FAB 3. Evans, JPP Snubbed For The Stupid Pro Bowl
I’ll say it. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were snubbed for the Pro Bowl.
Both have had stellar individual seasons – and keep in mind that the season isn’t even over yet, which is one of my biggest beefs with the Pro Bowl popularity contest. What if Evans explodes for 300 yards and four touchdowns over the last two weeks of the season, and Pierre-Paul goes on a tear and finishes with four sacks over the final two games?
Is a 1,600-yard wide receiver with nine touchdowns not Pro Bowl-caliber? Is a 15.5-sack season not a Pro Bowl-worthy performance by a defensive end?
The Big Takeaway
Why are the Pro Bowl votes turned in and tabulated with two games left in the season? Why not wait until the end of the year? The Pro Bowl doesn’t happen until a full month after the season ends anyways.
That’s not quite as dumb as Major League Baseball, the NHL and the NBA, which have their All-Star Games in the middle of the season. So how a player plays in the second half of the season doesn’t count in those leagues?
Naming Pro Bowlers in Week 14 is like determining who wins or loses in the NFL by who has the lead at the 2:00 warning in a game rather than at the end of the game.
The Stats That Count
Okay, enough bashing the Pro Bowl voting methods. Let’s get to the actual snubs.
Evans has 74 catches for 1,328 yards and his career-high 17.9-yard average is the best among the Top 10 wide receivers in the league. What hurts him is that only Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill (78) has less than 80 catches in the Top 10, while Pro Bowl receivers like Atlanta’s Julio Jones (100), Green Bay’s Devante Adams (100) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (109) all hit the century mark.
Jones’ 1,511 yards leads the league, and despite his six touchdowns, that – along with his reputation – is enough to get him in the Pro Bowl. Adams has 12 touchdowns, which is tied for second most in the league, along with his 1,321 yards, while Thomas has eight scores and 1,267 yards. What hurts Evans is that he only has five touchdowns this season. But what if he winds up with four more over the next two games and pulls ahead of Thomas and Jones? That’s my beef in this statistically-driven popularity contest.
As the first Pro Bowl alternate, Evans could still get in, but it might have to be with the Saints making the Super Bowl, which would cause Thomas to miss the Pro Bowl game.
“I kind of knew like Week 8,” Evans said. “Kind of midway through the season, it’s hard to change that. You’ve got to do something spectacular to get in the conversation. All of the guys that made it are deserving. There were probably a couple of snubs out there.”
Now let’s look at the defensive ends that Pierre-Paul is contending with as the third Pro Bowl alternate. I have no issue with Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter, who is second in the league with 14.5 sacks and one fumble recovery, and New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan, who has 12 sacks and three forced fumbles, going to Orlando.
But Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence, who has just 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and an interception making the Pro Bowl over Pierre-Paul, who has 11.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery? That doesn’t seem right. Playing on America’s Team on a Cowboys squad that appears to be playoff-bound does have its advantages.
The real crime is that Pierre-Paul is the third alternate in the NFC. He should be the second alternate at the very least, because you could make the case that both Seattle’s Frank Clark and Arizona’s Chandler Jones, who each have 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, are also more deserving of a Pro Bowl spot than Lawrence.
If Jordan and the Saints made this year’s Super Bowl it would free up a spot as Jordan wouldn’t be a participant in this year’s all-star game. That, combined with another player who might withdraw due to injury from one of the other defensive end spots, would have put Pierre-Paul in a position to land in his third career Pro Bowl. But as this year’s third Pro Bowl alternate on the NFC list, it’s the longest of long shots that Pierre-Paul makes it to Orlando in his first season in Tampa Bay, and that’s unfortunate.
The FABulous Ending
While the actual Pro Bowl game itself is a joke, the distinction of making the Pro Bowl is important for players and teams. It is a critical factor in eventually determining who makes the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame and players can hit incentive bonuses for making the Pro Bowl. Why the voting doesn’t wait for two more weeks is beyond me, and it might have helped Evans and Pierre-Paul’s cause this year if both Bucs finish the season strong.
Remember when it was announced late in the fourth quarter that Tampa Bay free safety Dexter Jackson was the Super Bowl XXXVII MVP with two interceptions – right before Dwight Smith recorded his second pick-six, which was a Super Bowl record, in the final moments of the Bucs’ win?
Shouldn’t the Super Bowl MVP voting waited until the end of the game? What if Derrick Brooks had his second pick-six in the closing minutes against Oakland?
With all of the modern technology and super computers capable of instant tabulation, can’t the NFL get it right and wait two more weeks to announce its Pro Bowlers? It may cause a few less snubs in the process.