Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2008 Pro Bowl

Pro Bowlers have been announced, so it's time for everyone who follows the NFL to talk about snubs. Who is coasting off their reputation? Which emerging players got the shaft? Who rode a wave of hype to Hawaii?

I'll start with a comparison between the QBs/RBs selected and who I thought deserved it last week.

My picks: Romo, Favre and Hasselbeck
08 Pro Bowlers: Romo, Favre and Hasselbeck
Good job, Pro Bowl voters.

My picks: Manning, Brady, Garrard
08 Pro Bowlers: Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger
I think Garrard deserved it more, but it's hard to argue with Roethlisberger's production behind that awful O-line. Awesome post from FO's open thread for the afternoon games, "BRoeth has been sacked 5 times so far, which would be 15 for a normal human and 25 for Byron Leftwich."

My Picks: Westbrook, Marion Barber III, Adrian "Purple Jesus" Peterson
08 Pro Bowlers: Westbrook, Marion Barber III, Adrian "Purple Jesus" Peterson
Even deciding Pro Bowlers is easier in the NFC

My Picks: LdT, Addai, and a halfhearted vote for Justin Fargas
08 Pro Bowlers: LdT, Addai and Willie "negative yards or a TD" Parker
Even with how ineffective Parkers running has been I wouldn't expect voters to ignore the yardage total. If everyone was that smart it would be average instead of smart. Fred Taylor has been getting a lot of mention as a snub. He deserves some of it because he was close to deserving in my opinion, but Addai and LdT were clearly better backs as shown by their DPAR, DVOA and success rates.

Nearly all of the players I talked about deserving the spot were voted in and the 2 that weren't were the two I was least sure about.

At AFC receiver Welker and Chad Johnson have been sited as snubs and rightfully so, both have a higher DPAR and DVOA than Houshmandzadeh and Braylon Edwards. Welker has higher catch %s than any of the receivers that made it. Housh and Braylon were worse choices than the 2 snubs. Moss and Wayne have been the top WRs in the NFL this year. Welker has put up his big numbers in large part because of the offense/scheme around him but it's hard to discount that much production. Chad Johnson's catch % (59%) is a little below what I'd like to see from a top WR but Edward's is ugly (53%). Andre Johnson and Santonio Holmes have both been extremely effective when they've played, but don't have the raw numbers.

In the NFC Colston and Jennings have been mentioned as snubs. Colston should have made it for sure, 1000 yards, 9TDs with a 70% catch rate for the 4th best DPAR. Jennings doesn't have the yards of the other guys, but gets into the endzone a lot and catches a respectable % of passes his way. Both Fitzgerald and Housh have benefited from a lot of passes to them, Housh leads the league in targets, Fitz is just behind Housh and Chad Johnson for third in the league.
Engram of the Seahawks hasn't gotten much press at all but he has 1000 yards with a 70% catch rate. Only Engram and Welker have over 700 yards with a catch % over 70. Only Welker, Anthony Gonzalez and Ike Hillard have had at least 45 passes thrown to them and caught a higher % of them. I'd go with T.O. (even with the drops, worst catch % in the top 14 of DPAR), Colston, Driver and Engram.

The tight end and fullback choices were fine. I would have liked to have seen Clark, but his hands are officially worrying me (55% catch rate). If he keeps dropping balls Manning's inner child will be whispering "Gonzalez" and Clark will be headed elsewhere in the offseason.

On the O-line I can say that Jonathan Odgen made it on rep alone without even knowing how well he's played, because he hasn't played in 6 of his teams 14 games. A guy that had missed more than half his teams games at the time voting was going on should not be voted in. Allen Faneca is part of a horrible O-line in Pittsburgh, it might not be his fault but he has a recognizable name at a position where that's the main criteria for a Pro Bowl nod.

The NFC defense looks good enough, though I'm sure there are probably some great guys left off. Sean Taylor is the starting FS, classy, they should recognize him with the "missing man" D like the Redskins did.

Allen and Vanden Bosch have been great at DE, the spot vacated by Freeney goes to Jason Taylor. Definitely a choice influenced by reputation but he's still a top DE. I'd have gone with Mario Williams. The Media and Public really owe him an apology. He's been great this year. If he was going against Charlie Johnson Sunday I would want Peyton to handoff on the first play and sit the rest of the game (he plays on the defensive right, right? I sure hope so).

AFC middle linebacker is where I have a problem. Ray Lewis has only one more solo tackle (way to jump on that pile for the assist RayRay) than Gary Brackett who has two more picks and has caused several more with tips. As the MLB in the Tampa-2 he has the most difficult coverage assignment of any LB. He's has to cover deep between the safeties. That's the realm of the freakish TEs and far more territory and open space than most LBs can handle. When he isn't making the Tampa 2 and "Tampa" 2 he is spying on mobile QBs or playing close on elite TEs like Antonio Gates (3 catches for 26 yards vs Colts). Ray Lewis is a member of the top run D (by DVOA), Brackett of the top Pass D, but how well do they do at the other element? Colts run D 10th, Ravens 24th. Overall the Colts are the second best defense in the league, Ravens 8th. Brackett should be going.

AFC safeties are the big three names Ed Reed, Polamalu and Sanders, sounds right.

Decent job overall Brackett is the only omission that really bothers me.
And remember arguing about who goes to the Pro Bowl is far more interesting than the actual game, so don't just write it off as not mattering because the Pro Bowl sucks. The Pro Bowl would be completely pointless if we couldn't argue about who goes.

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