Yesterday I opined on the offensive picks for the 2009 Pro Bowl. Some of you agreed, some of you pointed out my own omissions, and one of you even declared that this year's picks were "perfect."
I would expect nothing less from you today as we peruse the defensive selections.
Although there isn't as much controversy on this side of the ball—guys such as Ray Lewis, the two Jameses (Farrior and Harrison), and DeMarcus Ware all deservedly made the cut—there WERE a few omissions that need discussion.
Some of these, of course, are personal picks; others show the stats that should have gotten them the nod, but didn't.
So, without any more ado, and without further gilding the lily, let's begin.
Casey Hampton, DT
This one is personal. Hampton is my favorite player on Madden, and I always have him leading the league in sacks and tackles. A man of considerable girth, Hampton has the ability to occupy two offensive linemen simply by standing up and spreading his arms.
His stats are down a bit—he has missed three games due to injury—but his presence on the defensive line allows his linebackers to do what they do best: Make tackles in the backfield. As an impact player and veteran leader, I would have liked to see him recognized with at least a reserve spot.
Rocky Bernard, DT
If I were Rocky, I'd demand a recount. How many people voted for Pat Williams thinking that they were actually voting for his teammate Kevin?
More tackles, more sacks, and a forced fumble that Williams—Pat, that is—doesn't have puts him on the plane. Or it should have.
Barrett Ruud, ILB
Ruud got screwed: Three sacks and two INTs trump Patrick Willis, and the remaining stats are close enough to go either way. Plus, Ruud and the Bucs are poised to make the playoffs; the Niners are going home in two weeks.
Shaun Ellis, DE
Eight sacks. Two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery for a touchdown. Dwight Freeney is slightly in ahead sacks and fumbles, but Ellis has 30 more tackles than Freeney. You can't get to the quarterback on every play, and if you're not making the other plays, the chains are moving.
John Abraham, DE
In a slight departure from the thrust of this article, I'm going to tell you why Abraham DIDN'T make it despite being the NFC sack leader amongst defensive ends. Read above: TOTAL TACKLES. Half of his total is tied up in sacks, which means either he's doing nothing but rushing the quarterback, or ball carriers are going right by him.
Either way, sacks are just one element of the position. If you're not containing, the offense is gaining.
Just making sure you guys are paying attention.
Jacques Reeves, CB
This was a close one. Darrelle Revis got the nod, thanks in no small part to his large market. I looked here at solo tackles, where Reeves has the edge, meaning he is either the first one there and doesn't need any help, or he is the ONLY one between the receiver and six points to get the job done.
Tramon Williams, CB
Williams and Woodson have nearly identical stats; how did Woodson get in and Williams not make it over Asante Samuel?
Michael Griffin, FS
A safety has two jobs: Don't let the long pass beat you, and stand as the last line of defense against the run. Griffin has done both, and done them well. He's matched evenly with Ed Reed against the pass with five INTs, but he is so far ahead in tackles his numbers look almost like a linebacker's.
Griffin, along with Chris Hope—who made it to Hawaii—are a big reason the Titans are sitting atop the AFC right now.
Oshiomogho Atogwe, FS
Tied for second in the NFC with four INTs, near the top in tackling stats, and leads the NFC in forced fumbles by a free safety. Plus, I think it would be fun to see how many different ways the announcers tried to pronounce his name.
And that, as they say, is that. I know full well that I left someone out or gave someone more credit than they were due (stay off Hampton, though; I'm not rolling on that one). Let me know who you think I should have mentioned, and I'll let you know why I didn't.