AP All-Pro Team 2013: Biggest Snubs and Surprises from This Year's Squad
Every year in professional sports, there are players who have outstanding seasons but get left off notable lists. In the NFL, being named to the Pro Bowl and AP All-Pro teams are the most prestigious individual honors for a player outside of the end-of-season awards.
But for several players who achieved success on the field, their names were left off the AP All-Pro list for other players at their position that put together seasons that were great in their own right.
Here is a list of the 10 players at different positions who were deserving of mention on the AP All-Pro team but just missed out.
Paul Posluszny, ILB, Jacksonville Jaguars
If Paul Posluszny looks upset in the above picture, it's because he has a reason to be. One of the best linebackers in the NFL this season didn't get an invite to the Pro Bowl—he's the first alternative for the AFC, so he'll likely get in over an AFC linebacker who makes the Super Bowl—and was not on the AP All-Pro list as well.
The former Penn State linebacker was second in the league in tackles this season behind Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinnatti Bengals. Pro Football Focus also points out that he is ahead of last year's defensive player of the year J.J. Watt in stopping the run:
Most defensive stops against the run this year belongs to Paul Posluszny w/64. 2nd is J.J. Watt w/54 & 3rd Lavonte David 3rd w/53
That statistic is notable because the entire rest of his team was terrible against the run, with the Jaguars finishing 29th in rushing yards allowed. Posluszny also finished ahead of All-Pro Burfict in passes defended and interceptions, while tying with him in sacks and fumbles forced
Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo Bills
Much like the aforementioned Posluszny, Kiko Alonso is a player who was an unforgettable performer on a very forgettable team.
The rookie linebacker finished third in the NFL with 159 tackles, plus added two sacks, four interceptions and a forced fumble this season. Despite being nominated for Rookie of the Year this season, Alonso hasn't gotten much respect for his outstanding debut season.
While Alonso was the leader for a Buffalo Bills defense that finished in the top 10 in the NFL, the team finished 6-10 and did nothing else noteworthy.
Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
All Justin Houston did this season was finish with 11 sacks, four passes defended and one forced fumble. If those numbers aren't deserving of at least second-team recognition, I'm not really sure what are.
His counterpart, Tamba Hali, earned the recognition and rightfully so. But with San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks finishing behind Houston in sacks (8.5), the fact that he was not included certainly should raise some eyebrows.
Houston only played in 11 games this season, making those numbers even more ridiculous. While he was probably left off the list for not playing in a complete season, he has other things to worry about, like the playoffs. He is focused on Kansas City's matchup with the Colts in the Wild Card Round, per the Chiefs' official Twitter account, "Win or go home. Everybody’s mindset is we are not ready to go home."
Jason Hatcher, DT, Dallas Cowboys
Wait, there is a player on the Dallas Cowboys defense deserving of mention on the All-Pro list? Yes, and his name is Jason Hatcher, who finished with a great season at the defensive tackle position.
The lineman finished with 11 sacks and an additional four tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a total of 15 tackles for loss. The tackle also finished with two forced fumbles and three passes defended for the season.
While players like Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy were certainly deserving, Hatcher didn't get a lot of credit for the season he put together on an otherwise lackluster defense.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Among the list of players not getting any respect because they played on units that underperformed, Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Brandon Boykin certainly fits the mold.
The second-year corner ranked second in the NFL with six interceptions, 10th in the NFL in passes defended and he returned an interception for a touchdown this season. Boykin ranks just behind Richard Sherman in interceptions but is actually ahead of the All-Pro in passes defended.
In the final game of the regular season, Boykin put together a huge performance with three passes defended, one tackle for loss and he finished the game with the game-winning interception of Kyle Orton. Boykin described the play to Zach Berman of Philly.com:
I saw his feet, I saw him kind of hesitate, and I knew it was going to be an in route. They could either go in or out with that much time. They had to get out of bounds or get a quick play. I was able to undercut it.
First-teamers like Sherman and Patrick Peterson were certainly deserving, but Boykin got lost in a passing defense that finished as one of the worst in the league.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
On a list that includes Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy, it's hard to say that AP voters got this one wrong. But when there is a player who meant as much to his team's offense as Matt Forte exempt from the list, it appears something went amiss.
Despite being on a team that missed the playoffs, Forte finished as the second-leading rusher in the NFL and fourth in receiving yards by a running back. With 1,933 total yards, the only backs ahead of him were both Charles and McCoy.
Though some might argue that Eddie Lacy was more important to his team's success, Pro Football Focus points out that no running back in the league was in on a higher percentage of snaps this season, with Forte leading all running backs with 941 snaps, 88% of the Bears' total
While Lacy was the catalyst for the Green Bay Packers' run to the playoffs without Aaron Rodgers for much of the end of the season, the rookie didn't outperform Forte in any statistical category. Forte was far and away the better back.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
While the argument isn't as strong as Forte's, Marshawn Lynch was still phenomenal this season and deserving of a spot on the All-Pro team.
The Seattle Seahawks' workhorse finished ahead of Lacy in rushing yards (1,257) and rushing touchdowns (12), while also having twice as many rushes for 20 yards or more and more yards per carry (4.2).
In fact, in the fan vote for the Pro Bowl, Lynch got in ahead of Lacy, as ESPN reported:
2014 Pro Bowl RBs: Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson
Frank Gore could have been listed as a snub here as well, but it's hard to argue that other backs meant more to their teams than Lynch or Forte this season.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
When it comes to having a flair for the spectacular this season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a wide receiver who did it better than Alshon Jeffery.
But the same man who got snubbed of a Pro Bowl invite also finished behind other receivers in the AP All-Pro team.
Jeffery finished the season behind every other receiver mentioned in both receiving yards and touchdowns, but his snub was likely due more to the fact that he played alongside Brandon Marshall in the same receiving corps.
While he was left off this season, Jeffery will continue to blossom in Chicago and could be a Pro Bowler and All-Pro within the next few years.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
This season has not only been a huge turnaround for Philip Rivers, as he has been the main reason for the San Diego Chargers getting into the playoffs. But with just one quarterback making the AP All-Pro team, it likely means no other players even earned votes at the position.
Just a season ago, Rivers looked like a quarterback who couldn't get the job done for the Chargers. The San Diego signal-caller suffered through two seasons with a passer rating below 90 with 53 total touchdowns and 35 interceptions in 2011 and 2012.
In 2013, Rivers went off for 4,478 passing yards with 32 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. His passer rating rose, returning to 105.5, and his completion percentage was 69.5—the highest mark in his 10-year career.
Needless to say, Rivers not only made a huge comeback, but he also deserved a second-team nod.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
The ridiculous numbers Brees put up pale in comparison to what Manning did this season, but he did finish second in passing touchdowns by a good margin, as ESPN points out.
Brees was also the only other quarterback to finish with more than 5,000 yards, and he only had two more interceptions than Manning. The video-game-like numbers Manning put up this season dwarfed anything other quarterbacks accomplished, but it certainly doesn't mean Brees or Rivers didn't demand respect for their numbers and importance to their teams.