Last night the NFL announced the squads for the 2012 Pro Bowl squads, in other words naming the players who will appear in a game with pretty much no meaning. That said, it is still an honor for most of the players recognized as pro bowlers.
This year, the Indianapolis Colts have two pro bowlers - wide receiver Reggie Wayne and outside linebacker Robert Mathis. Quarterback Andrew Luck was named a first alternate and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney was named a second alternate.
Wayne has caught 102 passes for 1,315 yards and 5 touchdowns this year, and his impact has been even greater for the veteran on his way to his sixth pro bowl. His leadership has been tremendous and it always seems that when Reggie is involved, the Colts' offense does well. Take the last game, in Kansas City, as an example. When the Colts started to get Reggie involved on what turned out to be the game winning drive, the Colts snapped out of their funk and scored late in the fourth quarter. Re-signing Wayne in the offseason was perhaps the biggest move that general manager Ryan Grigson made this offsesason.
Another big re-signing by Grigson this offseason was of defensive end-turned-linebacker Robert Mathis. With Chuck Pagano bringing the switch to a base 3-4 defense, both Mathis and Dwight Freeney were moved to linebacker, which also brought doubts about how the two would be able to transition. Those doubts about Mathis ceased after the first play of the season, where Mathis brought down the Bears' Jay Cutler for a sack. He added another that game on his way to notching a sack in each of the first five games in which he played, and six of the first seven. For the season, he has eight sacks, a forced fumble, and his first career interception while playing in eleven games (missing some due to injury). Especially early on this season, Mathis had a huge impact on the Colts' defense and in fact helped carry the team early on.
Many thought that Andrew Luck would be named to the pro bowl, as he finished third in the fan voting. Overall, he finished fourth behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Matt Schaub. While he didn't make it in the first place, he in all liklihood will be going to Hawaii for the pro bowl. The chances that the AFC will be represented by either Manning, Brady, or Schaub is very great, meaning that Luck will likely appear in this year's pro bowl. He has had the most successful rookie season by a quarterback in NFL history, shattering many of the previous rookie records and also tying an NFL record for the most game winning drives in a single season (with 7).
Lastly, Dwight Freeney was named a second alternate, per owner Jim Irsay on twitter. That move furthers the opinion that the pro bowl is a joke. At least he didn't make it, but the fact that he is even in the discussion is based on name only. Freeney has not had a good year and, while he has been better as of late, he has not been near pro bowl caliber. 10 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble. That is Freeney's stat line for this entire season. Freeney is a great guy and has consistently been one of the best defenders in the league over the past decade, but this year, he has not been. Freeney likely won't make it to the pro bowl, but he was named a second alternate.
Former Colts named to the Pro Bowl:
Punter Pat McAfee had a great year which was pro bowl worthy, but Dustin Colquitt also had a great year and was hard to argue with. McAfee will make pro bowls in the future - he just has to wait a little longer to make his first one.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman also had a very good year that you could argue was pro bowl worthy. He also will make a pro bowl soon if he keeps up the success he has had this year.