Gostkowski, Chandler Jones big snubs for Pats

Gostkowski, Chandler Jones big snubs for Pats
December 28, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Not being a first-ballot selection for the Pro Bowl doesn’t rise to the level of gross injustice.
But if a guy put the work in, produced results and found another guy going to Hawaii instead? You can’t blame him for kicking rocks.
There are five Patriots with cause to feel they got jobbed when the Pro Bowlers were unveiled Friday night.
Here’s a list from who got screwed the worst to the least screwed. These four can take solace. There’s always the alternate route.
Justin Tucker (Ravens) and Matt Prater (Broncos) got the nod. Tucker went 35 for 38 with a long of 61 on national TV to beat the Lions – one of six field goals he kicked that night. Prater was 23 for 24 with a long of 64. Prater also led the league in touchbacks. But, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk pointed out, Prater’s selection was elevation-aided. The case for Gostkowski is the import and distance of his field goals. He made two fourth-quarter kicks against Buffalo in the opener, turning a 20-17 deficit into a 23-20 win. He hit a 53-yarder as time expired in the first half against Tampa. He hit 48 and 49 yarders at Atlanta – the second one in the fourth quarter of a 30-23 win. He kicked a 54-yarder at the end of the third to break a tie against the Saints. He tied the Jets game with 16 seconds left on a 44-yard field goal (his second of the fourth quarter). He hit s 48-yarder at the end of the third to break a 17-all tie with Miami. He beat the Broncos in overtime with a 31-yarder. He made two 53-yard field goals in the fourth to tie and then beat the Texans. He hit a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against Cleveland then, later in the quarter, executed an onsides kick that was recovered by Kyle Arrington (Gostkowski touching it first). Screwed? Royally.

Chandler Jones not only is fourth among defensive ends with 11.5 sacks, he had 75 tackles as well. Cam Jordan of the Saints, by comparison, has 12.5 sacks and 46 tackles.
Mario Williams? 34 tackles and 13 sacks. Cameron Wake? 35 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Jones and the Jets Muhammad Wilkerson both got jobbed relative to the guys going. The versatility of Jones – playing inside on some third downs, on the edge at other times – makes him that much more valuable. Defensive end is a reputation position and it’s sometimes hard for a player to get a toehold as a first-time Pro Bowler. Bet on Jones next year. Screw level? High.
I’ve said it before. Slot receiver is to wide receiver as fullback is to running back. Fullback – an anachronism – has two players going to Hawaii. Slot? Nobody. It’s all “wide” receivers heading to Hawaii. Meanwhile, Edelman – fourth in the NFL in catches with 96 and certainly more important to his teams’ success than any Pro Bowl selection at the position outside of A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall – sits at home. Edelman got screwed by the process. No slot receiver. There’s only one wideout I can easily make a case for Edelman deserving to be in Hawaii over – Antonio Brown. Brown had 101 catches for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns; Edelman had the 96 for 991 yards and six touchdowns. The Steelers are 7-8. The Patriots are 11-4. Aside from the wideout/slot conversation, Edelman could have been selected as a punt returner but…Antonio Brown. Edelman averaged 11.1 on punt returns; Brown was at 13.4 with a 67-yard touchdown. Dexter McCluster – who returns everything (57 returned with seven fair catches) was the other returner. He averaged 11.5 yards per return and had two TDs. Screwed? Kinda
Six safeties from the two conferences made the Pro Bowl. The NFL splits them into free and strong, although the Patriots don’t necessarily play McCourty as strictly one or the other. Anyway, Troy Polamalu was among the selections for strong safety and Jairus Byrd was among the free safety selections. Polamalu has been running around the secondary like a golden retriever falling for fake throws for about three years. Byrd played 10 games. There are a lot of players at the free safety spot that can feel they had better complete seasons than the talented Byrd and McCourty is one of them. McCourty told me he didn’t expect to make it and was proven right. In the end, he didn’t have the numbers to make anyone open their eyes even though he played very well and helped steady a once-awful secondary. Screwed? A little. Like the other guys who got passed over for Polamalu and Byrd.