The 10 Biggest Pro Bowl Roster Snubs
The NFL's Pro Bowl selection process is a complete mess.
While many owners, players, media and fans would love to scrap the nearly useless event entirely, I actually think the game has some merit. Maybe it's just the hopeless optimist in me, but I look at NBA All-Star Weekend or the old NHL Skills Competitions with jealousy and hope that one day the NFL decides to compete.
Sure the game itself doesn't mean anything, but meaningless football games can still be extremely fun to watch. Rather than scrap the game, the league would be wise to try ways to fix it.
The biggest problem with the game, of course, is the selection process—it doesn't mean a darned thing. Using Pro Bowl selections to talk about "how great" a player is/isn't is the quickest way toward proving how little one knows about football. Why? Fans vote on the Pro Bowl and count as one-third of the total selection process.
Fans aren't stupid, but they're also not concerned about objectivity. Fans also don't watch all 32 teams with regularity nor do they spend time quibbling about interior line play or tracking special-teams tackles. Of course, some fans do. So, the point of this isn't to paint every single one with a broad brush stroke. Players and coaches vote on Pro Bowl nods as well, and it isn't like they're objective—not one bit.
So, each year, players who deserve the honor (and the corresponding financial reward many of them have written into their contracts) get snubbed.
This is a tribute to those snubbed players, whose play has stood out from their peers this season but who were not selected to head to Hawaii in January.
C.J. Spiller (RB Buffalo Bills)
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Maybe Spiller isn't a "snub" as much as he needs to have a long talk with his head coach about getting him the ball a little more often.
Still, ask defenders who they fear the most when he touches the ball, and Spiller's name is going to come up more often than not. He doesn't have the massive amount of carries as the guys who made it, but he's been the better overall running back.
Fans may not recognize that, but it's a crime that players and coaches didn't make up for it.
Spiller led the league in both yards per carry and yards after contact per carry. He also made defenders miss 50 times this season (tied for fourth in the league). Everyone who had more broken tackles had over 100 carries more than Spiller as well.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Ray Rice
Roddy White (WR Atlanta Falcons)
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After Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, no NFC wide receiver has meant as much to his team as Roddy White this season.
The Falcons have Julio Jones (who made the Pro Bowl over his teammate) and they have Tony Gonzalez as well, but from week to week, White has been the consistent downfield threat and moving the chains for the Falcons.
Jones is the more explosive player, and Victor Cruz has the dance moves, but White should be headed to his fifth straight Pro Bowl.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Victor Cruz, Julio Jones
John Sullivan (C Minnesota Vikings)
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Adrian Peterson made the Pro Bowl, great!
None of his linemen making it? Completely idiotic.
Seriously, how does anyone—fan, player, coach, scout, alien from a distant planet—watch the Vikings and not realize that guys like Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan have been reestablishing the line of scrimmage all season long? Yes, Peterson is amazing, but it isn't as if he hasn't had help.
Sullivan isn't just a road-grader, though. He's gotten a lot better this season at picking up blitzers both on the interior and kicking out and picking up free rushers on the perimeter.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Jeff Saturday
Mike Pouncey (C Miami Dolphins)
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Mike Pouncey might be in the league 20 years and never get the respect he deserves. That sort of thing happens when your brother, Maurkice, gets to the league ahead of you and earns a bunch of respect blocking for an elite quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger.
But Maurkice wakes up every morning and wishes he could play as well as his brother Mike.
After Sullivan and a couple of centers that operate in the zone-blocking scheme—Chris Myers and Will Montgomery—Pouncey has been the best center in football this season. That makes him easily one of the best centers in the league and one of the two best in the AFC. Myers, thankfully, made it, but the inclusion of Maurkice and Jeff Saturday prove how much of a popularity contest this game truly is.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Maurkice Pouncey
Evan Mathis (OG Philadelphia Eagles)
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The boys over at Pro Football Focus have been beating the drum for Evan Mathis for years. Again in 2012, he's their highest-rated guard, and it isn't that close. When one factors in the revolving door of players around him and the lack of talent he's been blocking for, it's insane that he didn't make the Pro Bowl.
How does a player like Bryce Brown step right in and hit the ground running? Easy, he ran behind Mathis almost 40 percent of the time when he came in.
As often as the Eagles quarterbacks were harassed this season? Mathis only allowed one sack.
People don't know a lot about Mathis, and the Eagles were atrocious this season, but if any Eagle deserved to go, it was this talented left guard.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Chris Snee
Ndamukong Suh (DT Detroit Lions)
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Fans don't really like Ndamukong Suh...opponents and opposing coaches really hate him.
So, in the league's big popularity contest, it's easy to see why the NFL's "dirtiest player" was left off the list.
In truth, people really have no idea what to think about Suh. When he came in as a rookie, people ate up his sack numbers and praised him, completely missing the fact that he was getting blown up in the run game and teams were trapping him (successfully) every chance they got. Last year, he actually played better as his sack numbers dropped.
This year, the sack numbers are still low, but he's been one of the top interior defensive linemen in the entire league. He's getting double-teamed and still beating those blocks. He's also playing the run as well as he ever has. It still isn't as well as one would like from a top pick like Suh, but enough that he should get recognition for it.
Sacks are not the be-all, end-all of defensive line play, especially on the interior. Suh has made the players around him look better this season.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Henry Melton
Anthony Spencer (OLB Dallas Cowboys)
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Who is the elite, Pro Bowl-caliber outside linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys?
For years the answer to that question has been DeMarcus Ware. In 2012, it wasn't. It was Anthony Spencer. This isn't a knock on Ware; he was good this year, but no one who seriously watched the Cowboys came away with any impression more so than, "Wow, this Spencer guy is awesome."
Like Suh on the last slide, Spencer was phenomenal against the run. Teams just went ahead and stopped running anywhere near him, then he started tracking running backs down from behind. His play has been great all season long, but the games against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are clear examples of why the Cowboys have a shot at the playoffs and why Spencer should be headed to the Pro Bowl.
Who Should Be Staying Home: DeMarcus Ware
Daryl Washington (LB Arizona Cardinals)
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Speaking of overlooked NFC linebackers...
The Cardinals have been terrible this season, but in a parallel universe where their four-game winning streak continued into a nine or 10-win season, Daryl Washington would be a lock for this honor. Instead, the entire Cardinals defense consistently gets overlooked, and the one player who made it (Patrick Peterson) didn't deserve the nod over Calais Campbell or Washington.
Washington is the best player on the Cardinals' stout defense, and he's certainly one of the best interior linemen in the NFC.
Like the couple of defenders before him on this list, Washington is awesome in run defense. However, unlike Suh and Spencer, Washington can also blitz. His nine sacks lead all interior linebackers, and that kind of versatility should have punched his ticket to Hawaii.
Who Should Be Staying Home: NaVorro Bowman
Eric Weddle (S San Diego Chargers)
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Say it with me now: "Eric Weddle is the best safety in football."
Say it loud. Say it proud. It is the truth that nobody seems to care about, and he's been ignored for years. After being drafted in 2007, he's been to the Pro Bowl once. He's probably deserved it two or three more times than that. Being on the West Coast gets him consistently overlooked, and this season is just another chip to put on his shoulder.
Quarterbacks passing toward Weddle are doing so at their own peril. He's only allowed 136 passing yards all season and a 42.6 passer rating. Both of those are among the best of any full-time safety.
Miami's Reshad Jones should rightfully be on the Pro Bowl roster as well, but Weddle gets my snub vote because he should have the name recognition that gets other people voted in for no reason.
Who Should Be Staying Home: LaRon Landry, Ed Reed
Richard Sherman (CB Seattle Seahawks)
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Richard Sherman has been the best cornerback in the NFC this season.
Patrick Peterson is the big name that grabbed attention last season as a special teamer. Tim Jennings had a fantastic start to the season but has fallen off later in the year. After Charles Tillman, Sherman should've been a lock, and Antoine Winfield is arguably the next guy up on the list.
Voters likely passed Sherman over because of his ongoing PED appeal, and that would be a shame because he is eligible while on appeal and "guilty until proven innocent" isn't a great way to run a selection process.
The best players go to the Pro Bowl. Sherman has been one of the best players. He (along with the other players on this list) should be going.
Who Should Be Staying Home: Patrick Peterson, Tim Jennings
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.