As almost everyone knows, the Chiefs (2-13) are in line for the top pick on the 2013 NFL Draft in April. All they have to do is lose at Denver (12-3) Sunday, as huge 16-point underdogs.
Despite the awful season, the Chiefs still earned five Pro Bowl selections, amazingly, when the NFL announced the rosters for the Pro Bowl yesterday. That is the same amount as the Broncos, two more than the 13-2 Falcons. Eight teams have no representation, including two AFC West rivals Oakland and San Diego. This just heightens the focus on how awful the coaching and QB play has been this year. This team has talent. There is a reason why many were picking the Chiefs to win the division.
Linebackers Derrick Johnson, and Tamba Hali, punter Dustin Colquitt, safety Eric Berry, and running back Jamaal Charles were all named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster and Justin Mayhugh breaks it down for us.
I was shocked just as much as the next guy when I saw that Kansas City had five Pro-Bowlers in a year that has been one of the most depressing I can remember in regards to our beloved Chiefs.
I was actually afraid that a player like Jamaal Charles, who has had a wonderful rushing year despite the Chiefs’ offensive ineptness, would be all but forgotten in regards to individual achievement.
Luckily, Jamaal made the Pro Bowl, a well deserved honor for a running back that has somehow managed to rush for almost 1,500 yards* even with horrible quarterback play, and essentially no other offensive game breakers to take opposing defenses’ attention away from keying in on him.
*Oh, and then there is this.
So, congratulations to Jamaal. He was a no-brainer selection.
For the rest of the Chiefs Pro Bowl selections, I was a bit more skeptical, so I decided to dive into the numbers and see what I could learn.
Tamba Hali, OLB
I’ll admit that my initial reaction when I saw that Tamba had been named to the Pro Bowl was that he was undeserving of such an honor in 2012. I knew his sack totals were down from previous seasons, so I was more than ready to take a look at the numbers to validate my opinion.
Hali currently has 49 total tackles (41 solo, 8 assisted) which places him somewhere outside of the top 10 for outside linebackers this season. To be fair, tackle totals have never been a big part of Tamba’s game. His career best for total tackles was last season, when he collected 66.
Denver’s Wesley Woodyard leads all AFC OLB’s with 3 interceptions this season, and that’s three more than Tamba had in 2012, although in his career, Tamba has only made one interception, so that goose egg is not out of the norm either.
Denver’s Von Miller has forced the most fumbles for an AFC outside linebacker this season with 6. Tamba has 1 forced fumble in 2012, which places him outside of the top 10 in that category as well.
Now to the statistic that makes or breaks a player’s Pro Bowl aspirations: sacks.
As everything currently stands as of today, Tamba has 9 sacks this season, which puts him behind Denver’s Von Miller (17.5), San Diego’s Shaun Phillips (9.5), and oddly enough, his own teammate, Justin Houston (10).
Hali’s numbers are down slightly from what he averages on a year-to-year basis, but ultimately what matters for outside linebackers are the sack numbers, and Tamba is in good standing there, with his 9 sacks being good enough for fourth best for OLBs in the AFC.
The ironic tidbit in regards to whether or not Tamba is worthy of a Pro Bowl selection this season is that his teammate, Justin Houston, has better overall numbers this season and he is the player that probably has the best case for being snubbed by the voters.
Unfortunately, what Justin Houston doesn’t have is name recognition. At least not yet.
So, despite having slightly less productive numbers in 2012, I can live with the Tamba Hali Pro Bowl selection.
My selection: Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Johnson, ILB
Let’s take a look at one of the statistics that matters the most when you’re talking about inside/middle linebacker play: tackles. Johnson made 119 (104 solo, 15 assisted) tackles in 2012. The 119 total tackles is good enough for fourth best among AFC inside linebackers for the season. Mayo leads all ILB/MLB with 142 (85 solo, 57 assist) total tackles. Mayo is followed by the Indianapolis Colts’ Jerrell Freeman (135 T,83 S, 52 A), Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny (129 T,100 S, 29 A), and Miami’s Karlos Dansby (121 T, 95 S, 26 A)
Johnson has 2 sacks this season, which is a decent number for an ILB/MLB. Derrick’s career high for sacks was in 2006, when he finished that season 4.5. Johnson has only recorded more than 2 sacks in season twice. One in 2006, and in 2007 when he recorded 4.
Baltimore’s Dannell Ellerbe leads the AFC with 4.5 sacks in 2012. It’s also interesting to note that Ellerbe has 86 (65 S, 21 A) tackles this year.
Paul Posluszny (JAC), Bryan Scott (BUF), and Lawrence Timmons (PIT) lead all AFC ILB/MLB with 3 interceptions in 2012. Derrick Johnson has recorded zero interceptions this season.
New England’s Brandon Spikes has recorded the most forced fumbles this season with 5 total. Johnson’s numbers are good here, as he’s forced 3 total in 2012, good enough for second among ILB/MLBs.
Looking at the numbers, Johnson definitely has to be considered a legitimate Pro Bowl caliber inside linebacker in the AFC for 2012, although a few other linebackers could easily have slid into Johnson’s Pro Bowl slot.
My selection: Paul Posluszny, MLB, Jacksonville
Dustin Colquitt, P
At first glance, Dustin Colquitt seemed like a shoo-in. Colquitt has been one of the better punters in the NFL for a while now, and he is also on a team with one of the worst offenses in the NFL, so he’s had plenty of opportunities.
A closer look at the numbers shows that there were probably a couple of other candidates that should be representing the AFC this year.
For one, Colquitt doesn’t lead any of the major punter statistics. Dustin has punted 75 times for the Chiefs in 2012, but that’s 12 less than Clevland’s Reggie Hodges, and 11 less than Houston’s Donnie Jones, and Jacksonville’s Bryan Anger.
Colquitt’s average per punt currently stands at 46.9 yards per punt. That gives him the ninth best average in the AFC. Ninth. Miami’s Brandon Fields leads the AFC in yards per punt at 50.
In regards to net average per punt, Colquitt stands at 40.3, which also leaves him with the ninth best average in the AFC. Anger currently holds the best net average with 42.4.
Colquitt has punted for 3,019 total yards in 2012, which leaves him with eight in that category. The punter with the most total yards in 2012? Bryan Anger.
Needless to say, the numbers don’t justify Colquitt’s selection to the AFC Bro Bowl roster.
My selection: Bryan Anger, P, Jacksonville Jaguars.
Eric Berry, SS
Does some of that have to do with the ACL tear he suffered last season? I’m sure it does. Berry hasn’t been the same player we all watched his rookie year in 2010, a year in which he was also named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster.
Let’s take a look at the numbers to see just how undeserving Berry really is this season.
First, let’s look at the tackle numbers. Berry has made 80 (68 solo, 12 assisted) tackles in 2012. Seven other strong safeties in the AFC have better tackle numbers this year, with Baltimore’s Bernard Pollard leading the way with 98 (71 S, 27 A) total tackles.
Berry has 1 interception this season. New England’s Tavon Wilson leads all AFC strong safeties with 4. Five other strong safeties have recorded more INTs than Berry this season, although to his credit, he has more tackles than all of them other than Miami’s Chris Clemons, who has 2 INTs as well as 94 total tackles.
Baltimore’s Pollard leads all AFC strong safeties with 2 sacks in 2012. Berry has recorded zero sacks this year.
The Houston Texan’s Glover Quinn leads all AFC strong safeties with 16 passes defended this season. Berry actually has a solid 11 passes defended in 2012, good enough for second on this list.
Cleveland Browns strong safety TJ Ward leads all all AFC strong safeties with 3 forced fumbles in 2012. Berry has zero forced fumbles this season.
In conclusion, across the board Berry has failed to match the statistics of his rookie season (92 total tackles, 2 sacks, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 9 pass defended), let alone warrant a Pro Bowl selection in 2012.
My selection: Bernard Pollard, strong safety, Baltimore