When the Pro Bowl rosters were announced last night, I was busy consuming my third Christmas meal over two days. Typing this was difficult because my fingers have swelled to twice their normal size (#bloglife).
I had many questions about the rosters, but I narrowed it down to six. So come with me and let’s complain together, and split hairs in many different directions together.
Why are Pro Bowl roster spots awarded based on career accomplishments?
This is why actually watching the Pro Bowl is one of the worst ways you can spend your time. That and the fact that the Pro Bowl isn’t football, but I digress.
To deem Jeff Saturday worthy of a Pro Bowl roster spot based on his 2012 play is an insult to the very nature of an all-star game. On its most simple level, any all-star game should include the best players at every position. Sure, there will always be snubs and questionable decisions, which gives guys with computers stuff to write/bitch about (why, just scroll down). But here’s what we know to be true about Saturday: although he’s had a sterling career that may one day conclude with a replica of his face in Canton, he wasn’t even the best center on the Packers’ roster.
He was benched last week in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith, a decision that was made based on performance. Hell, even Saturday is fully aware that he’s aging, and he was part of an offensive line that’s allowed Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 46 times.
Why do we think Matt Ryan is so awesome?
Look, I like Matt Ryan. I like him a lot. Honest.
But there’s just an overwhelming stench of meh to Ryan that’s primarily permeating from several bad starts. Yes, every quarterback is allowed to have a stumble or three, but these were just too, um, unPro Bowl-like.
Usually I’m very much a numbers kind of guy, which is a side effect of fantasy sports I suppose. It’s also a product of my hatred for hackneyed lowest common denominator terms like “clutch” and “winner” which are used to describe quarterbacks. But although Ryan certainly deserved strong consideration, his ultimate inclusion is likely a product of a focus on the wrong numbers.
Most notably, I fear Ryan earned his trip to Honolulu at least in part based on the quarterback wins statistic, the most meaningless and completely arbitrary metric there is when we gauge the effectiveness of a QB. Why would that matter at all when a Pro Bowl team should be comprised of the best individual performers, and whether or not a game is won on any given week is often far removed from the quarterback’s hands?
There was also likely an over emphasis on passing yards, a useful but still poor statistic because of the skewing influence of game scenarios (if a team is consistently playing from behind, there will be far more opportunities to accumulate yards). Ryan currently ranks fifth with 4,481 yards, while Drew Brees — who’s also been the subject of much snub concern today — ranks first with 4,781 yards.
But much of my distaste for the Ryan selection is based on week-to-week case studies. Specifically, this:
- Ryan will be the first quarterback off the bench for the NFC even though he was dreadful against New Orleans in Week 13, and at the time they had the league’s worst pass defense. He averaged only five yards per pass attempt while completing only 54.5 percent of his passes. The latter number was a season low, and a significant drop from his overall completion percentage of 69.0 this year.
- Despite winning, there were two other glaring instances when Ryan was awful against mediocre competition. The Raiders have only recorded 11 interceptions through 15 games this season, but three of them came off Ryan in Week 6. Then there was his five-interception game against the Cardinals, which was accompanied by a 40.5 passer rating, his lowest rating since his second career start.
While it’s still difficult to remove Ryan, Tony Romo is quite worthy of his spot.
If we’re including a Falcons receiver (and we should), why Julio Jones over Roddy White?
I’ll repeat a line from above, and just insert a different name: I like Julio Jones. I really, truly do.
But this one is a little confusing, although I’ll admit it’s also the most hair split-y of all my qualms.
White was more consistent, posting seven +100 yard games to Jones’ four. And of the booming games from Jones, only one of them has come over the past seven weeks, while conversely White has excelled during the late stages of the year when the importance of games and the consequences of losing inccrease (five of his 100-yard games have come after Atlanta’s Week 7 bye).
White’s consistency has led to much better overall numbers too, as he has 1,309 receiving yards at a pace of 87.3 per game, while Jones has 1,142 yards at a pace of 76.1 per game, and his only advantage is touchdowns (he has 10, and White has seven).
And while we’re ranting about receivers, ummm really, Victor Cruz?
Again, the Jones-White debate is like picking between [insert really attractive supermodel] and [insert stupidly attractive supermodel]. ‘Tis the nature of the Pro Bowl discussion.
But the Cruz pick is truly baffling, and is a reflection of flash over substance.
Over the last two weeks as the Giants have been clawing for a playoff berth — a fight that will likely fall short — Cruz has totaled 36 receiving yards. And despite booming games with 179 yards (Week 2), and 131 yards (week 7), his overall per week average is still a nearly replacement level 69.3 yards. That’s because he’s logged six games with less than 45 yards.
Dez Bryant, meanwhile, hasn’t gone a game without a touchdown since Week 9, a stretch that’s included 10 scores even though he’s been playing minus one finger. Having all of your fingers in their proper working order is pretty important while trying to catch a football.
You should remember that whole lack of finger function bit when you see that Bryant’s 12 overall TDs puts him behind only James Jones, and he’s averaging 18.7 yards per game more than Cruz. It’s all pretty senseless.
Why do you care how much a players’ team has or hasn’t won?
There’s been a lot of rabble rabble on Twitter and elsewhere since the announcement of the Pro Bowl rosters last night about the amount of Chiefs playoffs included. There will be five Chiefs on the AFC team this year (Jamaal Charles, Dustin Colquitt, Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, and Derrick Johnson), meaning that if they lose this week, a two-win team that could hold the first overall pick next April will field more Pro Bowl players than the Colts, a playoff team.
The qualifications of those five players is a separate conversation. My question, though, is this: why the hell does it matter how many games an individual’s team has won?
I expect Casual Joe Football Fan (real name, because his parents are awful people) to be upset about this. But you’re reading a football blog right now, so there’s at least some hardcore oozing through your pores. You should know, then, that being selected to the Pro Bowl is an individual accomplishment, and it’s not linked whatsoever to team records. A player who goes to the Pro Bowl is deemed to be among the top two-to-four players at his position, depending on the specific position.
The level of suck demonstrated by the Chiefs throughout the season doesn’t matter. The level of awesome demonstrated by Hali et al in comparison to their peers does.
Why are players guilty until proven innocent?
An accusation is just that. An accusation.
When the Pro Bowl rosters were being considered, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was innocent of PED use, as his appeal was going through the proper channels. We’ve now learned that Sherman has indeed been deemed innocent due to leaking urine and a damaged cup that negated his positive test result.
I can only assume that the potential for a suspension and therefore a tainted season is what kept Sherman out of the Pro Bowl. That’s the only possible explanation for excluding a player who was behind only J.J. Watt in a metric that best measures a core function of defensive football when the quarterback is attempting to complete a pass…
Note that @rsherman_25 is 2nd in dropbacks disrupted (22.0). Sacks plus INTs plus passes defensed/batted. Watt leads at 35.5.
— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@espn_nfcwest) December 27, 2012
Sherman is also tied for the league lead with 23 passes defensed, while his seven interceptions put him behind only Chicago’s Tim Jennings, and he’s forced three fumbles.
He’s very good at making sure that opposing wide receivers and quarterbacks are pretty bad. Yet he’ll be doing what the rest of us do when the Pro Bowl is on TV.
Anything else. Absolutely anything else.