Every year, we have some reason to complain about the Pro Bowl. It’s like fretting about the weather, and with the same result: No change and a lot of bitterness.
It’s hard for me to remember a year where more worthy players from the Falcons didn’t make the Pro Bowl than this one, and while acknowledging that won’t change a thing, it is a time-honored tradition to bellyache about it. I’m going to now, after noting that I’m incredibly happy for Kyle Pitts (who is going to make a lot of Pro Bowls) and Josh Harris (who has deserved this kind of recognition for a long time).
Let’s start with the list of worthy players, all of whom are thankfully alternates, at the very least. ESPN’s Mike Rothstein did a nice job of rounding them all up.
Just got off a plane — Falcons rookie TE Kyle Pitts and LS Josh Harris named to the 2022 Pro Bowl.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 23, 2021
Cordarrelle Patterson (1st as returner, 5th as RB).
Younghoe Koo (2nd at K)
Keith Smith (2nd at FB)
Grady Jarrett (4th at DT)
A.J. Terrell (4th at CB)
Terrell being a fourth alternate is gobsmacking, as Scott Bair wrote. He’s simply been one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, locking down his man in most games and ranking among the very best in everything from yards allowed to completion percentage. Terrell has been truly elite in his second year and has taken a leap that not even someone like me, who thought he cashed in a fine rookie season and had a ton of promise, could have expected. He should’ve been in.
Patterson, too, feels like a huge snub. He’s fifth in the NFL in combined total yards (rushing, receiving and kick return, in his case) and has been one of the most electrifying players in the entire NFL, a killer story as well as a tremendous player. The fact that he’s worked as a runner and receiver and doesn’t have the huge yardage totals in either area likely worked against him, but he was a deserving choice.
Chris Lindstrom not even being an alternate is sort of mind-blowing as well, given that he’s been one of the NFL’s better guards, but I fully understand that offensive line more than any other position group tends to be weird and full of familiar names every year. Perhaps growing recognition of his talent will help him next year. Koo and Smith have both been terrific all year and Jarrett has been solid-to-terrific all year, as well.
The Pro Bowl may not matter much in the grand scheme of things—the game itself is a glorified exhibition and players on contending teams simply don’t play in it, by and large—but down the line Pro Bowls tend to get used as a kind of shorthand for how good a player’s career was and seems like a good time. It can also have financial implications for the players themselves, which is where a snub ends up being really impactful in contract negotiations and within existing contracts where Pro Bowl picks mean extra cash.
Not how most players view it. Pro Bowl you get to go to a cool location for a week and hang out with the best in the game. You also get paid for the game itself. All-Pro is more prestigious to some but you get announced and that’s that. Pro Bowl has tangible, immediate benefits. https://t.co/DAHHeAxRUO— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) December 23, 2021
I know nothing’s going to change by writing it and that getting even mildly heated about the Pro Bowl just feeds the league’s perpetual interest machine, but it’s still a huge shame Falcons like Terrell and Patterson didn’t get in. Let’s hope they make All-Pro when the dust settles on the 2021 season.