Were the Bucs robbed in the Pro Bowl vote?

by Gary Shelton on December 25, 2020

in general

David might have a case he deserved the Pro Bowl../TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Let's agree on this: No one cares about the Pro Bowl. You wouldn't watch the Pro Bowl to avoid a rent increase. It's fake football, less interesting than the fourth preseason game. You'd rather watch another Porky's sequel.

What you do care about, however, is who makes the team.

Or, precisely, who does not.

Across the NFL, teams are screaming. Green Bay, which had seven players make it, was outraged at the players who didn't. Seattle, who had seven players in a mediocre season, was miffed. We love our outrage, and if the voters don't love a player as much as we do, then we let people know about it.

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Certainly, the Bucs are in the minority. Across the NFL, there are 12 teams that have won at least nine games -- ensuring them of a winning season -- this year. The average of those teams is 4.4 Pro Bowlers per team; the Bucs got one (as did Miami). Baltimore, Seattle, Green Bay and Kansas City all had seven players make it

As for the Bucs, they can have a meeting in Jason Pierre-Paul's room.

So why so few Bucs in the Pro Bowl? First of all, the easiest way to reach the Pro Bowl is if you've been there before. And Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (who made it last year) were injured much of this season. Shaq Barrett, who made it last year, didn't match his numbers.

But overall, I think the overriding reason was this: There is an air of underachievement to the Bucs. People don't talk about the games Tom Brady has won as much as they talk about those he has lost. The Bucs were so hyped in the off-season that they didn't sneak up on anyone.

Then there is the rest of the league. Fans argue for their own team without considering the competing players across the league.

Ah, but what's the fair number for Tampa Bay? I'd add Lavonte David. Maybe Ali Marpet. But, as we have learned, crying for a recount doesn't always benefit someone, does it?

And so you look at the Bucs, with their one Pro Bowler, and you feel dismissed. I know, I know.

But when you look at it, was it really an outrage that the players who were left off were left off? Or were other players more deserving?

Let's look.

  1. Lavonte David, linebacker: Being snubbed from the Pro Bowl isn't anything new to David, but this year, it's hard to explain. Usually, David misses because he isn't a sack-master like some linebackers, and the Pro Bowl gives more regard to numbers than how much a defense leans on a guy. David missed making the team to Bobby Wagner of Seattle and Fred Warner of San Francisco. No argument with Wagner, who is 15 slots higher in tackles. But David's numbers are better than Warner. How do you explain that one?
    Judgment: David has a legitimate gripe.

2. Tom Brady, quarterback: Brady, who has made 14 of these games, is having a solid year (fifth in yardage, fourth in touchdowns), so the temptation is argue his fate. But both Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have better numbers. The third quarterback, Kyler Murray, is behind Brady, but he has 721 yards rushing.

Judgment: No real complaint.

3. Shaq Barrett, outside linebacker: Barrett has eight sacks, which isn't bad. But he's behind Khalil Mack of the Bears (eighth in the league in tackles), Za'Darius Smith 11 1/2 sacks) and teammate Jason Pierre-Paul (9.5 sacks). Barrett has just missed on several sacks, or otherwise, you could argue for him over Pierre-Paul.

Judgment: No real complaint.

4. Ali Marpet, offensive guard: Marpet's play is overlooked because the Bucs haven't been dependable in running the ball, which may be why he's behind Brandon Scherff of Washington and Eglton Jenkins of Green Bay. Scherff is there primarily, because he's made it before (three times), but Washington is just 6-8.

Judgment: Marpet has a mild complaint.

6. Ronald Jones II, running back: Jones has had a good year, but no, he can't measure up the competition. Dalvin Cook of Minnesota has 500 more yards. Aaron Jones of Green Bay has been more consistent. Alvin Kamara of the Saints doesn't have as many yards, but he's more dynamic in the passing game.

Judgment: No real complaints.

7. Mike Evans, wide receiver: You can understand why Bucs' fans love Evans. He's been very good every year. But this year, his numbers don't measure up. He's 38th in the league in receptions, Davante Adams of Green Bay, DeAndre Hopkins of Arizona, DK Metcalf of Seattle and Justin Jefferson of Minnesota all have better numbers.

Judgment: No argument here.

8. Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle: Wirf's biggest crime is that he's a rookie. He had the all-rookie team, but the Pro Bowl is tough for a tackle. Trent Williams made it for the eighth time, and Terron Armstead of the Saints made his third straight. It was the first Pro Bowl for David Bakhtiari of Green Bay, but he's made all-pro twice.

Judgement: HIs time will come.

9. Carlton Davis III: Davis has slipped to 11th in interceptions. I think his pro Bowl chances ended when he was torched by Kansas City's Tyreek Hill. I wouldn't put him in a class with the Rams' Jalen Ramsey or the Saints Marshon Lattimore. You could make a case for Davis over James Bradberry of the Giants or Jaire Alexander of Green Bay, but not a loud one.

Judgment: Only a mild argument.

10. Devin White, inside linebacker: Who do you like better? White or David? That may be the problem with the Bucs -- voters just couldn't decide between David's leadership and White's impact. White has more Pro Bowls to come, but splitting the vote will always be a problem.

Judgement: Yes, he has a case.

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