Sometimes, life just ain't fair. Fortunately, sometimes that reality manifests itself in the most meaningless of ways, such as Pro Bowl berths.
Dez Bryant is having more than just a breakthrough season; he's having an all-time great Cowboys season. With 85 yards on Sunday, he'd vault from 7th (currently with 1,311) to 3rd in club history in receiving yards for a season. He already has 12 touchdowns, including one in each of the last seven games, which is good for second in the NFL. He has 88 catches, which ties him for 8th in the league.
Yet, Victor Cruz and Julio Jones took the fourth receiver slot behind Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.
Yes, Bryant's catch total, yardage and touchdown total is greater than both Cruz (82, 1,040, 9) and Jones (76, 1,142, 10). You can kind of see the argument based on the team success of Jones' Atlanta Falcons, kind of, but how is that argument made for Cruz?
Oh, that's right. From NFL.com's announcement article (go here for the full NFC Roster):
Cruz wasn't as strong as last year, but his Chunky Soup ads probably helped.
Also snubbed was the guy that was providing Bryant with all of those yards, quarterback Tony Romo. Romo is having a great year despite his high interception total (16). Unfortunately, that will pretty much kill everyone's chances unless they are passing for both ungodly yardage and touchdown totals. While Romo is threatening 5,000 yards for the year (currently 4,685) his touchdown total is relatively low (26). Truth be told, as Cowboys fans we'd have wanted it to be him, but the seasons of the three QB's selected (Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, RGIII) are really tough to argue against. Romo was looking for (OK, he is probably focusing on the Redskins, we fans were looking for) his fourth Pro Bowl nod.
Of course, with the attrition rate of most Pro Bowl selections, both players will probably be named as the first 30-40 folks drop out of the all-star game for their various reasons.
Who did make the squad?
Ol' Trusty, Jason Witten. Last Sunday, Witten broke the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end with 103. That surpassed his Pro Bowl mate Tony Gonzalez's old record of 102. Witten is 17 yards shy of 1,000 but only has two touchdowns on the season. He's also posting a career low in yards per reception at 9.5, however after such a stunningly difficult start to the season (while playing through a spleen injury) Witten turned things around immensely. After taking off 2011, Witten returns to the Pro Bowl for the eighth time in his 10 seasons.
OLB DeMarcus Ware makes his seventh straight Pro Bowl appearance. Despite struggling with injuries for much of the year, Ware will again play in all 16 games of the season for the eighth straight year. His numbers have dipped in 2012, notching only 11.5 sacks so far, good for 7th in the NFL. Ware has forced a team-high 5 fumbles on the year.
Some might say that Ware earned the nod on reputation, but looking at the sack totals (and honestly, it's a stats-based nomination for this position) he deserves to be there. If you are going to name someone that is snubbed by Ware, it might be his teammate Anthony Spencer.
Spencer has missed two games, but has 10 sacks on the season. His value is more apparent in advanced stats that don't normally get considered for things such as the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Focus says that Spencer has had the best year of any 3-4 OLB, with a cumulative season grade of 24.0 (Ware is only at 5.9). He has 58 tackles (per PFF) to Ware's 30; 51 stops to Ware's 35. The players are neck and neck in pass rush productivity with an 11.2 rating for Ware and 10.5 for Spencer. AS has a league-leading 11.6 Run Stop percentage compared to Ware's 6.1%
Regardless, each year there are snubs and undeservings and each year life goes on. It's a nominal honor that means a lot to bonuses tied into player's contracts more than anything. So, who do you think deserved to go from Dallas?