Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are two of the biggest stars in the NFL, very arguably the biggest, and they are each having fine seasons. However, neither deserved to be named to the Pro Bowl rosters, announced Tuesday, over other quarterbacks with better 2018 résumés.
The selection of Rodgers, in particular, appeared to be based more on his popularity and reputation than on his play this season. The Pro Bowl rosters were determined by votes from NFL coaches, players and fans, the totals from each of which were weighted evenly for a three-way split.
Brady had a better case for inclusion, in part because of his Patriots’ superior record to the Packers but also because he has superior overall numbers to Rodgers. With each conference’s Pro Bowl roster featuring three quarterbacks, Brady was joined in the AFC by the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, while the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Rams’ Jared Goff were tabbed to accompany their fellow NFC signal-caller to Orlando, where the game will be staged.
Of course, many players elect to skip the game for various reasons, and Rodgers, who has been nursing knee and groin injuries, seems likely to make that choice. Given that his Packers are already out of the playoff race, he might even get shut down before this season ends, while all the other Pro Bowl quarterbacks could find themselves in the Super Bowl and happily removed from consideration for the NFL’s annual all-star game, which takes place the week before.
Thus quarterbacks such as the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan could easily become Pro Bowlers, but as of Tuesday evening, they had reason to feel snubbed.
This despite the fact that Ryan has presided over a disastrous, 5-9 campaign in Atlanta. By that standard, though, Rodgers’s Packers have only barely been better, at 5-8-1, and at least Ryan hasn’t seen his head coach suffer an in-season firing (yet).
Meanwhile, over nearly an identical number of attempts, Ryan has easily bested Rodgers in such major passing categories as yards (4,307-3,974), completion percentage (69.9-61.8), touchdowns (30-23), rating (107.6-97.2) and adjusted net yards per attempt (7.53-6.94).
Rodgers has thrown fewer interceptions than Ryan (2-6), leads the NFL with an 0.4 interception rate and just went a league-record 402 consecutive attempts without being picked off. His touchdown percentage, however is far lower than Ryan’s (4.3-5.6), as is his QBR (54.8-70.5).
For his part, Luck is enjoying a season that has made him a front-runner for comeback player of the year honors, given how he has overcome major issues with his throwing shoulder. The 29-year-old, who saw his Colts go 4-12 without him last season, has led Indianapolis to an 8-6 record, just behind the Patriots’ mark of 9-5, and the thick of the AFC wild-card chase.
Brady has thrown fewer interceptions, nine, to Luck’s 13, and he has a slight edge in passing yards on fewer attempts, plus a notable advantage in adjusted net yards per attempt (7.37-6.85), which takes into account touchdowns, interceptions and sacks.
Luck, though, leads the NFL in sack percentage (2.8), and he has better numbers than Brady in completion percentage (67.3-65.9), touchdowns (34-24) and rating (98.4-97.6). In the latter category, both are well behind Mahomes (114.8) and Rivers (112.4), who themselves are only behind Brees (116.8) among qualified NFL passers.
Another NFC quarterback who arguably should have made the Pro Bowl ahead of Rodgers is the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, who has significantly fewer passing yards in his team’s run-heavy attack (3,025-3,974), but more touchdowns (31-23) and a far higher completion percentage (66.3) and passer rating (111.6-97.2). Oh, and Seattle is 8-6 to Green Bay’s aforementioned 5-8-1.
Brees led all players in fan voting at 1,270,631, with Mahomes next at 1,197,370 votes and the Giants’ rookie sensation, running back Saquon Barkley (987,562 votes), in third. Goff was fifth at 838,561, behind a Rams teammate, running back Todd Gurley (957,052).
Naturally, quarterback was hardly the only position where Pro Bowl snubs could be lamented. According to Pro Football Focus, other players who should have been selected include Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger, Eagles center Jason Kelce and Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, and the website asserted that Kansas City right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was far more deserving of recognition than the team’s left tackle and Pro Bowl honoree, Eric Fisher.
PFF even identified a Packer, left tackle David Bakhtiari, who was robbed of a roster spot (unlike a certain insurance-pitching teammate), and ESPN agreed with that assessment. Of course, though, it’s the glamour positions such as quarterback that will stir debate, and it says here that Rodgers and Brady should have been left out of this year’s conversation.
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