Marshall wants playoffs, not Pro Bowl
December, 27, 2012
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall doesn't want the Pro Bowl to be his postseason this year.LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Receiver Brandon Marshall appreciated being elected to his fourth Pro Bowl, but he explained Thursday he considers a berth in the playoffs "more important" at this stage of his career, while linebacker Lance Briggs refused to cry snub after not being named to the NFL's annual all-star game for the first time since 2004.
The NFL announced its Pro Bowl team on Wednesday, and five Chicago Bears will represent the NFC in cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, defensive end Julius Peppers, defensive tackle Henry Melton and Marshall.
"It's always an honor to be voted in by your peers and coaches around the league," Marshall said. "Fortunately, it's my fourth time. But unfortunately, it's been my playoffs. The Pro Bowl is great. It's a blast. You have a good time out there. But I'm ready to get to the playoffs. Hopefully, those (Pro Bowl) tickets go unused, and we'll see what happens."
Having made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four years, in addition to ranking second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,466) and third in receptions (113), Marshall -- despite seven years in the NFL -- has never played on a team that advanced to the postseason. At 9-6, the Chicago Bears still have a shot at making it into the playoffs provided they beat Detroit on Sunday and the Green Bay Packers defeat the Minnesota Vikings.
Marshall couldn't put into words what a playoff berth would mean to him personally.
"Ask me that question once it happens," he said. "It may be like a Super Bowl berth-type reaction for me. Hopefully, Sunday is a good day for us. We'll see. We've got to control what we can control, and that's beating Detroit. It would mean the world to me to get to the postseason. Yeah, I'm hungry for that."
Briggs, meanwhile, called missing out on the opportunity to make the Pro Bowl for the eighth-consecutive year "one of those things," but congratulated his peers named to the team, and called "everyone that got voted into the Pro Bowl ... deserving."
"There weren't any traditional outside linebackers in the Pro Bowl, and that's just the way it goes," Briggs said. "It's a vote."
Each of the five linebackers named to the Pro Bowl's NFC squad play on teams that run 3-4 defense. San Francisco's Aldon Smith, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, and Green Bay's Clay Matthews occupy the team's spots at outside linebacker.
The inside linebackers on the NFC team -- Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers -- also play in a 3-4 scheme.
Briggs' current numbers (118 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles) are similar to what he produced in 2011 (147 tackles, one interception), a Pro Bowl season.
Even when Briggs received Pro Bowl recognition at the end of the 2011, the honor seemed a rarity given the other players selected. Briggs and teammate Brian Urlacher were the only 4-3 outside linebackers on either roster for last year's Pro Bowl.
Outside linebackers in 3-4 defenses typically are tasked with rushing the quarterback.
"In this day and age, it's pretty tough for a traditional linebacker to get into the game with the 3-4 (defenses), which to me (there) is still a major question of what an outside linebacker is defined as," Briggs said last December, a day after he was named to the Pro Bowl. "To me, linebackers don't put their hands on the ground and rush the quarterback."