Monday, January 14, 2013
Calvin Johnson's near-unanimous election
By Kevin Seifert
For reasons that still aren't clear to me, the Associated Press released its 2012 All-Pro team on Saturday morning. The news was largely overshadowed by a weekend of divisional playoff games, but we now have a moment to circle back on an issue we didn't hit in our initial post on the topic.
Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was not a unanimous selection despite smashing the NFL record for yards in a season. He received 49 of a possible 50 votes, and I know many of you are wondering how any informed voter could omit him.
The voter was Tim Ryan, the FOX analyst and Sirius Radio host. Ryan told The Sports Xchange that "I look at more than statistics and I thought a couple of other receivers had a better season, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green."
Ryan added: "Johnson was targeted a lot and was often the only thing the Lions had going, but he also dropped a lot of passes and they did lose 12 games. I felt Marshall helped Chicago win games and Green helped Cincinnati win games. I think that is more important than statistics."
I'm not going to pile on Ryan here. I give him credit for defending his decision. Johnson was in fact targeted more times (199) than any receiver in the NFL. Drops are more subjective; Pro Football Focus assigned him 14 (7.0 drop percentage) while ESPN Stats & Information had him for eight (4.0 percent).
A couple of points should be made here. First, Johnson was a runaway member of the most prestigious postseason team honor there is. There are no special awards for being unanimous. It simply doesn't matter.
Second, it's OK in my book to have a group of 50 people with different backgrounds and separate biases in the voting for this award. The broader the spectrum of thought, the more likely it is that the group will land in the right spot in the end. The AP voting is nothing like the Pro Bowl teams. The AP almost always gets it right, or at least lands in a defensible position. If the worst thing you can say about this year's team is that only 96 percent of the group voted for Calvin Johnson, then you're doing just fine.