Is there an allotted period of time to talk about the Pro Bowl rosters after they have been released that’s “kosher”? If you follow me on Twitter at @nkearns12, you have probably had the displeasure of seeing a rant or two about the NFC Pro Bowl selections today, especially on the defensive side of the football. Ramblin’ Fan posted an article earlier in the day, dealing specifically with several of the defensive players that got a ticket to Hawaii, who was snubbed, and who was well deserving of the title of “Pro Bowler” for the 2013 season. Instead of continually debating the roster in social media or on various comment sections, we decided to throw our own Pro Bowl team together, laced with players that truly deserve the title for the production they have displayed this year. To keep the article relatively short, we will focus only on the NFC roster, one side of the football at a time. So, without further ado, here is Ramblin’ Fans’ 2013 NFC Pro Bowl Roster (Offense):
Actual: Aaron Rodgers* (Green Bay), Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Robert Griffin III (Washington)
Ramblin’ Fan: Aaron Rodgers* (Green Bay), Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Drew Brees (New Orleans)
Hard to argue against the season that Rodger is having and, barring the Packers making it to the Super Bowl, he will be the starter for the NFC at quarterback. Matt Ryan has been equally as impressive throwing to Roddy White and Julio Jones. Even with the run game bottoming out and a couple of dismal performance, Ryan still ranks in the Top 5 in the NFL in nearly every major passing category, with 4481 yards (5th), 31 TDs (5th), and 69.0 completion percentage (2nd, behind only Alex Smith, who is no longer a starter in the NFL).
The real grotesque pick comes with RGIII getting the nod over Drew Brees in the Pro Bowl. Someone please logically explain how the quarterback currently ranked 21st in passing yards and tied for 18th in passing touchdowns is in the Pro Bowl. Even worse, explain how the quarterback that is currently leading the NFL in both of those categories is not…
Some will point to the large discrepancy in interceptions between the quarterbacks or the difference in their teams records. My answer: Drew Brees doesn’t play defense, and when you are playing comeback in most games and are relied on to throw more than 25.0 passes per game, you tend to have a couple more interceptions. Griffin has been impressive, but more so as a dual-threat back than an actual quarterback. Cam Newton put up 706 yards on the ground and 14 rushing touchdowns last season, on top of finishing with 4051 yards passing (10th) and 21 touchdowns (T-12th). He did not make the original 2012 Pro Bowl roster; neither should Griffin in 2013.
Actual: Adrian Peterson* (Minnesota), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Frank Gore (San Francisco)
Ramblin’ Fan: Adrian Peterson* (Minnesota), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Doug Martin (Tampa Bay)
No sense in arguing against the selections of Peterson and Lynch, and that is coming from St. Louis, where we aren’t too fonder of either player right now. It is also tough to exclude a player like Frank Gore, who has been under-appreciated on a mediocre team for a majority of his career, much like our beloved Steven Jackson. Still, although Gore headlines the 49ers’ rushing attack, the Wests’ top ranked team relies pretty heavily on a multiple running back system, or at least they did before the Colin Kaepernick takeover. Either way, two rookies have truly played lights out this season, and both deserve the spot over Gore this year. Although Morris technically has more yards on the ground, Doug Martin has been a beast for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, racking up 1766 yards for scrimmage this season, trailing only Adrian Peterson in the category. He is averaging 4.5 yards per rushing attempt and 10.1 yards per reception, and trails only Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch in total touchdowns among running backs, with 11 rushing/receiving this season. Wouldn’t take much to convince me to swing towards Alfred Morris, but both deserve it overly the veteran this year.
Actual: Calvin Johnson* (Detroit), Brandon Marshall* (Chicago), Julio Jones (Atlanta), Victor Cruz (New York)
Ramblin’ Fan: Calvin Johnson* (Detroit), Brandon Marshall* (Chicago), Dez Bryant (Dallas), Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay)
I am not one to bash a great story like Victor Cruz, especially after the E60 special on his upbringing. Even with his amazing season, his ticket to Hawaii was stamped on the fumes of last season and his massive following the the Big Apple. Dez Bryant has come on as of late, but then again so has Tony Romo’s consistency in the passing game; or should I say, lack of consistency in the interception-game. Either way, Bryant has compiled 1311 yards this season, with eight 80+ yard games, including back-to-back 145 yard performances against the Browns and Redskins in the middle of the season, and trails only James Jones in touchdown receptions, with 12 on the season. Julio Jones is the second best player on his own team, and outside of touchdowns, trails Roddy White in every major receiving statistic….
Vincent Jackson might be the only player in the Top 10 wide receivers without an All-Pro caliber quarterback, and still has put up some of the best statistics of his career. Jackson has 1334 yards (4th in the NFL), 8 receiving touchdowns (T-11th), and leads the league with 19.3 yards per reception. His reception totals are not necessarily on par with the rest of the leaders on the top of the chart, but it isn’t how often you get the ball, it is more about what you do once the ball is in your hands. That opens the door for players like Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Percy Harvin, but Vincent Jackson has all of the other number to back up the lower reception rate.
Actual Tackles: Joe Staley* (San Francisco), Russell Okung* (Seattle), Trent Williams (Washington)
Ramblin’ Fan Tackles: Joe Staley* (San Francisco), Matt Kalil* (Minnesota), Russell Okung (Seattle)
For starters, logic would suggest that at least one of the offensive tackles on the roster should start on the right side of the offensive line, but, for the most part, the premier tackles protect the quarterback’s blind side. Russell Okung is the “sexy” pick, playing for the newly anointed media-hub of Seattle, in front of Russell Wilson and Marshawk Lynch. On one hand, he is second among qualifying offensive tackles with 12 penalties this season. On the other, he is the only offensive tackle with 800+ snaps to not allow a sack this season. However, a big part of the number has to do with the elusiveness of Russell Wilson. Matt Kalil, like Okung, is in blocking in front of a premier running back, although there still a wide gap between Peterson and Lynch in terms of yards. The difference between the two is the caliber and style of quarterback; enter Christian Ponder. Ponder is as stagnate a quarterback as their is the NFL, save Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, and yet, Kalil has only allowed 1 sacks, 2 hits, and 18 hurries this season. Ponder has +81 passing attempts on Wilson (roughly 3 games worth of passes), so Kalil being +1 on sacks and +4 on hurries versus Okung is more than understandable. Kalil gets the nod as the starter, and Trent Williams is off the list completely… Really Trent? Giving up 4 sacks when you essentially have a running back in open space as a signal caller, especially one that starts out of the shotgun on a majority of snaps? C’mon man!
Actual Guards: Mike Iupati* (San Francisco), Jahri Evans* (New Orleans), Chris Snee (New York)
Ramblin’ Fan Guards: Evan Mathis* (Philadelphia), Jahri Evans* (New Orleans), Mike Iupati (San Francisco)
Evan Mathis has been a true beast at guard this season, his third year out of the University of Alabama. Mathis has yet to draw a negative grade this season, and has only allowed 1 sack on 1089 snaps, which is surprising given the circus going on offensively in Philadelphia. In running blocking, there is no better interior lineman in the league, but Mathis has also put in work in the screen game, using his athletism to pull and block in the open field. Jahri Evans is the passing blocking version of Mathis this season, not allowing a sack in 1068 offensive snaps, on an offensive line that has done little to help him out. Iupati is right in line with those two guys, but has given up more sacks, committed 9 penalties (2nd most among guards that have started all 15 games), and plays with a signifantly better supporting cast than either Mathis or Evans. Snee is another one of those New York selections, being elected primilary on the fact that people know his name. Snee has allowed 2 sacks and 22 hurries(3rd among guards who have started all 15 games) on 910 snaps.
Actual Centers: Max Unger* (Seattle), Jeff Saturday (Green Bay)
Ramblin’ Fan Centers: Max Unger* (Seattle), Jonathan Goodwin (San Francisco)
No arguement with Unger, who has performed as well as you could want a center to perform this season. However, the inclusion of Jeff Saturday is a shining example of the popularity contest the Pro Bowl has become. The selection is made worse by the fact that Saturday was just benched in Green Bay, likely due to the 3 sacks (T-4th among center with 800+ offensive snaps) he has allowed this season. Worse, according to ProFootballFocus, Saturday graded out as the worst running blocking lineman at his position among all qualfying centers in the league. In Saturday’s place, one could argue for Rob Turner, the multi-purpose interior lineman that played 613 snaps for the St. Louis Rams and only allowed 1 hit, 2 hurries, and zero sacks. However, Jonathan Goodwin has played second only to Unger this year, not allowing a sack on any of his 941 snaps, and giving up only 1 hit on the quarterback.
Spot of Agreement
Luckily, the voters hit the nail on the head with at a number of other keys spots on the offense, especially with Jerome Felton at full back. The fact that Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez are “household name” players helped them in getting elected into the Pro Bowl again, but their production this season can more than justify their ticket to Hawaii. All in all, the voters did an above average job of picking the top rated players at each of the positions. For the most part, there were only a couple minor changes to the “starting” lineup. However, there were some pretty egregious selections in the back up spots, especially at quarterback and center.
Stay tuned for a breakdown of Ramblin’ Fans defensive Pro Bowl selections