Earlier tonight, the NFL announced the Pro Bowl rosters for this January’s game, and Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and punter Pat McAfee were rightfully selected. But which Colts were snubbed?
There weren’t a ton of Pro Bowl-worthy Colts in the first place, as they’re not a great team and are just 7-7 on the year. But there were a couple that had generated some discussion, and the most obvious Pro Bowl snub for the Colts is quarterback Andrew Luck.
Odds are Luck will wind up being a Pro Bowler after all, since the quarterbacks who made it from the AFC are Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Ben Roethlisberger. We don’t know where Luck falls as an alternate, but there’s absoltuely no reason why he should be any lower than the first alternate. Tom Brady’s usual custom is to drop out, and whichever quarterback is in the Super Bowl won’t play (and it very well could be one of those three from the AFC). So Luck might wind up making the Pro Bowl after all, but it doesn’t ignore the fact that he wasn’t selected initially.
What this should do is put an end to all of the nonsense about Andrew Luck being overrated. It’s common for fans of other teams and some analysts to throw out this absurd notion that Luck is overrated, normally based on his turnover numbers or his bad 2015 campaign. But this year, he’s protected the football and been back to his normal self - that is, a very good quarterback. Luck has completed 63.7% of his passes for 3,631 yards (7.6 yards per attempt), 27 touchdowns, and just ten interceptions for a passer rating of 97.1, also rushing for 312 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Luck is sixth in the NFL in passing yards per game (second in the AFC), eighth in passer rating (second in the AFC), fifth in touchdown passes (second in the AFC), and tenth in yards per attempt (fifth in the AFC) despite being among the most-sacked/hit quarterbacks, dealing with a lot of drops, and having a bad defense - and Luck is also seventh among NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards and fifth among quarterbacks in yards per rushing attempt.
Andrew Luck has had a very good season, and at worst he’s been probably the fourth-best quarterback in the AFC behind Brady, Carr, and Roethlisberger. So even if you think Luck isn’t deserving of a Pro Bowl spot, he wasn’t selected to the game in the first place this year! Those saying Luck is overrated are running out of ground to stand on, because not only has he been terrific this year and proven that he’s a top-tier quarterback, he also didn’t even get a Pro Bowl nod for that great year! So while Luck could very well wind up making the game anyway as an alternate, there’s a very reasonable case to be made that he was snubbed.
But what about the other Colts? There are really two others who deserved some consideration, and that’s kicker Adam Vinatieri and outside linebacker Erik Walden.
Vinatieri has had a very good season, as he’s converted 25 of 28 field goal attempts and has made seven of nine kicks from 50+ yards. He’s the seventh-most accurate kicker this year and has the second-most field goals from 50+ yards. He’s been very good, but the problem Vinatieri ran into in the Pro Bowl voting is that another kicker in the AFC has been even better. The Ravens’ Justin Tucker has had a phenomenal year, making 33 of 34 field goals and making all ten kicks from 50+ yards (and all 22 kicks from 40+ yards). He leads the NFL in field goals made, field goal percentage, and 50+ yard field goals, while he’s second in field goals from 40-49 yards out. There’s absolutely no way you could argue Vinatieri should be in over Tucker, and with the return to conference format and only one kicker making it per conference, it winds up being tough luck for Vinatieri after a great year but not a ‘snub.’
As for Erik Walden, he’s racked up the numbers with ten sacks this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s been at a Pro Bowl level. He’s tied for tenth in sacks in the NFL and tied for sixth in the AFC, and with three outside linebackers making it not even Walden’s statistical production warrants a Pro Bowl spot. He’s had a good season, but it hasn’t been a Pro Bowl worthy year. That’s not to take away from what he has done, but only a select number of players can make it and it’s not a surprise nor a big deal that he didn’t.
Really, the only players I thought would or should make it from the Colts were Luck, Hilton, and McAfee, and two of the three made it. Luck was snubbed, but it’s entirely possible he’ll wind up making the game as an alternate. Either way, though, it should hopefully help end that silly notion that he’s overrated.