Pro Bowl Voting: Maurice Jones-Drew and 9 Other Players Not Getting Enough Love
The updated NFL Pro Bowl voting tallies were released Wednesday and for once it seems like the fans are getting it right.
That being said, there are some players who aren't getting the love from fans they deserve, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They're putting up monster years, but aren't even leading their respective position in votes.
Here are a few guys that'll probably end up playing in the big game in Hawaii, but they've all made strong cases to be starters in the game.
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It's always difficult going up against Minnesota's Jared Allen, who currently is receiving the most votes for all defensive ends in the NFC, but Jason Babin has been putting up a stellar season, too.
Babin has recorded the same amount of sacks as Allen with 18. Babin has also recorded 34 tackles and forced three fumbles.
He's also been a more valuable member for his team and his defense. The Eagles have six wins and are still looking for a playoff spot. Part of this has to do with Babin's work on defense. Babin, along with fellow defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and Trent Cole, has been pressuring quarterbacks all year long, as evidenced by the fact that the team is 10th in passing defense.
Meanwhile, Allen's Vikings have only two wins and are all of a sudden one of the front-runners in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes.
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London Fletcher leads the universe in tackles and isn't even the leading vote-getter amongst inside linebackers.
Instead, Patrick Willis of San Francisco, who has 93 tackles and two sacks is getting the most votes.
Fletcher has more tackles than Willis with 146 and he has two sacks and two interceptions to go with that. That alone demonstrates that Fletcher has been a better player this year.
It's true that Willis has been a major factor on San Francisco's dynamic defense. For this, Willis deserves a Pro Bowl spot. That being said, Fletcher's individual accomplishment this year is noteworthy and deserves more acclaim.
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Another inside linebacker not getting enough love at all is D'Qwell Jackson.
Ray Lewis is the leading vote-getter for inside linebackers and it's because of his past, not his present. Everyone knows Ray Lewis; nobody knows D'Qwell Jackson. Lewis only has two sacks this season and 78 tackles and somehow he's the leading vote-getter.
All D'Qwell's done this year is record 138 tackles, good enough for second in the NFL. He also has twice as many sacks as Lewis and an interception to go along with it.
Unfortunately for Jackson, he plays in Cleveland and he's not as popular as the flamboyant Ray Lewis.
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One would think when someone leads the league in rushing, they'd start the Pro Bowl.
This is not the case for Maurice Jones-Drew, who leads the NFL with 1334 rushing yards. He also has seven touchdowns and 349 receiving yards.
Arian Foster is the leading vote-getter for AFC running backs despite missing two games and averaging seven less yards per game than Jones-Drew. Foster does have over 600 receiving yards and is even with Jones-Drew when it comes to all-purpose yards. For this, he deserves a spot on the Pro Bowl roster.
That being said, Jones-Drew has made a strong case that he should be the starter. He's averaged more yards per carry than Foster, with 4.5 yards per carry, and he's played in every game.
Let's not forget. Jones-Drew doesn't have another elite back in Ben Tate spelling him and giving him breaks. Jones-Drew has to carry the load in Jacksonville.
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Here's another example of a player getting voted in because of his name rather than merit. Darrelle Revis is the leading vote-getter from AFC cornerbacks, but Kyle Arrington should be starting the game.
Despite playing for a team with one of the worst passing defenses, Arrington has seven interceptions compared to Revis' four. In fact, Arrington is tied for the league lead with the most interceptions. He's also recorded more tackles than Revis with 77.
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Yet another position where a player seemed to have gotten more votes because of his name rather than his performance.
Devin Hester leads all NFC returners in votes, but Patrick Peterson is just as deserving, if not more. He has four punt return touchdowns this season compared to Hester's two. Hester also has a kickoff return touchdown, but Peterson doesn't have any because he doesn't do kickoffs.
That being said, Peterson has slowly become a major threat and punters are now trying to kick away from him.
Haloti Ngata leads all AFC defensive tackles in votes for the Pro Bowl, but Cleveland's Ahtyba Rubin has made a good case for himself, too.
Rubin leads Ngata in tackles, 67-56, and has three sacks. One shouldn't discount Rubin's impact on Cleveland's pass defense, which is third-best in the league.
It's a close call and they both deserve to start, but Rubin may have gotten himself more votes if he didn't play in Cleveland.
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Justin Smith is currently the leader for NFC's defensive ends in votes. San Francisco's Smith has put up solid numbers this year, but Chicago's Israel Idonije has been a potent defensive threat as well.
Idonije is second in tackles among NFC DEs with 46 and he's also recorded four sacks.
So why is there no love for the monster in Chicago?
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Yes, a kicker is shamelessly included in this list.
When a team wins a Super Bowl, it seems like all of their players get voted it in because of the bandwagon effect. Right now, nine Packers lead their respective positions in the Pro Bowl voting.
Some deserve it, others don't.
Mason Crosby is one of them that doesn't. He's had a solid year, making 23 out of his 26 field goals, but Connor Barth has been more impressive for the Bucs.
While most of Crosby's work comes from the 30-39 yard range, Barth has been draining more field goals from longer distances. He is 11-for-12 from the 40-49 range and two-for-three from the 50-plus range. This warrants a Pro Bowl appearance for the Tampa kicker.
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Eric Weddle leads all safeties with seven interceptions and has been rudely excluded from the Pro Bowl party because of legendary Raven, Ed Reed.
Once again, this is yet another instance of name over merit. Weddle has been a cornerstone of the Charger defense all year, playing like a big-time stud with 77 tackles.
Hopefully Weddle will get in as a backup, but the stats don't lie. He deserves to start.