Earlier on Friday, Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said he wasn’t focused much on the Pro Bowl, the result of a dreadful overall season. Had the Redskins been, say, 12-3 instead of the reverse, his inclusion would have been a lock.
Turns out he was anyway. It says a lot about Williams’ play that he was still voted to the Pro Bowl despite the Redskins’ 3-12 mark. I’ll say this: Williams was not always a shutdown tackle, but a lot of what they do in the run game revolves around his athleticism and ability to get downfield for blocks. He is sometimes asked to do things others can’t. Williams had some excellent games (Green Bay), but other games where he did not play to the same elite level.
What you can count on with Williams, however, is that he’ll play and he takes his role as a team captain seriously. It’s why he played last season despite being 70 percent healthy down the stretch. And it’s why it would take a lot to get him out of any game.
I do think Williams can get better and more consistent. The more he keeps relying on technique and knowledge, the better he’ll become. Williams has worked harder and become a better leader than I would have guessed, knowing the reputation he had in college. But there’s still work to be done. At times this season I wasn’t even sure if he was in the top two at his position in the NFC East -- as much because of the play of others as his own play. Sure enough, both Philadelphia’s Jason Peters and Dallas’ Tyron Smith also earned Pro Bowl nominations. So that speaks well about the division.
Having Williams as a left tackle will give whoever coaches here next season a good deal of comfort.
What these Pro Bowl bids also show is that the Redskins do have a nucleus to build around on offense. Though only Williams will be in the game, for now at least, they did see running back Alfred Morris and receiver Pierre Garcon named as alternates. Defensively, corner DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Brian Orakpo were also so honored. Both played well -- Hall especially in the first half; Orakpo stood out in the second.
Garcon did not make the first team, which was a mild surprise except that there was too much competition at receiver. Though Garcon leads the NFL with 107 receptions -- four more than anyone else -- he only has five touchdown receptions.
Here’s the receiving corps that was voted to the game and their stats: Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (101 catches, eight touchdowns, 1,412 yards); Dallas' Dez Bryant (85 catches, 12 touchdowns, 1,134 yards); Cleveland’s Josh Gordon (80 catches, nine touchdowns, 1,564 yards); Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (94 catches, 10 touchdowns, 1,365 yards); Houston’s Andre Johnson (103 catches, five touchdowns, 1,358 yards); Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (84 catches, 12 touchdowns, 1,492 yards); Chicago’s Brandon Marshall (94 catches, 11 touchdowns, 1,221 yards); and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (86 catches, 12 touchdowns, 1,317 yards).
In the end, Garcon’s productivity in terms of yards and scores did not match up. That does not detract from the sort of season he had, but he could have used more big plays downfield. Of course, you can’t just pin that on him, as it takes more than just him running deeper passes to make that happen. The quarterback has to get time to make that throw, then the quarterback has to complete that throw.
Meanwhile, Morris was the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher, but he failed to make it a year ago as the second-leading rusher. Last season he was considered a product of the zone-read option (a falsehood). This season, he was done in by an offense that moved the ball well (ninth overall) but did not score enough (22nd).
Four of the running backs who made the list finished ahead of Morris: Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Chicago’s Matt Forte. The other two who made it? San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Morris’ lack of production in the pass game hurts him, especially compared to Forte, who had 70 receptions and is an excellent blocker. Morris caught seven passes this season.
The Redskins' defense was going to have a tough time landing anyone. It's 21st in yards allowed but 31st in points. Orakpo has 10 sacks, but to make this team he needed to get hot sooner than he did (with seven sacks in the last seven games). Hall played consistent ball this season and was at his best in the tougher matchups when he could play more physical. He intercepted four passes, returning two for scores in addition to a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
When you're 3-12, it's hard to complain about being snubbed.
Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.