The Pro Bowl voting process is far from perfect, and there are snubs every year. Which Tampa Bay Buccaneers deserved to make the Pro Bowl, but didn't?
Gerald McCoy was named to his first Pro Bowl, and it was very deserved. Few defensive tackles have played better this season, and even fewer in the NFC. Five sacks are a decent number, but he's been much more disruptive than his sack numbers would suggest. In addition, he's been the anchor for the best run defense in the league.
But many other Bucs were not given their dues. Let's go over them.
RB Doug Martin
Martin has been absolutely outstanding as a rookie. He is second in the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,766 total yards, trailing only Calving Johnson and Adrian Peterson. His 1,312 rushing yards rank third in the league, while his 454 receiving yards are only topped by Ray Rice (update: among top rushers). He's been everything the Bucs have hoped for: a back who can lead an offense, and who can play and be productive as a receiver, blocker and rusher. Even though his production has fallen off a little in recent weeks, averaging over 100 yards from scrimmage per game can hardly be called disappointing.
And yet, he's been snubbed. No one can really argue with Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch being named to the Pro Bowl over Martin, but the fact that Frank Gore made it is perplexing. Gore has over 150 rushing yards less, although he is averaging more per carry, but he's not nearly as important in the passing game. Doug Martin has twice the yards through the air Gore does, and has been a much more complete back. With over 400 yards of offense more than Gore, it's hard to argue that Martin doesn't deserve to be in.
Still, he should get in the Pro Bowl in the end. Odds are that one of the Vikings, Seahawks and 49ers will make the Super Bowl. If one of them does, Martin will be the first back to be called up. The same will happen if one of them has to miss the Pro Bowl because of injury.
Fourth in the NFL in receiving yards and third in the NFC, and yet he was snubbed in favor of Victor Cruz and Julio Jones. Vincent Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch and almost single-handedly made the Bucs offense from a plodding affair in 2011 into an explosive unit in 2012. He has been one of the best receivers this season, and he didn't make the Pro Bowl.
It's hard to object to Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall making it in, as both have significantly outproduced Jackson. Yet Cruz and Jones fall far behind. Jackson has 1,334 yards on the season, with eight touchdowns and averaging 19.3 yards per reception. Compare Julio Jones, who has 1,142 yards, 10 touchdowns and 15 yards per receptions. Or even worse, Victor Cruz, with 1,040 yards per reception and 9 touchdowns.
It's no contest: Jackson has been much better than either, and should be in the Pro Bowl. But, he won't be. The Falcons could make it to the Super Bowl, yet I hope Jackson will forgive me if that doesn't make me very happy. But the Giants, Bears and Lions are exceedingly unlikely to make it that far, likely leaving Jackson at home instead of in Hawaii the week before the Super Bowl.
Ronde Barber led the NFC in Pro Bowl fan votes at the free safety position, and yet got snubbed in favor of Dashon Goldson and Earl Thomas. I can't really argue with either player, as they've both played well, but I still think Barber's production and consistency (after the first four games) has been remarkable. He's in his first year at a new position, and yet he's genuinely played at a Pro Bowl level -- and he has played better than he has in recent years at cornerback. The transformation is remarkable, and should have come with a Pro Bowl reward. Because Barber isn't first alternate, that's unlikely to happen this year.
See something wrong there? In the current format, it's nearly impossible for a 4-3 outside linebacker to make the Pro Bowl. You could easily make the argument that David has been one of the NFL's best at 4-3 outside linebacker, and yet he can't even make it as an alternate into the Pro Bowl. I don't begrudge the sack masters their Pro Bowl berths, but it's ludicrous that David is even compared to those players, when he plays a completely different position.