Wednesday, December 26, 2012
AFC South Pro Bowl analysis
By Paul Kuharsky
» NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South » AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South
Perfect sense: J.J. Watt, the presumed front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is starting the Pro Bowl, as are left tackle Duane Brown, receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster. They’ve all been stars for the Texans, who are in position to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win at Indianapolis on Sunday. Chris Myers, the Texans' wily veteran center, is a backup behind Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne ranks behind Johnson and A.J. Green, who are the starters, but is part of the four-receiver unit along with New England’s Wes Welker. Wayne's been excellent for a team that shed a lot of veterans and has been a great and productive leader amid a youth movement. Foster’s yards per carry are down nearly half a yard since last year, but with two-fifths of his offensive line replaced, that’s not so bad, and his team is better than Ray Rice's or Jamaal Charles'.
Made it on rep: Johnathan Joseph was fantastic last year and went to his first Pro Bowl. This one is on the coattails of that one. He has dealt with groin and hamstring injuries. He missed two games and struggled badly in several others. Kareem Jackson blossomed on the other side of the Texans’ defense and was more deserving, in my eyes. I can’t say Texans guard Wade Smith made it on reputation. His reputation is for being a workmanlike piece of a line that plays better than the sum of its parts. Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis was good, but not spectacular. I won’t argue against him being in, but I don’t think it would have been a huge insult if he didn’t make it.
Got robbed: Matt Schaub has done a lot of good things this year, including throwing for a remarkable 527 yards against Jacksonville on Oct. 18 in an overtime win. But I would have put Colts rookie Andrew Luck ahead of Schaub as the AFC’s third quarterback, behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. I’m not offended that it didn’t break that way. To me, however, Luck’s year has been more impressive. His offense pushes the ball downfield more than any other in the NFL. He has thrown too many picks, for sure. But seven comeback wins out of 10 team wins just a year after the franchise won only two games is remarkable. Schaub has got a load of talent around him, and you can’t punish him for that. At the same time, Luck has helped make several rookies around him, a patchwork offensive line and even the below-average defense all better than they really are. There are no Titans or Jaguars on the AFC team, and I’m not sure a case can be made that there is anything wrong with that.
Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.