antithesis of Dallas’ Jason Witten, an aging star who’s been only moderately effective but gets big numbers thanks to the huge volume of passes thrown his way. Honorable Mention: Witten.
T: Trent Williams, Washington,
Joe Staley, San Francisco.
2nd Team:Russell O’Kung, Seattle,
Matt Kalil, Minnesota.
The 6’5″, 320 lb. Williams nicknamed himself “silverback,” so he got a sweet looking full-back tattoo of a gorilla.
G: Mike Iupati, San Francisco,
Evan Mathis, Philadelphia.
2nd Team:Josh Sitton, Green Bay,
Will Montgomery, Washington.
C: John Sullivan, Minnesota.
2nd Team: Max Unger, Seattle.
Interior Linemen: J.J. Watt, Houston,
Gino Atkins, Cincinatti,
Vince Wilfork, New England.
2nd Team: Kyle Williams, Buffalo
This is a mean looking fucking line right here with these fat guys.
ILB: Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh,
Wesley Woodyard, Denver.
2nd Team: Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville.
Honorable Mention: New England’s Jarod Mayo, Miami’s Karlos Dansby.
Pass Rushers (DE/OLB): Von Miller, Denver, Cameron Wake, Miami.
2nd Team:Elvis Dumerville, Denver, Tamba Hali, Kansas City,
Miller is so much more than just a pass rusher. Honorable Mention: Buffalo’s Mario Williams, San Diego’s Shaun Philips. I haven’t even heard of Justin Houston in Kansas City, or Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson, but their stats (10+ sacks) sound promising.
CB: Champ Bailey and
Chris Harris, Denver.
2nd Team: Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh,
Antonio Cromartie, New York.
Harris has been so good, the Broncos haven’t even activated incumbent Tracy Porter after recovering from his injury. Like Josh Wilson, Porter is a solid player who lost his job to an excellent one. Porter will have no problem catching on with another team next season, hopefully replacing DeAngelo Hall in Washington.
Honorable Mention: Houston’s Jonathan Joseph, Baltimore’s Cary Williams, Pittsburgh’s Keenan Lewis.
S: Jairus Byrd, Buffalo, Eric Weddle, San Diego.
2nd Team:Eric Berry, Kansas City, Reshad Jones, Miami.
AFC Special Teams
Kickers: Justin Tucker, Baltimore, Bryan Anger, Jacksonville.
Gunners Matt Slater, New England, Brendan Ayanbadejo, Baltimore.
Kick Returner: Jacoby Jones, Baltimore.
The Ravens’ special teams unit as a whole is one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 seasons.
Jacksonville drafted punter Bryan Anger in the 3rd round, a few picks before Seattle drafted QB Russell Wilson. They sure got a great punter, sure, so they got that going for them. Which is nice.
Interior Linemen: Henry Melton, Chicago, Justin Smith, San Francisco, Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay.
2nd Team: Brandon Mebane, Seattle, Calais Campbell, Arizona,
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia.
Somebody told me a long time ago that anyone who wears jersey #69 is guaranteed to be a piece of shit. Minnesota’s Jared Allen fits the bill, does Melton? I don’t know a thing about him off the field. But Melton is a big reason the Bears have one of the best defenses of the last 20 years.
Justin Smith is probably the most important player on San Francisco’s defense. Cox is one of the few players on the Eagles that scare me. Honorable Mention: Seattle’s Red Bryant, New York’s Linval Joseph.
ILB: Patrick Willis, San Francisco, Daryl Washington, Arizona.
2nd Team: London Fletcher, Washington, Navorro Bowman, San Francisco.
Washington is having a heck of a season, and believe it or not, the Cardinals have a very good defense. It’s their offense, particularly the quarterback, that stinks. Honorable Mention: Chicago’s Lance Briggs, Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, Tampa’s Lavonte David.
Pass Rushers (DE/OLB):
Aldon Smith, San Francisco,
Anthony Spencer, Dallas.
2nd Team: Chris Clemons, Seattle,
Clay Matthews, Green Bay.
Honorable Mention: Chicago’s Julius Peppers, Carolina’s Greg Hardy,
Atlanta’s John Abraham.
CB: Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, Seattle.
2nd Team: Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, Chicago.
As impressive as Chicago’s cornerback pair have been, I’m even more impressed by Seattle’s 6’4″ bookend corners. Check out this play Browner made:
Honorable Mention: Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, Green Bay’s Casey Hayward, Philadelphia’s Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, St. Louis’ Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins.
S: Donte Whitner, San Francisco, Earl Thomas, Seattle.
2nd Team: Kam Chancellor, Seattle, Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay.
Yep, Seattle’s entire secondary is on the team.Honorable Mention: New Orleans’ Roman Harper, New York’s Stevie Brown, Minnesota’s Harrison Smith.
NFC Special Teams
Kickers: Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis, Andy Lee, San Francisco.
Kick Returner: Devin Hester, Chicago.
Gunners: Lorenzo Alexander , Washington, Colin Jones, Carolina.
Since he’s been in the NFL, Lorenzo Alexander has played guard on the offensive line, all positions on the defensive line, as well as his current position of outside linebacker, and now made the pro bowl for playing special teams.He is a FOOTBALL PLAYER!