Wednesday, December 28, 2011
NFC East Pro Bowl analysis
By Dan Graziano
Perfect sense: You can argue whether he's even the best quarterback in his division (as you'll see below), but the New York Giants' Eli Manning is having a season worthy of a Pro Bowl spot. He is third in the conference in passing yards and has engineered five fourth-quarter comeback wins for a team that has won only seven games. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy might have been the best running back in the league this season, and there's little doubt that his left tackle, Jason Peters, has been the best in the league at his position. People often make the argument for Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware as the best defensive player in the league, so it's little surprise that he snagged an outside linebacker spot. And a fine recovery for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a worthy pick who made it in spite of not being listed on the fan ballot.
Made it on rep: Eagles defensive end Jason Babin is red-hot and among the league leaders with 18 sacks, but I argue that he's not the best defensive end on his own team, as Trent Cole is the more complete player and Babin likely benefits from the extra attention Cole receives. Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff has flashes of brilliance, but this isn't his most dominant season.
Got robbed: The biggest debate we ever have on the NFC East blog is over Manning and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. This season, Romo has the third-best passer rating in the NFC, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Manning is sixth in that category. Romo also has the third-highest completion percentage in the conference. Manning has the eighth highest. Romo has three more touchdown passes and seven fewer interceptions, and, among important categories, trails Manning only in yards. Those who argue Romo in the Romo-Manning debates have reason to be upset. The Washington Redskins have no Pro Bowlers. If they were to have one, a case could be made for inside linebacker London Fletcher, who leads the league in tackles with 163, or rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Eagles left guard Evan Mathis has been among the best at his position all season. And of course there is Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who ranks seventh in the conference in catches with 76 and second in the conference in receiving yards with 1,358. Cruz's case was hurt by his not being listed on the fan ballot.
Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.