Tuesday, December 27, 2011
AFC East Pro Bowl analysis
By James Walker
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Perfect sense: The New England Patriots not only led the AFC East in Pro Bowl players, but they led the entire conference with eight players. New England was tied with the San Francisco 49ers with the most players to make the Pro Bowl. As expected, New England's offense led the way with five players. Quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski were all deserving skill players. Two New York Jets players -- cornerback Darrelle Revis and center Nick Mangold -- also were no-brainers.
Made it on rep: There are very few stud left tackles in the NFL, and it showed again in this year's Pro Bowl voting. Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins and D'Brickashaw Ferguson of the Jets had their most inconsistent seasons and both made the Pro Bowl. Long has battled through injuries and hasn't been his usually dominant self this year. But Long playing at 80 percent is still better than most NFL left tackles. He will miss the Pro Bowl with a biceps injury. Ferguson also underachieved compared to past seasons. The Jets are ranked No. 27 in total offense, and a major reason is Ferguson and the rest of New York's offensive linemen couldn't pass protect or run block consistently over a 16-game season.
Got robbed: For a division that most likely has just one playoff team and maybe only one team with a winning record, it's hard to complain about 13 Pro Bowlers. But if I want to get greedy, there's two additional players I thought should have made the cut. Punter Brandon Fields has been terrific for the Dolphins. Fields averages 48.9 yards per punt. His longest punt was 71 yards and he's kicked 31 inside the 20 this season. But in the AFC it's hard to beat Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler, who is arguably the best in the NFL. Jets linebacker David Harris also had a good year. Harris has 84 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown). But he's one of the more quiet Jets players and doesn't get the recognition he deserves.
Sorry, Bills: There were zero Buffalo Bills players who made the Pro Bowl. Starting running back Fred Jackson was probably their best chance. But Jackson broke his leg after 10 games and is out for the season.
Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.