Tuesday, December 28, 2010
AFC East Pro Bowl analysis
By Tim Graham
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Perfect sense: Nobody can argue with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady starting for the AFC. He's setting efficiency records and is the frontrunner for league MVP. Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake was named a starter. He broke out in his second NFL season and leads the league with 14 sacks. Dolphins left tackle Jake Long will start at left tackle, making it three Pro Bowls in three seasons for him.
New York Jets center Nick Mangold, an All-Pro last year, will start. It is also good to see Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson chosen. I feared Ferguson would get overshadowed at such a loaded position. The AFC East placed four offensive linemen -- three starters -- on the squad.
Made it on rep: The biggest surprise for me was Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather. He regressed from last year's Pro Bowl season. He actually lost his job as the starter for a couple weeks in September and might not have started in Week 14 because coaches were unhappy with him. Patriots left guard Logan Mankins didn't play until last month because of a contract squabble, but he was named a starter anyway because he has been phenomenal from the moment he took the field. He deserves to be in the Pro Bowl, but I didn't expect him to be voted a starter. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is another player who slipped significantly since last year's All-Pro season, but he was named a starter anyway.
Got robbed: While "robbed" might be too harsh of a word, the Buffalo Bills' defensive tackle Kyle Williams did have a campaign that was worthy of the Pro Bowl in a vacuum. But there was no way he was going to make the AFC roster ahead of Patriots star Vince Wilfork or Baltimore Ravens behemoth Haloti Ngata. Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour got the third spot. Williams has been dominant when it comes to getting into the backfield, but stopping the run is the primary responsibility for a nose tackle, and the Bills have the NFL's worst run defense. Williams still has the chance to go as an alternate. Jets guard Brandon Moore is another player who deserved recognition but couldn't crack a talented group.
Jets kickoff returner Brad Smith has a 28.6-yard average and two touchdowns, but he couldn't beat out Tennessee Titans return ace Marc Mariani, who has scored kickoff and punt return touchdowns. He's the only player to do that so far this season.
Click here for the complete Pro Bowl list.