When you look at this year's NFL Pro Bowl clubs your first reaction is: What happened to the NFC quarterbacks?
|Jake Plummer gets snubbed because the AFC is loaded with top QBs. (Getty Images)|
But that's what happens when the best arms are in one conference -- or when Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb are sidelined, and Brett Favre is struggling. The AFC is so loaded at quarterback that Drew Brees and Jake Plummer didn't make it, and until recently, there was a crowd out there leading a Plummer-for-MVP charge.
What's remarkable about Plummer is not what he has done, but what he hasn't done -- namely, throw interceptions. He has six for a team with the second-best record in the conference.
What's remarkable about Brees is that there's still no multiyear offer on the table for him. He has more touchdown passes than NFC passing leader Matt Hasselbeck, and he won 21 of his last 30 regular-season starts.
Yet he's missing from the Pro Bowl, and, no, I wouldn't have chosen anyone but Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, either. It just shows you what a difference it makes when you live in a tough neighborhood.
That doesn't mean there aren't guys out there who don't have complaints. There are. Plenty of them, and the line forms below:
Jonathan Vilma, linebacker, N.Y. Jets: I don't know how you leave him off any team. He's one guy on the Jets having a marvelous year, with a team-high 145 tackles, five deflections and four forced fumbles. Outside of Brian Urlacher, tell me an inside backer having a better season. I'm waiting.
John Henderson, defensive tackle, Jacksonville: Teammate Marcus Stroud makes it, and he doesn't? I'm not sure why. Henderson is having an outstanding season, with more -- no, far more -- tackles and assists than Stroud (66-39), as many sacks (1) and more deflected passes (7-4).
Adewale Ogunleye, defensive end, Chicago: There's a reason the Bears are so tough on defense, and it starts with their front four. Ogunleye's 10 sacks are third-best in the NFC, and he leads a charge that keeps quarterbacks ducking. He's hard to ignore.
Kyle Vanden Bosch, defensive end, Tennessee: A free-agent steal, he has over twice as many sacks (12.5-5) as he did in four years in Arizona and is tied for second in the league, behind Oakland's Derrick Burgess. Unlike Burgess, Vanden Bosch plays every down, and it shows: He's second on the Titans in tackles.
Antonio Pierce, linebacker, N.Y. Giants: He led Washington in tackles last year. He's tied for the Giants lead in tackles this year. He has 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, a touchdown return and a career-best 11 deflections. Not only is he the defensive leader the club was missing, he might just be its best all-around defensive performer, too.
Tarik Glenn, tackle, Indianapolis: I'm sorry, but Jonathan Ogden did not have a stellar season. Glenn did. He can run block. He can pass block. And he's consistent. One reason Peyton Manning seldom is sacked is he knows when to get rid of the ball. Another is Glenn.