When a player is third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, and sixth in touchdowns scored from scrimmage, you’d venture to say they’re one of the best players in the NFL, wouldn’t you?
The fifty media members who voted on the All-Pro teams didn’t think so.
Doug Martin was shut out from the All-Pro team in favor of obvious choices Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, but also by controversial choices Alfred Morris and Jamaal Charles. Furthermore, no other Buccaneers made the All-Pro team, meaning Pro-Bowler Gerald McCoy, and Pro-Bowl alternates Vincent Jackson and Ronde Barber were not included in the first or second team of the NFL All-Pro. I believe that the two offensive players that were not selected have the most to complain about, but let’s take a look at the numbers and facts and consider the Buccaneers who fell short of being named to the most prestigious team in the NFL.
Doug Martin finished second in the NFL in yards from Scrimmage for running backs, behind only Adrian Peterson. He finished fourth among running backs in total touchdowns, as well. These two stats alone place Martin firmly in the top 4 of NFL running backs, but there is one stat that even Buccaneers fans will overlook about the Muscle Hamster. Among NFL runners who carried the ball over 260 times, of which there are 12, Martin is the only one who fumbled fewer than 3 times; he only fumbled once. Martin took care of the football despite being one of the most heavily used running backs in the NFL in 2012.
Martin logged twice as many touchdowns as Jamaal Charles, and over 200 yards from scrimmage more than Alfred Morris. Charles fumbled five times, Morris fumbled four, meaning both players put their teams in a bad place exponentially more than Martin. Morris was completely uninvolved in his team’s passing game, and while Charles was used in the Kansas City aerial attack, he had fewer catches, fewer yards, and did not make the big plays in the passing game that Martin did.
I strongly believe that Martin was the third best running back in the NFL this season, behind the dominance of Adrian Peterson, and the hard running of Marshawn Lynch. Both players were the key to their teams’ success, and are clearly the two best runners in the NFL. Morris and Charles, on the other hand, showed weaknesses compared to Martin. Morris made no plays over 40 yards all year long, and benefited greatly from RGIII’s presence. Charles failed to find the end zone as much as the other players in this discussion, and while he had plenty of yards per carry, he carried a much lighter load in the running game than these other workhorse runners.
As for Vincent Jackson, the argument lies in his explosive playmaking, as compared to players like Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall who thrive on being the only option in their teams passing game. Johnson and Marshall both had over 110 catches, while Jackson had just 72. VJax wound up just 200 yards shy of Johnson, and 120 short of Marshall, and Jackson led the NFL with an explosive 19.2 yards per reception. In fact, he finished 1.4 yards per catch ahead of his closest competitors, speedster Cecil Shorts and San Diego’s Danario Alexander. The closest player to Jackson with more than 60 catches is Calvin Johnson, who is over 3 yards per catch behind the Buccaneers flanker. Jackson was 9th in the NFL in first down receptions with 61, despite being 25th in catches. This means that almost 85 percent of Jackson’s catches translated into first downs, which is the highest percentage amongst the top 25 receivers in terms of receptions in the league.
The media got the wide receiver position a bit more correct than running back, but there is certainly an argument to be made for Jackson. I would concede that Vincent was probably the fifth best wideout in the NFL in 2012, which is certainly still quite the accomplishment. But it’s a shame that Josh Freeman’s inconsistency likely led to the lack of catches needed for Jackson to put up even more impressive numbers, and hopefully Jackson can work just as hard next season and garner even more media attention for being such a fantastic receiver.
McCoy and Barber both had solid seasons, but neither has a serious protest for All-Pro consideration. McCoy was the key factor in a defensive line that led the charge for the best run defense in the NFL, but the players selected ahead of him were certainly worthy. Barber’s Pro Bowl consideration was sentimental and fun, but his impact on the Buccaneers secondary was limited this season as a free safety.
The unfortunate truth is that the 7-9 Buccaneers likely did not earn many looks for the All-Pro team due to their fairly forgettable season. But Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin have even more motivation for 2013, as they seek to prove that they’re squarely among the elite at their positions in this league. And don’t forget that All-Pro caliber guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks will hopefully return to health for 2013, so there is plenty to look forward to for the Buccaneers. Could 2013 see the Buccaneers represented on the All-Pro team? Join in the discussion and let us know what players you think will be up for All-Pro consideration in the upcoming season.
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