Wednesday, December 26, 2012
AFC East Pro Bowl analysis
By James Walker
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Perfect sense: Most of the seven New England Patriots were easy calls. Quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Wes Welker were immensely productive, as usual, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was stout once again. Even Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made the Pro Bowl despite missing five games with a broken forearm. But Gronkowski still leads AFC tight ends with 10 touchdowns. He averaged a touchdown per game this season. Miami defensive end Cameron Wake made his second Pro Bowl after leading the Dolphins with 15 sacks. Wake also doesn't get enough credit for holding his own against the run in Miami's stout front seven. This nod was well deserved. It also was good to see Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie get credit for his good year by making the Pro Bowl as a reserve. Cromartie really stepped up his game in Darrelle Revis' absence and showed that he is still capable of being a No. 1 corner.
Made it on rep: Most of the selections for the AFC East were solid. However, Patriots guard Logan Mankins wasn't his usual self this season. He came back early from ACL surgery and was bothered by other injuries. Mankins missed six games but was still voted as a starter. Jets safety LaRon Landry has been a bright spot, but I didn't think he had a Pro Bowl year. Still, Landry's 95 tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions are proof that he stayed around the football this year. He will be a free agent this offseason and his price tag for the Jets just went up. New York will have salary-cap issues and could have a hard time keeping Landry.
Got robbed: You would be hard pressed to find a center who had a better season than Mike Pouncey of the Dolphins. Pouncey made tremendous strides in his second year but was snubbed in favor of his twin brother, Maurkice Pouncey, of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chris Myers of the Houston Texans. Mike Pouncey was pivotal in Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's rapid development and tailback Reggie Bush being on pace for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Dolphins punter Brandon Fields is another major snub. Fields has been underrated for years and continues to boom kicks. Fields averaged a career-high 50.3 yards per punt and had 26 land inside the 20. Fields was beaten out by Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt. I also tend to have a soft spot for Buffalo Bills tailback C.J. Spiller. After watching him all season, the eye test tells me Spiller is one of the most dynamic talents in the NFL. But his numbers (1,185 yards, six touchdowns) aren't overly impressive because Spiller didn't get enough opportunities. The Bills are the only AFC East team without a Pro Bowl player.
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