Examining 10 Notable Pro Bowl Snubs

Allen StrkContributor IIIDecember 27, 2012

Examining 10 Notable Pro Bowl Snubs

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    Before you decide to comment with the inevitable quote, I'll answer it for you right now. I'm aware of the Pro Bowl being a terrible all-star game. Also I'm aware of the voting being skewed, and it can be a popularity contest. It still frustrates me that it's like that because this is my favorite sport and the best players should be rewarded.

    We've seen far too many snubs over the years, and people are still critical about it, including myself. It still frustrates me that the Pro Bowl can't be more legitimate since two-thirds of the vote goes to coaches and players. 

    That is why the snubs list will forever be a yearly theme about criticizing the players that shouldn't be known as all-stars and praising the snubs for their high level of play that wasn't rewarded properly. I'm going to pick five snubs from each conference, along with picking a player that they should replace to make the Pro Bowl teams more legitimate.

The Seattle Screw Job Has Arrived

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    It was something that I was concerned about since the Pro Bowl has been a popularity contest at times. Then I realized that Seattle was actually good this year, and it has gained plenty of national attention in the past month. Instead, the NFL forgets about the best cornerback of the 2012 season, and it has led to an Internet outrage. 

    Richard Sherman has been incredible this season, and he's been one of the main reasons why the Seahawks defense has been a top-five defense this year. Sherman has taken the role of covering the top wide receiver of every team and has become a certified shutdown cornerback. 

    Usually the case with some shutdown cornerbacks, they don't have many interceptions because quarterbacks tend to throw away from them. That is the complete opposite with Sherman having seven interceptions with three forced fumbles. He is always around the ball, and this was a major breakout season for him.

    The fact that he didn't make the Pro Bowl is absolutely ridiculous, and everyone involved with the Pro Bowl should be ashamed of themselves. The best part about this is that Sherman already answered to the decline by saying that "It doesn't mean anything,"which is great and how he’s going to make All-Pro. Obviously Sherman has other major goals in mind, which is the right mindset.


    Who Should Be Replaced  

    Patrick Peterson shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl, much to the agreement of many. Peterson may be a dangerous punt returner, but he may want to consider improving his coverage skills. He actually regressed this season, and that could possibly be because of the responsibility of being the Cardinals punt returner as well. Regardless, Peterson has no business being in the Pro Bowl. 

Andrew Luck Isn't Popular Enough Apparently

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    So Andrew Luck is one of the most popular quarterbacks in the league and has turned a franchise around from the bottom, yet Matt Schaub makes the Pro Bowl over him (spoiler alert)? I'm not sure how that happened other than the people looking into stats far too much.

    Luck's statistics are actually pretty poor compared to other quarterbacks due to his 75.6 rating. The 18 interceptions and 54.3 completion percentage really hurt his statistics, but he's been a game-changer. It's not like the Indianapolis Colts have a great defense that can back up Luck. He doesn't have a running game like Schaub does as well.

    He has been a game-changer and has thrown for over 4,000 yards. Some may say that he pads his stats by throwing too much, but where would the Colts be without Luck compared to Houston with Schaub? It was only about one year ago that T.J Yates led the Houston Texans to a playoff victory. 

    If you want to look at this season in general, its clear that Luck has played better. He may not win Rookie of the Year, but he's led so many comebacks and upset victories for the Colts. His underrated athleticism has also made the Colts offensive line look decent despite the lack of talent. Everything that involves the Colts has exceeded expectations, and Luck has been the pioneer of that.


    Who Should Be Replaced  

    Matt Schaub has been mentioned above, and I've already given my reasoning. Schaub has improved this season and has become more than just a game manager, but he isn't good enough.

    Ben Roethlisberger is another player that I would choose over Schaub. He has put up some nice games, but quarterbacks that don't show up against the best competition (Patriots and Packers) don't deserve to make it. 

Dez Bryant Has Put It All Together

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    The jokes were funny in August and watching the mental mistakes in the first two months were great for entertainment, but that is over. Dez Bryant has put all his talent together and has been a force to be reckoned with since November. It may not be the consistent production you want to see for a Pro Bowl-worthy receiver, but can the stats be denied?

    Bryant has 88 catches for 1,311 yards with 12 touchdowns. Those numbers are scary and prove that he can be right up there with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Roddy White (more on him later). With the Cowboys in complete disarray at 3-5, people were beginning to question Bryant and his maturity to become a true No. 1 receiver.

    He has put the critics to sleep and is starting to live in the end zone. With his touchdown streak at seven games and three 100-yard games, Bryant has been one of the major reasons why Dallas is in position to win the NFC East. From screen passes to slants to deep passes, Bryant has made plays on so many different routes.

    It seemed like his immaturity was never going to go away with his miscommunication with Tony Romo and constant drops. That all changed in November, and Bryant has become unstoppable. If he played like that for an entire season, he would have put up numbers close to Calvin Johnson. He has been that good this season, and it's sad that he didn't make it.


    Who Should Be Replaced  

    Usually when receivers make the Pro Bowl, they show up almost every week. It has happened on more than one occasion that I forgot Victor Cruz was on the field while watching the Giants play.

    Cruz has had six games for less than 50 yards this season, including the last two games which were must win games for the Giants. He may be talented, but he's barley over 1,000 yards and shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl. 

They Chose the Wrong Eric

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    The title already spoiled the later part, but I like being clever with my titles.

    Eric Weddle was put on the national stage after his seven interception season in 2011. His productive season led to a more prominent role for the Chargers, and he has responded with another spectacular season.

    When you watch the Chargers defensively, you obviously see a lot of problems from their lack of pass rush (when they aren't playing the Jets) and their batch of poor cover cornerbacks. Weddle has accepted being the leader and has become the general of the secondary. What surprises me the most is that Weddle was never supposed to be this good.

    He was always considered undersized at 5"11, but he plays bigger than his size. He rarely misses tackles, and he is common for making tackles at the line of scrimmage during running plays. When you look at the complete package for a safety that is short, you want a player that is similar to Weddle.

    The interceptions have dropped down to three and has only nine pass defensed, but that is still very productive. Many people don't speak too fondly about the Chargers defense, but many teams would love to have Eric Weddle in their secondary. He can play the run and pass while forcing turnovers in the process.


    Who Should Be Replaced 

    It was nice to see Eric Berry recover from his horrific torn ACL injury, but has he really played up to a Pro Bowl level? The future is bright for him, but he simply didn't stand out this year. His team is arguably the worst team in the league, and he didn't make any impact plays to help change things. Berry should be a top safety for years to come, but you rarely saw him make any plays that merited a Pro Bowl spot. 

Adrian Peterson's Friend Needs Some Love

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    You would think that the Minnesota Vikings offensive line would get some credit for possibly helping a record being broken. Adrian Peterson may be a machine and has played at a remarkable level this season. They may not be filled with stars, but they have a group of hard-working men that open up holes to help Peterson use his skill to make 10-yard runs into 60-yard runs.

    John Sullivan was never considered to be a star due to his short arms and lack of upper body strength. He was drafted in the sixth round based off his intelligence and his work ethic that was mainly putting him in a backup spot for possibly forever. Then, all of a sudden, he had to replace Matt Birk in 2009.

    After two decent seasons, he got a new contract, which came as a bit of a surprise to Viking fans. Sullivan hasn't disappointed and has played at a high level. He's led the Vikings young offensive line into opening even more holes for Adrian Peterson to help boost his yards per carry from 4.7 to 6.0

    It has been a special year for the Vikings, and the running game has been the main reason for the winning season. According to Pro Football Focus, Sullivan has been the most consistent center this season in the entire league . The sad part about Sullivan not getting a spot on the Pro Bowl is that a benched player has been picked over him.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    It shouldn't be any argument that Jeff Saturday doesn't deserve a Pro Bowl spot. The fact that the Packers have among the worst offensive lines of the year and haven't produced one 100-yard rusher this season explains it all. Then you get benched for your efforts, but still make the Pro Bowl? Saturday's inclusion was a joke, even though he is among the most respected men in the league. 

Unheralded Corner Back Deserves Credit

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    Keenan Lewis' first three years for Pittsburgh haven't been great, and it has led to the passionate fanbase wanting him gone. With just six passes defensed in three seasons and constantly being beat in coverage, Pittsburgh fans were calling for a replacement. 

    With Lewis getting a starting role, he has stepped up to have 23 passes defensed. He may not have an interception, but it's clear that he's around the ball. Lewis has taken the responsibility of becoming a full-time starter and has stepped up while Ike Taylor continues to decline.

    This is another case of a player not being popular enough, which is a shame. The Steelers defense has been as good as usual this season, and Lewis has been one of the reasons why the secondary has stayed afloat.

    With Troy Polamalu being injured for most of the season, it was Lewis and Ryan Clark that really shined this season. The lack of flashy numbers probably hurt his case, but if you look at coverage skills and limiting big plays, Lewis would have been my pick among a lackluster batch of AFC cornerbacks.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    Jonathan Joseph had a terrific season in 2011, but he played nowhere near the level of 2012. Houston may rely on him to be the No. 1 corner, but that doesn't mean he played like that. Even though the Texans missed him when he was hurt, it doesn't hide the fact that Joseph had a disappointing season. He was beat constantly this season, and now quarterbacks are using him as a target after avoiding him last season. 

The Wrong Falcons Receiver Was Chosen

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    The Falcons have formed the best receiving duo in football this season. Both receivers have played fantastic this season, but the wide receiver competition has been heavy. The position is stacked at wide receiver to the point where the all-star standard is 1,300 yards.

    He is starting to go unnoticed with all the buzz around Atlanta, but Roddy White is still playing at a high level. He still has 87 receptions with 1,309 yards and seven touchdowns, which are still fantastic numbers. The thing with White is that he's a model of consistency, which is usually important for a Pro Bowler unless they explode at a remarkable level like Dez Bryant.

    The major stat with White is that he has seven 100-yard games, which is very impressive for one season. He may not get the touchdowns that most elite receivers have, but White isn't the red-zone option.

    With Tony Gonzalez being a top tight end and Julio Jones becoming the complete package, White tends to be an afterthought in terms of the media. If you watch the Falcons, you realize that he is still Matt Ryan's No. 1 option, and he is still elite. He doesn't make many highlight reel plays, but he still makes plenty of plays on third down. Consistency is always a good thing, and that's what Roddy White is a model of.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    I'm not saying Julio Jones is overrated or having a bad season, but he simply misses out. You can't replace Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall out of the group of receivers. Dez Bryant has been too good to remove as well. Jones is a great player that is only going to grow even more, so you should expect to see him make more Pro Bowls in the future. For now, I just feel that White has outplayed him by a small margin. 

Jairus Byrd Shall Be Remembered

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    In 2009, Jairus Byrd took the NFL by storm in his rookie season with nine interceptions and making a big name for himself. Byrd was giving the Buffalo Bills a major lift in the secondary, but he hasn't played at the same level in the past few seasons. 

    His passes defensed were down along with interceptions, while the Bills were among the worst defensive teams in the league. It could have been because of the lack of pass rush, but Byrd wasn't making many game-changing plays like he was in his rookie season. The Bills made a huge splash in adding Mario Williams in the offseason. 

    This has led to a better pass rush and more chances for the secondary. This has led to Byrd having five interceptions while forcing four fumbles. He's been around the ball where he's equally effective in coverage and playing the run.

    Byrd is very athletic and is faster than most safeties in the league when you look at safeties in coverage. This is another case of a player not playing for a great team and not having enough name recognition. It's a shame, but that's the case for a few players on this list. With Buffalo's minor progress this season, you can hope that Byrd gets more noticed and makes it.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    He has actually stayed healthy for an entire season and has made an impact, but I'm still not impressed by Laron Landry enough to call him a certified Pro Bowler. Landry is still a liability when being left in coverage and still gets penalized far too often. His discipline is still a problem, but I'm not getting into his personality and his love for writing "Suicide Mission" on his chest before every game. All I know is that he's been out of position far too many times this season for me to consider him a legitimate Pro Bowler. 

Charles Johnson Is Worth the Money

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    It has become a common theme, but we have another case of a player on a small team not being picked. After a slow start to the season, Charles Johnson has turned it up and has been a force this season. When Johnson got the contract that give him six years for 72 million dollars, many people questioned paying a player that only had one elite season.

    Johnson was decent last year with nine sacks, but many teams were double teaming him, and he wasn't getting much help. Greg Hardy has stepped up this season and has helped Johnson form a nice duo for Carolina's front four. When you give Johnson a chance at a one-on-one matchup, he's going to make most tackles look silly.

    The thing that stands out with Johnson is his tendency to make his best games mean something. He's had four multiple-sack games and has forced seven turnovers this year. After only forcing five fumbles in his first five years, he's become more of a game-changer. With 10.5 sacks and playing the run well, Johnson deserved the last spot at defensive end for the Pro Bowl.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    Jason Pierre Paul is a great talent and is a force to be reckoned with, but it has been a disappointing season for his standards. With his counterparts, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, on the downside of their careers, he hasn't gotten the support he got last season. Many teams are double teaming him, and his production is down to 6.5 sacks. He is still a great player that is still young, but he hasn't played well enough to merit a spot for the Pro Bowl.  

Demaryius Thomas Snub Should Be Illegal

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    It was always said that if Demaryius Thomas could stay healthy, he would become a star. That became more evident when the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning. After the memorable 80-yard catch in last year's Wild Card game against Pittsburgh, Thomas was being pegged as a possibly breakout player.

    I'm not sure if people saw 87 catches for 1,312 yards with nine touchdowns coming, but the breakout season has happened. Thomas really shined this year and became the big-play threat that Denver drafted him to be. He instantly became Manning's favorite target, whether it was on the screen or using him as a deep threat. 

    Many people always clamored at the fact that Thomas was 6'3", but had breakaway speed as well. His 26 catches over 20 yards this year puts him at second in the league behind Calvin Johnson and shows how dynamic he can be. Also, his yards after the catch have him at third in the league.

    Obviously, the addition of Manning helped, but Thomas has put it all together and has become one of the best wide receivers in the AFC. The list is once again star-studded similar to the NFC, but this is another case of being too good to be left off. Thomas has been too good this season to be ignored, which leads to a player that you may be shocked that the player I'm choosing for him to replace.


    Who Should Be Replaced

    I'm going to break it down first. AJ Green and Andre Johnson have put on stellar seasons that make them instantly in. Reggie Wayne has been rejuvenated with over 100 yards and 1,300 yards this season. That leaves one player, and that player is Wes Welker.

    Unlike Victor Cruz, Welker has been consistent, but he hasn't put on the type of games that the other receivers I've mentioned have.

    The system does hurt Welker, and the offense is clearly more spread out, but that doesn't hide the fact that he shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl. Other than catches, Thomas out produces him in everything, and everyone would agree that Thomas has made more impact plays. Welker hasn't fallen off; it was just that he didn't play up to the caliber of the best wide receivers this season.  

The Usual Yearly Theme

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    I'm going to admit that I don't watch the Pro Bowl because the game is more of a contest rather than actual physical play. That is fine, and I know that players don't really want to get hurt. My issue is that the Pro Bowl should be more than just a popularity contest.

    The players that play the hardest should be looked at more, and it should lean on more of the coaches' selection instead of fans and players. When you look at players like Richard Sherman and Eric Weddle not get selected, you really have to shake your head and wonder what are people watching. 

    With the Pro Bowl being possibly removed next season, this is the last time people can complain about the Pro Bowl, so it was good to make it worthwhile. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the Pro Bowl be replaced because it's so pointless and so many players pull out.

    It would be nice to see the Senior Bowl be used for players that are playing for their future. It would be a good idea; hopefully, it goes through. Thanks for reading.

    Allen Strk is a columnist on Bleacher Report. You can read more of my work atTJRSports.com covering the NFL, NBA, and MMA. You can follow me at @Allen_Strk on Twitter or e-mail questions/comments at AStrk19@gmail.com.