Breaking down the Bucs' Pro Bowl snubs
The Pro Bowl is not the primary measurement of talent in the NFL, but it is a considerable honor.
So, when tough choices are made, leaving deserving players on the outside looking in, it’s worthy of a conversation. And that applies to some of the Bucs who were left out.
With defensive tackle Gerald McCoy the only Bucs player to make the cut, there are several teammates who were passed over.
Receiver Vincent Jackson is among them. He was beaten out by Pro Bowl starters Calvin Johnson (Lions) and Brandon Marshall (Bears), as well as backups Victor Cruz (Giants) and Julio Jones (Falcons). Jackson was named a first alternate, which gives him decent odds of being invited.
Jackson’s qualifications are obvious: He is fourth in total receiving yards (1,334), leads all starting receivers with 19.3 yards per catch and ranks third in the NFL with 23 so-called “big plays” – defined as catches of 20 yards or longer.
Did that warrant a spot on the roster more than Cruz (1,040 yards, 9 TDs) or Jones (1,142, 10 TDs)? It’s not hard to make a case for that. Cruz’s big margin in the fan balloting probably played a big role here.
Running back Doug Martin was aiming to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and just nearly missed out. He, too, is a first alternate.
But Martin’s missing out doesn’t feel like some gross injustice. He has cooled off in recent weeks, taking some of the wind out of his sails after his record-breaking performances in the middle of the season. And running back is a deep position, with the likes of the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson also playing in the NFC.
Martin wasn’t going to beat out Peterson or the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch, so it came down to Martin and the 49ers’ Frank Gore, who did make it. It shouldn’t surprise you that Gore, a veteran with 1,146 yards on a playoff team, got the nod over Martin. Don’t worry. Martin’s fast start to his career suggests he will be in Hawaii before long.
Finally, safety Ronde Barber was a player we thought was going to make it. Having won the fan voting, Barber had an inside track. The players and coaches, however, disagreed. Their voting produced a safety lineup of Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner of the 49ers, along with Earl Thomas of the Seahawks. We take no issue with those selections, given the fact they come from two of the league’s stoutest defenses. All three have been consistent playmakers for their teams, and have helped make their defenses better.
Barber was mired on the league’s worst pass defense, a fact that was hard to overlook when it came to Pro Bowl consideration.