Dec 28, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
With a 9-6 record, the second-ranked offense in the NFL, and a defense that’s held 10 of its last 11 opponents to 21 points or less, the Philadelphia Eagles managed to send just two players to the 2014 Pro Bowl. Running back LeSean McCoy and left tackle Jason Peters were beyond worthy candidates, but where’s everybody else?
Beyond that, only three additional Eagles were even named first or second alternates to the Pro Bowl in the event of injuries or players backing out. That just seems like such a low number for a team that’s had such a fun and memorable season. It’s all wrong.
So without further adieu, here are five players that should be in the Pro Bowl this year, and ranked for no real reason at all. Check out the full roster for reference.
5. Nick Foles (63.9 CMP%, 2,628 YDS, 9.0 AVG, 25 TD, 2 INT, 118.7 RAT)
The odds were stacked against Nick Foles from the beginning, seeing as he was only added to the Pro Bowl ballot around December roughly. That’s no excuse though. Foles leads the NFL in yards per attempt and passer rating, and his touchdowns-to-interception ratio is insane. He may not have prolific totals, but only because he’s started in just nine games.
He’s good enough for NFL Most Valuable Player consideration, but not the Pro Bowl? To be fair, all of the quarterbacks who got in are worthy, so choosing someone to bounce is not easy. I’d lean Russell Wilson because he’s thrown for the same amount of touchdowns and only a handful more yards despite playing every game (and because I’m a known Russell Wilson hater).
Foles is a first alternate, and given that one of these quarterbacks will likely be playing in the Super Bowl a week later, that means an invitation will inevitably be extended—unless, of course, the Eagles make it to the big game. Otherwise, Foles will back-door his way into the Pro Bowl anyway.
4. Somebody from the Eagles defense
The Eagles don’t have a traditionally great defense. The unit ranks 30th by the NFL standard of yards, but 16th in points allowed, which is all that really matters. In fact, only three offenses have scored more than 21 points on Philly’s D all season—Denver, San Diego and Minnesota.
So it’s a little baffling that nobody was voted into the Pro Bowl from the Eagles. No first or second alternates were named, either. Trent Cole made a late push, racking up eight sacks in the last seven games, but it wasn’t enough. Cedric Thornton is one of the top run-defending defensive ends in the NFL this season according to Pro Football Focus, but it’s not a glamorous role. And frankly, I can see why nobody from the secondary got in.
The one player you could make a case for though is DeMeco Ryans, the heart and soul of the Birds defense. Inside linebacker is a crowded field, but Ryans had more tackles, sacks, interceptions and pass breakups than Patrick Willis, one of two 49ers representatives at the position this year. Willis seems like a reputation pick, whereas Ryans—a two-time Pro Bowler—is actually enjoying possibly the best season of his career.
3. DeSean Jackson (79 REC, 1,304 YDS, 16.5 AVG, 9 TD)
DeSean Jackson has more receiving yards than Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall, more touchdowns than Antonio Brown and averages more yards per reception than all three of them. Jackson doesn’t belong in over the rest (Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas), but you could easily build a case over any of the other three—yet somehow he’s only a second alternate.
DJacc has made the Pro Bowl when his numbers were far less than what they are this season, so it’s genuinely surprising he was moved to the backburner this year after setting new career highs.
2. Donnie Jones (40.2 NET, 33 IN20)
This one is legitimately confusing. Donnie Jones set an Eagles record with 33 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. His kicks were so vital, so clutch that Jones twice won Special Teams Player of the Week honors—only two other punters took the award once this season.
Here’s where we get lost. St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker, one of the two to get the nod, had nearly half as many kicks downed inside the 20 with 18. Yes, his net average was higher than Jones, indicating he had fewer opportunities to pin opponents deep, but Hekker’s kicks also forced the same number of fair catches (20) while he faced three more returns on six fewer attempts.
1. Evan Mathis
What does Evan Mathis need to do to receive proper recognition on a league-wide scale? Despite being on his way to being the highest-rated guard by metrics site Pro Football Focus for the third year running, Mathis once again will be watching the Royal Rumble Pro Bowl at home like the rest of us. The 10th-year veteran is a second alternate, so at least a few people finally must be starting to take notice.
Without the help of official statistics, offensive line selections are a little more difficult to dispute, but I’ll give it a go. Mathis is a key cog on the top rushing offense in the NFL. Marshal Yanda has been a very good guard for the Baltimore Ravens, but their running game stinks, averaging a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry. That’s not all on one player, but 19 guards have individual run-blocking scores than Yanda this season. Come on.
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