So Pro Bowl announcements came out today. In my opinion, the Pro Bowl is the most irrelevant of all the major sports all star games. That may change if they go forward with the plan to hold the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl. That would make it far more interesting and give us something else to talk about in those insanely long two weeks before the big game. Still they need to do something about how the voting is done on this thing. First of all it's crazy to have the rosters done 2 weeks before the season is finished. I could maybe see the argument with setting the team before the last game is played, with a few teams resting starters that week,--- but in reality, what makes the first game of the season anymore important than the last game of the season for Pro Bowl voting. You can make a strong case that many of the last games that have playoff implications are more indicative of how crucial a player and his stats are to a team. Anyhoo, as far as the skill positions go for the Pro Bowl I wanted to make a couple of comments about how the rosters filled out.
Quarterback: Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, & Eli Manning
Not a lot of argument from me here. Warner played crappy competition all year but his stats are great and you simply can't keep him out with him being 2nd in yards, QB rating, TDs and first in completion percentage. I agree with the Brees selection as well. Even though his team sucked this year, they are at least at .500 and this game should recognize individual success when it is outstanding as well as team success. On that point, Manning's selection I can see because his team was great, he was the leader of that team and his stats were very good (not great though). I could also see an argument for Matt Ryan or Tony Romo based on very good stats and fairly decent team success. Others might tout Aaron Rodgers, Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme, or McNabb but they are weaker arguments based on their stats, recent benchings (that's you Donovan) and in the case of Rodgers, his team's lack of success.
Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, & Roddy White
Fitzgerald and Boldin are solid picks here with almost 90 receptions each and over 1000 yards. Calvin Johnson has more yards than Boldin but only by about 100 yards and remember Boldin missed games with that awful facial injury. Roddy White also deserves a spot based on his receptions and yards. The 4th pick is in my mind a little debatable but I think it's the right one. Steve Smith is 2nd in yards, and is 1st in yards per game, being the only guy over 100 ypg. Antonio Bryant has a case here being 4th in catches, and over 1000 yards, and Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings could argue they belong as well. Bottom line is I think the 4 selected are the right ones based on what they have done to this point.
Running Backs: Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, & Clinton Portis
Peterson is the best back in football (having ripped that title from Tomlinson last year) and Turner and Portis join him in the top 3 for rushing yards. Turner has 15 TDs, tops among NFC running backs and again not to bash Tomlinson, but MT has been better than LT among the two former teamates. Here is where I think early voting screws some guys. I actually might take Deangelo Williams of the Panthers over Clinton Portis based on how Williams is surging and how he is responsible for much of his team's late season success. He may end up with more yards that Portis and his average yard per rush is 5.5, almost a full yard above Portis. Brandon Jacobs, Ryan Grant and Matt Forte also could make a claim here, with probably Jacobs having the best case if he wasn't hurt.
Tight Ends: Jason Whitten, Chris Cooley
There isn't anybody close to these guys in receiving yards so they are obvious selections. Blocking is important but you need catches to be known as an all-star Tight End.
Quarterbacks: Payton Manning, Brett Favre, & Jay Cutler
The way Manning started the season I would have bet this was one year he wasn't going to make it. But he's pulled it together as of late and ranks high in most categories so I think he's a good choice here. Cutler has the most yards passing and Favre has the best completion percentage so they are both worthy candidates for the Pro Bowl. Philip Rivers has the best QB rating and very good stats but the disappointment of the Chargers is even worse for me than Brees and the Saints debacle this year. So I really do think Cutler deserves the nod over him. Plus Rivers is such a punk it probably really bugs him Cutler got in and that's ok with me too. I think Chad Pennington has a case to make too and I'd probably go with him over Favre this year based on consistency. What a weird thing that he is dumped by the Jets and he goes out and has a great year for the Dolphins. I wonder if the Jets regret it at all? Probably not because Pennington had plenty of years to prove something to them and he basically had one great year earlier in the decade and then a whole lot of injured or crappy years. Also weird is that I could see someone making the argument that Matt Cassel should get some thoughts here for the Prow Bowl. I think he has played brilliantly for most of the year and whether it's him, the system, Moss & Welker, or just plain luck, you can't argue with the results.
Receievers: Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker
Johnson and Welker are no brainers here with both having over 100 receptions and over 1000 yards. Marshall and Reggie Wayne also make sense because they are the only other receivers over 1000 yards at this point. However, you could make some noise for T.J. Houshmandzadeh who has pulled in nearly 1000 yards and has over 90 catches compared to Reggie Waynes 72 grabs. I think Houshamwhatshisname is more deserving than Wayne even though I like the Colt's receiver much more. Randy Moss is having another decent year also with 10 TDs and over 900 yards but he'll have to wait until Brady is back for his trip.
Running Backs: Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson, & Ronnie Brown.
How does Ronnie Brown get on this list? The only thing I can think of is that all those wildcat formation highlights he starred in must have swayed some people. Steve Slaton absolutely deserved to be one of these guys. He's third in yards with over 1100 (Brown barely has over 800 yards), and he's averaging 4.9 yards a carry compared to Brown's 4.2 yards. This pick is a joke. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I get Jones and Johnson, both whose leading rushing yard totals and yards per carry and TDs easily get them the nod here. I just don't see Ronnie Brown here.
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates
These are almost automatic picks right. You don't even have to think about. But you should, Owen Daniels of the Texans and Dallas Clark both have more receiving yards and catches. I think this year Dallas Clark is the guy that should go instead of Gates. His big catches have saved the Colts season and he's one of the main reasons they have won so many close games.