The Arizona Cardinals have three players that were named to the 2014 Pro Bowl roster, with four other players as alternates. Patrick Peterson made it for the third straight season, John Abraham made it for the fifth time and with his third team, while Justin Bethel is getting his first shot as a special teamer, joining such names as Sean Morey and Anthony Edwards to represent the team as a specialist.
As alternates, we know that Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington and Larry Fitzgerald are on the list. Finding alternates is a bit more of a task. The league does not publish a list of them and if teams announce their players are alternates, we do not know how far down the list it goes for each player.
Here are some of my thoughts on the way things panned out.
Surprises and snubs:
The first surprise for me was not a huge one, but it did take me by surprise a bit. I did not see John Abraham making the Pro Bowl. He has been a huge boost to the Cardinals, but the fact that he was not a big factor all season, in addition to the fact that he had not been on the squad for a few years, made me think that it was just a nice season.
He was not among the leaders in fan votes. That means he showed up on a lot of player and coach ballots. Perhaps it was how it looked like he was done in the league and how he went from part time player to starter and then big time pass rusher again that caught the eyes of his peers.
Some would say that Calais Campbell not making it is a surprise. He does deserve the spot, but at defensive end, it is a tough thing to get past guys that are more true pass rushers in 4-3 sets. There isn't a defensive end on the roster that doesn't deserve it. I'm okay with an alternate spot for him.
However, there is one travesty, and that is Karlos Dansby getting nothing.
Now, I understand how this works. I really don't have any problem with the guys that made the Pro Bowl at inside linebacker. If I am going to be happy with Larry Fitzgerald making it as an alternate when he hasn't had the best year at his position on the team, then I can't complain when Patrick Willis is on the squad. He is deserving and has so much respect in the league. The same can be said about NaVorro Bowman. Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burfict are having monster years for teams that could go deep into the playoffs, even though Burfict is actually a 4-3 outside linebacker.
My problem is that Dansby didn't even get recognized as an alternate and Daryl Washington did.
You could make the argument that he is worthy of being Defensive Player of the Year, and he isn't good enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate? That is ridiculous. No, he does not have crazy tackle numbers, but he has the most solo tackles. He has four interceptions and two touchdowns. He has 6.5 sacks. NFL.com credits him with 22 passes defended, which is the most by a linebacker and is only bested by three of the best cornerbacks in the league -- Alterraun Verner, Joe Haden and Richard Sherman.
Daryl Washington, while he is very, very talented and earned a Pro Bowl spot last year, missed the first four games of the season because of a suspension. He has 70 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. Extrapolated over 16 games and he still does not match Dansby's production.
And if you watch the games, Washington is not the guy that jumps off the screen at you -- it is Dansby. Dansby has been incredible.
What I wonder is why. How does a 10-year veteran get no respect at all, when he has been a very, very good player his entire career and has had Pro Bowl worthy season in the past? How does a guy that missed four games for irresponsible behavior, has not produced at the same level and only been to one Pro Bowl make the squad over Dansby?
If Washington were a guy like John Abraham or Patrick Willis, or even Vontaze Burfict, I would understand. I know the saying is that you go to the Pro Bowl for the first time a year after your deserve it and you end up going for the last time when you shouldn't, but I don't get why Dansby did not get in. There clearly is something his peers and the coaches around the league don't respect.
Daryl Washington is a Pro Bowl type player. He didn't deserve it this year, though.
Respect for Arizona veterans
Larry Fitzgerald gets a reputation slot for the second year in a row. He has 10 touchdowns and has had a better season than 2012, but even he said it has been an average year. It will take a monster game for him to reach 1000 yards on the season, while Michael Floyd will likely reach 1000. However, Fitz' peers and the coaches in the league still see him as one of the best in the game and continue to give him Pro Bowl love.
You could say that Abraham's addition is because of the same thing.
The other veteran alternate that merits discussion is Darnell Dockett. He is an alternate this year after nothing since 2010. He bounced back nicely after struggling to produce in Ray Horton's system. Dockett has 43 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He has been the disruptive force again we were used to seeing. The rest of the league has seen it and is recognizing him again.
Daryl Washington does it
Now I know I just went off on how Washington does not deserve his spot. However, it is impressive that he did get one after playing only 3/4 of the team's games. When he learned of his suspension, he commented on how he would just have to more in less time to make it. His numbers don't show it, but he has enough respect from those in the league to make it, as he was not among the league leaders in fan votes for his position.
What Cardinals alternates could make it to Hawaii?
Well, injuries happen and players on teams that make the Super Bowl will not be Pro Bowlers. Any of the four alternates viably could get in. However, I think Washington is most likely to get in. All four guys (Willis, Bowman, Kuechly, Burfict) are on teams that definitely could make the Super Bowl. If San Fran makes it, that opens two spots.
Campbell has Greg Hardy and Cameron Jordan that are on teams that could be Super Bowl teams. Dockett and Fitz seem to have the hardest road. The players at those positions are mostly from non-playoff teams, or from teams that don't look like they would be true Super Bowl contenders.
It's your turn. Any burning thoughts on the Pro Bowl results?