AFC South: Pro Bowl

Foster critiques NBA All-Star defense

February, 18, 2013
2/18/13
12:48
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If you're going to bash the NFL Pro Bowl for a lack of defense, then Arian Foster thinks it's only fair to do the same to the NBA.

Foster shot off a couple tweets of note Sunday evening while the NBA All-Star Game was being played in Houston.



Both fair points.

Fact is, the era of compelling all-star games is long past. Baseball's was the one with the best chance of maintaining the sort of nostalgia we used to connect to most of these gatherings of a league's top talent. Interleague play killed that. Because we see American League and National League players square off in regular-season play, there is no special quality or meaning to them matching up midseason.

Even if it determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

It's time to come to terms with the fact that none of these all-star games will ever have the allure they once did.

The AFC South in Pro Bowl fan voting

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
12:24
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Updated Pro Bowl voting results are in. Fan votes count one-third, with player votes and coach votes that come later also counting a third.

You can vote here until Monday night’s game between the Jets and Titans finishes up.

Here’s how AFC South players stand in the top five by position:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Wide receivers
Fullbacks
Tight ends
Offensive tackles
Guards
Centers
Defensive ends
Defensive tackles
  • None
Outside linebackers
Inside linebackers
  • None
Cornerbacks
Strong safeties
Free safeties
Kickers
  • None
Punters
Kicker
  • None
Punters
  • None
Kick returners
  • None
Special teamer

Updated Pro Bowl voting numbers

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
11:21
AM ET
Updated Pro Bowl voting numbers are in. Fan votes count one-third with player votes and coach votes that come later also counting a third.

My biggest issues here: Titans safety Jordan Babineaux and Texans guard Antoine Caldwell have been demoted and still rank here. Meanwhile, Duane Brown is widely regarded as the best left tackle in the league to this point, and stands just fourth.

Pleasant surprise: Kareem Jackson, a Texans corner, getting some love, which he deserves.

AWOL: Paul Posluszny of the Jaguars is a top-five inside linebacker but nowhere to be found here.

You can vote here. Balloting will conclude on Monday, December 17 following the conclusion of Monday Night Football. The teams will be announced at 7:00 pm ET on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Here’s how AFC South players stand in the top five by position:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Wide receivers
Fullbacks
Tight ends
Offensive tackles
  • Duane Brown, Houston, fourth
Guards
  • Antoine Caldwell, Houston, third
  • Wade Smith, Houston, fourth
Centers
Defensive ends
Defensive tackles
  • None
Outside linebackers
Inside linebackers
  • None
Cornerbacks
Strong safeties
  • Jordan Babineaux, Tennessee, third
  • Glover Quin, Houston, fourth
Free safeties
Kickers
  • None
Punters

The AFC South in early Pro Bowl voting

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
6:04
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Fan voting for the Pro Bowl tends to be a joke in my eyes.

The evidence so far, from an AFC South perspective:
  • Houston's Duane Brown, who's been just dominating, is fourth among AFC tackles.
  • Houston's Antoine Caldwell, who’s no longer the starter at right tackle, is third among guards.
  • Tennessee's Jordan Babineaux , who recently hasn’t been part of the base defense, is second in strong safeties.

That’s all ridiculous.

Here’s where AFC South players stand in the Top 5 among vote getters so far.

Quarterback
Running back
Fullback
  • James Casey, Houston, second
  • Dwyane Allen, Indianapolis, third
Tight end
Wide receiver
Offensive tackle
  • Duane Brown, Houston, fourth
Guard
  • Antoine Caldwell, Houston, third
  • Wade Smith, Houston, fourth
Center
Defensive end
Defensive tackle
  • None
Outside linebacker
Inside linebacker
  • None
Cornerback
Strong safety
  • Jordan Babineaux, Tennessee, second
  • Glover Quin, Houston, fifth
Free safety
  • None
Kicker
  • None
Punter
Kick returner
  • None
Special-teamer

Reacting to Texans not in Pro Bowl

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
9:30
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The list of Texans Pro Bowl alternates is nine-deep. We don’t know where they rank in the line waiting for invites to Hawaii. But if they don’t go to the Super Bowl, odds are several of them wind up on the AFC’s roster because of drop-outs, injuries and the absence of players from the AFC’s Super Bowl representative.

The guys who could still get in: outside linebacker Connor Barwin, left tackle Duane Brown, outside linebacker Brian Cushing, tight end Owen Daniels, receiver Andre Johnson, returner Jacoby Jones, center Chris Myers, end Antonio Smith and end J.J. Watt.

(Side note: If you are lamenting how some of these guys aren't in, you should also be questioning how Johnson is anywhere close as he's spent most of the season rehabilitating hamstring injuries.)

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes this morning that the “snubs” can help fuel an anger the team needs to funnel into better play. A couple wins now and they’ll gain a lot of the respect they may be lacking at this point.

I think Cushing and Myers should be on the roster. Brown also has a strong case, but the first time a guy is deserving he often doesn’t make it.

Jerome Solomon wondered if suspensions Cushing and Brown have served for violations of the league’s policy against performance-enhancers hurt their candidacies. I feel certain those hurt, and that’s part of the long-term consequences for a positive test for a banned substance no matter your defense.

Writes Solomon:
Brown and Cushing both were suspended for four games of the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Brown says he failed a test after taking a supplement that he didn’t know contained a banned substance. Cushing maintained that his failed test could be explained by his natural body chemistry, as opposed to anything he took.

“I’m not sure if that played a part or not,” Brown told me Tuesday evening. “I think just it is more of getting your name out there, getting on the radar. The guys that made it have been doing it for a long time. I can admit that I’ve been up and down in my career and haven’t put together other solid years like this one.”

That mature response by Brown to disappointing news is a great sign for the Texans, perhaps a better overall development than being named to the AFC roster would have been.

The AFC South in Pro Bowl fan voting

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
2:45
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My anti-Pro Bowl stance has been spelled out in this space multiple times, and I’ve avoided updates on fan voting until now.

But since fan voting ends soon, I figured I’d offer a look of where AFC South players stand. Titans fans will be unhappy as they have no one in the top five anywhere. But who's deserving, really?

Here's everyone from the division who ranks in the top five at his position:
Fan voting counts for one third of the results and runs through Dec. 19. Player voting and coach voting comes later and holds similar weight.

Ultimately remember this: With the Super Bowl participants uninvolved in the game and injured guys and superstars dropping out, a whole bunch of guys who are hardly all-stars will be part of it.

Leach, Scobee win Pro Bowl fan vote

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
2:21
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Final fan vote results for the Pro Bowl are in. They count as one-third towards the final determinations, with coaches and player ballots also counting one-third.

Congrats to everyone on this list, but particularly to Josh Scobee and Vonta Leach, who made late pushes to finish No. 1 at kicker and fullback, respectively. It’s largely a popularity contest, so for a blocking fullback to beat out a guy that carries the ball is an especially big deal.

Quarterback: 1) Tom Brady; 2) Peyton Manning; 3) Philip Rivers; 4) David Garrard

Running back: 1) Arian Foster; 2) Maurice Jones-Drew; 3) Peyton Hillis; 4) Chris Johnson

Wide receiver: 1) Andre Johnson; 2) Reggie Wayne

Fullback: 1) Vonta Leach; 2) Mike Tolbert; 3) Le’Ron McClain; 4) Greg Jones

Tight end: 1) Antonio Gates; 2) Marcedes Lewis

Center: 1) Jeff Saturday

Free safety: 1) Ed Reed; 2) Patrick Chung; 3) Ryan Clark; 4) Antoine Bethea

Kicker: 1) Josh Scobee; 2) Billy Cundiff; 3) Sebastian Janikowski; 4) Adam Vinatieri

Punter: 1) Sam Koch; 2) Shane Lechler; 3) Zoltan Mesko; 4) Pat McAfee

My AFC South Pro Bowlers

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
12:32
PM ET
Fan voting counts for one-third of the Pro Bowl results, which is unfortunate because fans treat it like a popularity contest and botch their part.

I just went and filled out my ballot here. If you’re a reader of the blog network, I rate you as smarter than the average fan and urge you to go vote to offset some people who don’t pay us regular visits.

My endorsements don’t mean a lot. But here’s who got my votes from the AFC South:

Running backs: Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew

Receivers: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne

Fullback: Vonta Leach

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis

Defensive ends: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jason Babin

Defensive tackle: Terrance Knighton

Return man: Marc Mariani

An explanation on a few close calls:
  • I initially had Greg Jones over Leach before talking to two people I respect who gave their nod to the “Leach to the Beach” campaign. Jones is playing great right now, but Leach may be having a better total season.
  • I like what Vince Manuwai's done at left guard for the Jaguars and he may be my favorite/the best offensive lineman in the division right now, but he wasn’t a starter for the first five games.
  • Josh Scobee's been great. But look at Billy Cundiff. He’s right there with Scobee on makes -- minus a 59-yard game-winner -- and he’s on a record pace for touchbacks.

I'm sure you'll find oversights and I look forward to the conversation this sparks.

AFC South Pro Bowl voting standings

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
11:20
AM ET
The Pro Bowl is a fraud. I hate that it’s been so watered down, that the eighth quarterback in a conference can now get in and get the same line on his résumé that a record-setter gets. Thus it’s gotten no attention here.

There is a week left in fan voting. Here’s your one update on where AFC South players stand.

Later this week I hope to tell you who’s worthy of a vote in my eyes.

Then I’ll tell you who gets in and stay away from it as much as possible.

As I’ve said repeatedly, they should call off the game, name the team in a way where there are no alternates needed, give guys that honor and have them all to a giant banquet where MVP and all the big awards are awarded. I’d love a giant, live, skills competition earlier the same day -- fastest man, most accurate quarterback, strongest, etc.

I’ve left off positions where there are no division players in the top five. Fan votes account for one-third of the ballot, with players one-third and coaches one-third. Pro Bowl fan voting will continue online and on web-enabled mobile phones by going to NFL.com/probowl through Monday, December 20. The teams will be announced December 28.

Quarterback

1) Tom Brady; 2) Peyton Manning; 3) Philip Rivers; 4) David Garrard

Running backs

1) Arian Foster; 2) Peyton Hillis; 3) Chris Johnson; 4) Maurice Jones-Drew

Wide receivers

1) Andre Johnson; 2) Reggie Wayne

Fullbacks

1) LeRon McClain; 2) Mike Tolbert; 3) Vonta Leach; 4) Tony Richardson; 5) Greg Jones

Tight ends

1) Antonio Gates; 2) Marcedes Lewis

Center

1) Jeff Saturday

Defensive ends

1) Dwight Freeney; 2) Mario Williams; 3) Robert Mathis

Free safeties

1) Ed Reed; 2) Ryan Clark; 3) Patrick Chung; 4) Brian Dawkins; 5) Antoine Bethea

Kicker

1) Sebastian Janikowski; 2) Adam Vinatieri; 3) Josh Scobee

Punter

1) Shane Lechler; 2) Zoltan Mesko; 3) Pat McAfee

Special teamer

1) Keyaron Fox; 2) Jacob Tamme

Pro Bowl Watch: Matt Schaub

January, 28, 2010
1/28/10
1:00
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Pro Bowl Watch: AFC » East | West | North | South  NFC » East | West | North | South

In previous seasons, Matt Schaub's misfortunes have been related to cheap hits and injuries no one would have played through.

This season he encountered a different kind. First, the Texans' inability to get the last AFC playoff slot, when it was in range.

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireMatt Schaub threw for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2009.
Second, to produce a career season that coincided with Peyton Manning's fourth MVP year and Chris Johnson's 2,000-yard season.

When you throw for a league-high 4,770 yards and don't get considered for offensive player of the year because of what players in your own division have done, that's a little tough.

It was the sixth-best passing yardage season in league history. Remember when Daunte Culpepper went crazy in 2004? He was a giant story. Schaub's year was better than that, and also topped Dan Marino's second-best year.

I believe Schaub has now established himself as a player who deserves mention at the back end of the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. He's not far off from Aaron Rodgers, who ranks as the top up-and-comer in many people's eyes.

With Manning in the Super Bowl, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger bowing out because of injury, Schaub's in line to start for the AFC in Sunday's Pro Bowl.

It's not the biggest spotlight he's going to earn before he's finishes in Houston.

Here a review of Schaub's season from Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.:


"Extremely successful. I was very torn as to who should have gotten the third quarterback spot in the Pro Bowl for the AFC between Roethlisberger, Brady and Schaub. He stayed healthy, which is gigantic for him. He was consistently productive, even after Owen Daniels went down, which should have crippled that passing game much more than it really did. After that injury, remember, they had no running game and really only one true receiving weapon in Andre Johnson. While QBs get too much credit and too much blame for such things, I also think it was very impressive that the Texans made a late-season run and did finally get over .500. Would grade his season as an A-minus."

Monday Chris Johnson's conference call from the Pro Bowl was cancelled due to technical difficulties. Wednesday he admitted the long wait was because he fell asleep after practice.

Here's the news story of what he said about Earnest Byner's firing and Kennedy Pola's hiring.

As for the delay when he made a commitment...

Johnson’s an engaging and likeable guy, but he apparently still needs to learn that an 11:00 appointment doesn’t have a built in nap cushion.

When an appearance during the season on the Dan Patrick Show also interrupted sleep, the show quickly cut him off and spent time he could have been winning over fans on a national scale complimenting his play and dissing his interview skills and preparedness.

Wednesday, he put a well-respected league official in a terrible spot and helped a lot of cell phone companies log a lot of minutes while reporters talked among themselves.

Schaub in Pro Bowl; Mawae next?

January, 20, 2010
1/20/10
3:43
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Tom Brady's out, Matt Schaub's in.

The Texans quarterback is officially a Pro Bowler now. Ben Roethlisberger was the first alternate, but a shoulder injury prompted him to pass.

Schaub certainly posted Pro Bowl numbers. But as you know, I hate the watering down of the rosters.

We can expect another new Pro Bowler from the division too: Titans center Kevin Mawae.

He said after the teams were announced that he was the first alternate, and since one of the two players in front of him -- the Jets Nick Mangold or the Colts Jeff Saturday -- will be in the Super Bowl, Mawae’s in the Pro Bowl unless he declines an invitation.

If the Colts beat the Jets in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday in Indianapolis, another five AFC players will gain the honor. That’s because in addition to Saturday, the Colts’ five other Pro Bowlers – Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis -- will have Super Bowl obligations that make them non-entities for the league’s all star game.

So top alternates at quarterback, receiver, tight end, center and defensive end have a strong Colts’ rooting interest Sunday.

Top alternates at tackle, guard and cornerback will inherit spots if the Jets advance.

AFC South Pro Bowl analysis

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
7:29
PM ET
» NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: If the Colts aren’t in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning will throw to familiar top targets Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and turn to hand off to familiar foes, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. Opposite Wayne, Manning will look to Andre Johnson. The AFC South is well represented at the skill positions with explosive play-makers, led by Manning, Johnson and Johnson.

I was pleased to see rookie Brian Cushing break through. It’s difficult for 4-3 outside linebackers to get noticed, but he got the backup spot behind two great 3-4 guys, Elvis Dumervil and James Harrison.

Made it on rep: I don’t know who was more deserving than Mario Williams, but he has not been the terror that’s come to be expected, likely because a shoulder injury hindered him more than was let on. He still dictated protections and made tackles and quarterbacks worry. But when his final résumé is written, this isn’t going to rank as one of his top seasons. He’s said himself during the season that he knew he could and needed to play better.

Got robbed: Antoine Bethea didn’t get in front of playmakers Ed Reed and rookie Jairus Byrd. In a secondary scrambled by injuries, Bethea was a consistent settling force for a defense that currently ranks seventh in points allowed.

Michael Roos started with a bad game but played well for a team that has a running back on the verge of 2,000 yards and hasn’t allowed many sacks.

I’d expect Matt Schaub’s in line as the top alternate at quarterback. I can see him not getting a nod over Manning and Philip Rivers. Houston’s got a reasonable debate about Schaub (more yards, slightly better passer rating) versus Tom Brady, but Brady’s got a bigger rep to go with one more touchdown and two fewer interceptions, not to mention two more wins. They go head to head Sunday.

AFC South in final Pro Bowl fan vote

December, 22, 2009
12/22/09
5:55
PM ET
Here is the final fan voting for the Pro Bowl as it pertains to AFC South players. It counts one third with ballots from player and coaches also factored into results we’ll learn Dec. 29.

AFC South players accounted for five of the top 10 vote getters. Details below.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning first. He finished first in overall voting with 1,545,642,

Running back: Chris Johnson first; Maurice Jones-Drew third. Johnson was seventh overall.

Fullback: None.

Receiver: Andre Johnson first; Reggie Wayne second. Johnson was ninth overall, Wayne 10th.

Tight end: Dallas Clark first. He’s sixth overall.

Center: Jeff Saturday first; Kevin Mawae fourth.

Tackles: Ryan Diem, fifth.

Guards: Mike Pollak third; Ryan Lilja fourth. (Pollak-related rant from earlier in this process here. He’s been benched for several weeks. Great job voters!)

Cornerback: None.

Free safety: Antoine Bethea, second.

Strong safety: Melvin Bullitt, fourth.

Inside linebacker: Gary Brackett, fourth; DeMeco Ryans, fifth.

Outside linebacker: None

Defensive end: Dwight Freeney, first; Mario Williams, second; Robert Mathis, third.

Defensive tackles: Antonio Johnson, fifth.

Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, first; Rob Bironas, fifth. (Vinatieri-related rant from earlier in this process here. He played in five games this season. Great job voters!)

Punter: Pat McAfee, fourth.

Kick returner: None

Special teamer: Bullitt, third.

Pro Bowl fan voting update

December, 15, 2009
12/15/09
2:06
PM ET
Here is your updated fan voting for the Pro Bowl as it pertains to AFC South players. I will not rant again about Mike Pollak or Adam Vinatieri, instead sending you here and here.

Pro Bowl teams are announced Dec. 29. Fan voting accounts for one third of the results and run through Dec. 21, here.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning first. He’s third in overall voting behind Drew Brees and Brett Favre.

Running back: Chris Johnson second; Maurice Jones-Drew third. Johnson is ninth overall.

Receiver: Andre Johnson first; Reggie Wayne second. Johnson is 10th overall.

Tight end: Dallas Clark first. He’s seventh overall.

Center: Jeff Saturday first; Kevin Mawae fifth.

Tackles: Ryan Diem, fourth; Charlie Johnson, fifth.

Guards: Mike Pollak third; Ryan Lilja fourth.

Cornerback: None.

Free safety: Antoine Bethea, second.

Strong safety: Melvin Bullitt, fourth.

Inside linebacker: Gary Brackett, fourth; DeMeco Ryans, fifth.

Outside linebacker: None

Defensive end: Dwight Freeney, first; Mario Williams, second; Robert Mathis, third.

Defensive tackles: Antonio Johnson, fifth.

Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, first.

Punter: Pat McAfee, third.

Kick returner: None

Special teamer: Bullitt, fourth.

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