When the 2013 NFC Pro Bowl was announced, only one player from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was on the list; defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
There were three other players on Tampa Bay’s roster that were close to being Pro Bowl worthy but didn’t quite make the grade. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson, rookie running back Doug Martin and free safety Ronde Barber all had shots at the honor, but none were selected.
And that was the right call.
Jackson was on the outside looking in at a number of talented wide receivers. Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall were selected as the starters, and Julio Jones and Victor Cruz are the backups. Johnson and Marshall were no-brainers, and Jones was definitely solid too.
The Cruz selection was a mystery, unless the 2011 was factored in. Which it was not.
Not many, if any, NFC free agents made as big a splash with their new teams than Jackson, but even if you take Cruz off the Pro Bowl list, Roddy White or Dez Bryant deserve looks before Jackson. But Jackson would be right there after them.
Martin is having a fine rookie campaign and ranks fourth in the NFC with 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 45 receptions, which puts him tied for fourth in the NFC among running backs.
The problem for Martin is that he plays at a pretty deep position.
Lynch has 178 more rushing yards and an extra rushing touchdown over Martin, and Gore, while being outgained, has a much better yards per carry average.
It’s a close call as to whether Martin can argue his case over Gore for that final backup spot on the Pro Bowl roster, but this decision wasn’t an egregious error.
Barber made the transition over to safety from cornerback this season and made that move look easy. His four interceptions have him tied for third place in the NFC, and he even brought one of those picks back for a touchdown.
But being right on the cusp of selection without being voted in is probably where Barber belongs. Thomas DeCoud had more interceptions than Barber and he wasn’t selected either.
Being in the right place at the right time and leading the defense is something that Barber can do better than anyone around. But Barber just isn’t a Pro Bowl caliber safety.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.