Buccaneers Represented, Snubbed In Pro Bowl Announcement
By Marc Magana
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be represented in the 2016 Pro Bowl by Mike Evans and Gerald McCoy. Both players are deserving – however, we can’t overlook some major snubs.
Well the 2016 Pro Bowl selections have been revealed and guess what? Nothing new. The Pro Bowl is and will continue to be simply a popularity contest. The most well known names will consistently make it regardless of the statistical year they have had. Luke Kuechly made the pro bowl after having only played ten games so far this season. Jordan Reed has only played in eleven games this season so far and also received the pro bowl nod. The Bucs did manage to get two players in from the team that has turned heads most of the season.
The big wide receiver from Texas A&M makes his debut in the Pro Bowl. It’s no secret Mike has been an unstoppable force this year – besides when the Bucs don’t throw to him – catching almost everything in sight. The competition he has faced at cornerback hasn’t been easy, either. Mike has squared off against the likes of Desmond Trufant, Patrick Peterson, Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman. Evans was the first Buccaneer to ever have eight touchdowns through eight games.
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The receiver has amassed 84 receptions for 1,159 yards and ten touchdowns. Mike Evans also averages 13.8 yards per catch and is currently first in the league in first down catches with 72, the next closest being 60. Evans is the fifth receiver in Buccaneers history selected to the Pro Bowl. The Buccaneers have never had a receiver make it more than once, I think this is the first of many for the young and talented wideout.
The Buccaneers bear-huggin’ defensive tackle, also received Pro Bowl recognition for the fifth straight season. McCoy has been one of the cornerstones of this franchise for several years now and continues to receive love as such. Gerald currently has seven sacks – which is good for third in the league by a defensive tackle. McCoy also has two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. With this appearance, McCoy ties Buccaneer all time greats who also have five appearances; Hardy Nickerson, Ronde Barber and John Lynch. Next up on the list are Mike Alstott and Lee Roy Selmon with six appearances. Remember when Pro Football Focus called McCoy‘s contract one of the worst of 2016? Yeah, I wont say anymore. Keep chugging Gerald, keep chugging.
This list seems long…
To me, the biggest snub of the Pro Bowl selections for the Bucs is Kwon Alexander. Kwon has absolutely killed it this season. In his second season, the quarterback of the defense has led what has been a revamped defense – especially as of late. The middle linebacker also scored the first pick-six of his career this season against the Rams. He has more tackles and sacks than Luke Kuechly, who made the Pro Bowl. Regardless, it seems the magic number of seasons is three. McCoy, and now Evans, made their first Pro Bowl appearances in season number three. We will see what next season holds for the tackle machine out of LSU.
The cornerback came over in the off-season to shore up the depth in a weak secondary. Since then, he has found a home on special teams were he has excelled. Bucs fans know all too well, Robinson has been fast to the ball and downed punts routinely. He is tied for second in the league in solo special teams tackles with eleven.
Possibly the most aggregious of the snubs is the lack of respect for tight end Cam Brate. Brate is having a monster season and leads the NFL in touchdown catches by a tight end with seven. He’s been one of Jameis Winston‘s favorite and most reliable targets, hauling in 56 receptions for 648 yards, setting career highs across the board. Brate’s omission – even as an alternate – is unexplicable.
You could certainly list punter Bryan Anger here. Ali Marpet has had an outstanding season and deserved an invite to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately with Marpet, he plays an overlooked position on an overlooked team. With continued success in Tampa Bay, he will gain more of the credit he deserves in due time. It was also surprising to not see Jameis Winston listed as an alternate. He made the Pro Bowl last season as an alternate and is currently on pace to have better numbers than his rookie campaign including the most important one – wins.
Kwon Alexander, Bryan Anger, Lavonte David and Brent Grimes made the list as alternates for the Pro Bowl. With the players listed ahead of them, it is understandable they were listed as alternates. Lavonte hasn’t had his best year, Johnny Hekker has been statistically incredible and Jenkins, Peterson, Sherman and Rhodes are hard to argue with. Anger was the one I was convinced should have been in, but after checking Hekker’s stats, they are hard to argue with. Setting aside everything else, I’m pretty sure all Bucs fans would be happy to hear Bucs players forced to respectfully decline the invitation, hopefully due to other commitments.
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So what’s your take Buccaneers fans? Who do you think was most deserving of a Pro Bowl selection from the Bucs? Do you agree with Evans and McCoy making the cut? Sound off in the comments below.