Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Curious Case of Pro Bowl 2010

So the Pro Bowl rosters were announced yesterday, as were the alternates. I generally don't care about the Pro Bowl as it is a joke. The game itself is clearly the worst of any major sport. It really can't even be considered "football" and should be just turned into a flag football game or trivia contest or something, because risking injury in this exhibition is borderline insane. More than 50% of the players that get voted onto the roster smartly choose not to show up, which in turn creates like 150 guys each year that can call themselves Pro Bowlers. And seriously, I encourage players voted in to show up in street clothes and stand on the sidelines, and sign autographs or whatever, and enjoy the free trip to South Beach. With the way the NFL is structured (no guaranteed contracts), players really shouldn't show up (unlike the NBA or MLB where the opposite is true).

The starters and immediate backups seem generally sensical. I'm sure there are some exceptions but I will leave that to fans of other teams that care. I do care about Packers that were named as starters/reserves/alternates because it does legitimize to some extent how good a player is, especially since coaches and players are 66% of the vote (although probably less than 50% put any thought into it at all, but it is much better than fan voting, because I voted for all Packers). Rodgers, Woodson and Collins being on the roster gets no argument from me. All are deserving. I suppose you could make some solid arguments for some other players. When I saw the rosters, everything was hunky dory, until I saw the Packers that were named alternates.

I presume the alternates are named the same way that the starters and reserves are named. The alternates do not actually get to call themselves "Pro Bowlers" until someone on the roster fakes an injury and needs to be replaced. Historically most of the alternates make it to Hawaii (this year Miami). So this is where I got confused. The named alternates for the Packers were: Clay Matthews (well deserved, at the least. Other than Woodson, probably the most impactful player on the defense), Chad Clifton, Ryan Grant and A.J. Hawk.

Clay Matthews is well deserving. It is pretty tough to evaluate players against each other generally. Especially on defense where statistics don't tell alot of the story. Ten sacks though is pretty good.

Chad Clifton is probably not deserving. He was oft penalized. If I had to go offensive line on the Pack I would probably say Josh Sitton. But o-line is near impossible to evaluate. I can't get too broken up about this.

Ryan Grant. It has been pretty well documented how I feel about him. But putting personal feelings aside, pretending I never saw him play, and just looking at pure numbers this season, he was pretty good. 1,200 yds (3rd in NFC), 10 TDs (4th) and somehow averaged 4.4 yards a carry. Statistically, I guess he deserves this. If you actually watch a Packer game, especially games 1 through 12, you realize that this is a joke. The only time he looks legit is when he doesn't get touched, which didn't start happening (and never happens in GB for some reason) until late November. Before that he was borderline terrible. He's average at best. But I can't really argue with him being named an alternate. Begrudgingly.

The entire reason I wrote this post was A.J. Hawk. I want to preface this by saying that I don't HATE A.J. Hawk. When the Packers drafted Hawk, I could not have had higher hopes. My wife got me a Hawk jersey that I wear every Sunday (because that is what I have, not because I'm still a giant fan). He has cool hair. He was a borderline celebrity because his wife wore that ridiculous jersey to the Ohio St./Notre Dame game. He is a gigantic human being. But if we are going to be honest here, he has been a bit of a disappointment. I don't want to say bust because he has started since day one, and has been an average NFL linebacker. I think we single him out for ridicule because of the high pick, and because of the high pick money he makes. If he was an undrafted free agent, he would not be criticized at all. That being said, it is still possible he doesn't deserve to start (Desmond Bishop was a BEAST in the preseason, and if playing time was based only on those four games, Bishop would be starting instead of not playing at all). This is a bit of a weak argument because I don't think McCarthy is an idiot. I think that if someone was better, Hawk would not be starting. I do think he is AT BEST the third best linebacker on the team behind Matthews and Barnett, and arguably fifth, behind Chillar and Jones. Hawk struggles in coverage, and isn't that impactful in any part of the game. I know statistics don't tell the story, but Hawk is nowhere to be found on the leaderboard in tackles, interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles. On the Packers, Barnett is in the top 20 in the NFC in tackles (only 8 more than Hawk). If there was a stat for being four yards behind a TE in coverage, Hawk would be near the top. If there was a stat for "times you blitzed and got stoned by a RB" he would probably lead the league. If you watch Packer games (and I do), you would realize that Hawk is not a Pro Bowl caliber LB.

This is a dumb argument because these players don't play the same positions for the most part, and there may be more talent at other positions, but if I had to pick other players on the roster more deserving of a Pro Bowl alternate tag than Hawk, they would be as follows : Jermichael Finley, Josh Sitton, Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Nick Barnett, Brad Jones (quite a few sacks, and I don't see him getting completely toasted in coverage), Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush (just kidding), Mason Crosby (not really). Do any of those players really deserve it? I don't know, but they all are in the conversation, and all have had better years than Hawk.

My wife was so incensed by the situation, she sat and tried to figure out how it was possible that he was named an alternate. Here is what she came up with:

1) He is in that United Way commercial with Antonio Gates, so voters must've seen it and assumed he is good.

2) Voters heard that he sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber.

3) He is a semi-celebrity because he is Brady Quinn's brother in-law.

4) He has long hair, and the longer your hair, the better people think you are.

I added:

5) Voters thought we were voting based on tape from 2005 Ohio St. games.


I better get to work, but Bucky dominated Miami last night. That game was nowhere near as competitive as the final score showed, even if they made the ending exciting.


ricky said...

To be fair to Hawk, since I also own his jersey, he has played solid the second half of the year. Linebackers in a 3-4 defense typically will not have as many tackles. Since the Packers like to play a 1-7 defense, that spreads the tackles out even more amongst our 16 linebackers.

That being said, he should not be in consideration.

Juicelaw said...

A.J. Hawk and a Lambeau Field bathroom were prominently invovled in the most homosexual moment between Richard and I. Which is really saying something.

The Sports Bottle said...

Can't you link up that great homosexual moment? I know you told the story on here once.

You can thank me for the Bucky win last night. I was gonna bet on them at +4 but every single time I've bet on a team that I usually root against, they suck dick (see UW vs UWGB or Vikings vs Cardinals).

Bear said...

Just start betting modest amounts, like 5 bucks, against all your teams, then if they win, you lose 5 bucks, but if they lose, you win 5 bucks!

Bear said...

Here's what you were looking for officer