After watching the Chiefs and 49ers punch their tickets to the Super Bowl yesterday, we’re now left with this awkward, two-week pause between any real football action aside from the Pro Bowl. What better time to reflect on a game that has absolutely no bearing on this season or the next?
Jokes aside, The Pro Bowl has become a bit too gimmicky for my taste and has pretty much turned into flag football for all intents and purposes, but it’s always fun to analyze the overall rosters and see who should have been included and maybe who shouldn’t have. I’ve highlighted five players that got snubbed and are deserving of being able to represent their team in the Pro Bowl, and one overrated selection to the Pro Bowl as well.
Josh Jacobs RB, Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs has found a home with the Raiders. The (now Las Vegas) Raiders badly needed a bellcow running back, and Jacobs filled that void very nicely to the tune of 1150 rushing yards at 4.8 yards per carry. He actually outgained the third-selected Pro Bowl running back in Mark Ingram, but didn’t score as many touchdowns and wasn’t attached to a powerhouse team like Baltimore, which likely led to why he wasn’t selected.
The only other knock on Jacobs was that he wasn’t the most durable throughout the year, sustaining various knicks and bumps but never being out for a prolonged period of time. If the Raiders get smart and realize how skilled Jacobs is in the receiving game as well, I have no doubt he’ll be going to his first Pro Bowl next year. Open up this offense a little bit with a new shiny rookie WR1 (there are plenty of those in this upcoming draft) and maybe a new quarterback…? And suddenly, Jacobs would be set to thrive in year two. The sky is the limit for this gifted back out of Alabama that still hasn’t even turned 22 years old yet.
Aaron Jones RB, Green Bay Packers
I’m trying to remember the last time a running back scored 19 touchdowns in a season and wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl. Green Bay was another team that desperately needed a workhorse running back to take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers, and the other Aaron did just that. Not only did he prove his worth on the ground by eclipsing 1000 yards while in a committee most of the year with Jamaal WIlliams, he was also a deadly receiving weapon out of the backfield, catching three touchdowns and falling just one shy of 50 receptions on the year.
Having just eclipsed 1500 scrimmage yards for the first time in his career this year, I don’t see any reason why he can’t hit that number again. Still just 25 years old, Jones is just now entering his prime and should continue to see his stock rise when the 2020 season rolls around.
Kenny Golladay WR, Detroit Lions
Kenny Golladay experienced a level-up this year. Although he was no slouch on the stat sheet last year, he gave us a tremendous encore in 2019, racking up nearly 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 65 catches. His yards per reception of 18.3 is particularly impressive considering he’s a bigger bodied wide receiver that has to compete for targets with equally skilled deep threat Marvin Jones in a “run first” offense.
Golladay should have made the Pro Bowl simply on the basis of having a great season like this without his main quarterback Matthew Stafford for half the year. He proved that he’s as reliable a WR1 as there is no matter who’s throwing him the football. Very few receivers have been able to deal with quarterback shuffles as well as he did this year, and aside from Deandre Hopkins a few years ago I don’t know if there’s anyone better at doing so. Keep that smooth jazz going, Kenny G.
Demario Davis LB, New Orleans Saints
Demario Davis just seems to have “it”. Whatever you want to call it, whether it be an “X-factor” or just killer instincts, Davis has whatever “it” is. For seemingly every play on defense for the Saints this year, Davis appeared to be involved somehow.
Whether it was rushing the passer (17 pass rush wins and 3 sacks), defending the pass (10 passes defensed), or just getting the tackle (98 tackles, 9.5 for loss), Davis was a key cog in the Saints defense and proved himself to be Mr. Everything. Having a disruptive presence in the middle of the field like that was one of the main reasons the Saints were able to go 13-3, and also not lose a single game while Drew Brees was out with a serious thumb injury.
Tyrann Mathieu S, Kansas City Chiefs
Simply put, the Chiefs would not be in the Super Bowl without the Honey Badger. As a Cardinals fan, I was very sad to see him go, because what we saw out of him in 2019 is the disruptive, hybrid-position-playing force that Cardinals fans came to know and love for the first few years of his career. His overall story is quite remarkable as well, as he had to overcome a litany of obstacles and objections just to get to the NFL in one piece.
Mathieu is technically listed as a safety, but it would frankly take less time to list what he doesn’t do on defense. He can play either safety position, he can line up in coverage, he can rush the passer, and he is one of the hardest hitters in the game today, with this play in Sunday’s game showing further evidence of this.
Kansas City’s defense was quite anemic before he came to town, and he injected some much needed life and swagger into this unit that has gotten better and better as the season has gone on. At just 5’9”, he is one of the smaller defensive players you’ll see, but his impact sure isn’t. He definitely deserves not only a Pro Bowl nod, but also the chance to hoist that evasive Lombardi Trophy in Miami come February.
Most overrated Pro Bowl selection: Aaron Rodgers QB, Green Bay Packers
While there’s no denying how prolific Rodgers’s career has been in Green Bay, this selection absolutely floored me. This was one of Rodgers’s worst statistical years in recent memory, as the poor wide receiver depth of Green Bay routinely caused problems for him whenever he wasn’t targeting Davante Adams. This led to him hyper-targeting Adams as the year went on, further limiting the usually-prolific Green Bay offense.
The playoffs didn’t serve him much better, as they barely beat a severely undermanned Seattle team that had one less week of rest and preparation, and they barely went out with a whimper as the 49ers shellacked them in the NFC Championship game. While we probably haven’t seen the last of surgically accurate, back-shoulder fade throwing Aaron Rodgers, you have to wonder how many good years he has left at age 36.
Picture Source: Nfl.com
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