No Polite? That Was Rude

With the announcement of the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl teams comes the annual ritual of debating whether the voters (fans, players and coaches) got it right. The Dolphins didn't feature a ton of worthy candidates this season, but one would think they could have done better than placing only one player on the team, that being offensive tackle Jake Long.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't complain too much. After all, Cincinnati is 10-5, has won the AFC North and didn't have a single player selected.

But that's the Bengals and we're concerned here with the Dolphins.

So let's run down the AFC selections with a quick analysis focusing on the Dolphins at those positions.

Quarterbacks

Selections: Peyton Manning (starter), Philip Rivers, Tom Brady

Analysis: Matt Schaub was just as deserving as Brady, if not more. As for the Dolphins, Chad Henne obviously isn't at a Pro Bowl level yet.

Running backs

Selections: Chris Johnson (starter), Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice

Analysis: Johnson and Jones-Drew were slam dunks, and it's hard to argue with Rice as well considering his 5.4 yards per carry and his big receiving totals. It was just too bad for Ricky Williams, whose performance was Pro Bowl worthy but just not good enough to get him past Rice.

Fullback

Selection: Le'Ron McClain

Analysis: Polite got hosed. Plain and simple. Yes, McClain has rushed for more yardage, but he's also been given the ball more often. Polite should have been recognized for his fabulous work on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 and he's also a much better blocker than McClain.

Wide receivers

Selections: Andre Johnson (starter), Reggie Wayne (starter), Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker

Analysis: No problem with any of those choices. It was also pretty obvious no Dolphins players here had any shot.

Tight ends

Selections: Dallas Clark (starter), Antonio Gates

Analysis: Again, tough to argue with those two, and the Dolphins actually got mediocre play out of this position this year.

Offensive tackles

Selections: Jake Long (starter), Ryan Clady (starter), Joe Thomas

Analysis: Three very good players, although the right tackles around the league might scream discrimination. Tennessee's Michael Roos might have had a gripe.

Guards

Selections: Alan Faneca (starter), Logan Mankins (starter), Kris Dielman

Analysis: This is a tough spot to evaluate because players don't play in space. Therefore, reputation really comes into play, and there are a lot of folks suggesting that Faneca made it on reputation. For the Dolphins, they've been rotating their guards in recent weeks, and that's not a recipe to get anybody to the Pro Bowl.

Centers

Selections: Nick Mangold (starter), Jeff Saturday

Analysis: No issue with either Mangold or Saturday. Dolphins center Jake Grove was playing very well through the first 10 games, but his season was sidetracked by an ankle injury sustained in the Nov. 19 game at Carolina.

Defensive ends

Selections: Dwight Freeney (starter), Robert Mathis (starter), Mario Williams

Analysis: It's like Joey Porter said several weeks ago, it's all about the sacks. That's what makes it so difficult for a 3-4 defensive end to make the Pro Bowl. Freeney, Mathis and Williams made the Pro Bowl last year, too, and they all had good years rushing the passer, but Randy Starks probably had close to the same impact for the Dolphins than any of those guys. It also didn't help Starks' cause that he had no reputation coming in. If nothing else, he set himself up for making the team next year if he can have another big season.

Defensive tackles

Selections: Haloti Ngata (starter), Vince Wilfork (starter), Casey Hampton

Analysis: Hampton is a fabulous run stopper, but this really wasn't one of his best years. Dolphins nose tackle Jason Ferguson was effective when he played, but he battled injuries throughout the season until he went out for good in the Carolina game.

Outside linebackers

Selections: Elvis Dumervil (starter), James Harrison (starter), Brian Cushing

Analysis: Can't argue with the selections; it actually was nice to see Cushing recognized even though he's a rookie. As for the Dolphins, neither Joey Porter nor Jason Taylor were consistent enough to make the team.

Inside linebackers

Selections: Ray Lewis (starter), DeMeco Ryans

Analysis: Lewis is at a point in his career where he's almost an automatic regardless of what he does, but he did have a good year. For the Dolphins, the play of Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele was nowhere near Pro Bowl caliber.

Cornerbacks

Selections: Nnamdi Asomugha (starter), Darrelle Revis (starter), Champ Bailey

Analysis: Bailey is one of the best cornerbacks of his generation, but he didn't have a great year and Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph was more deserving. The Dolphins' two rookies might reach this level someday, but they've still got a little ways to go.

Free safeties

Selections: Ed Reed (starter), Jairus Byrd

Analysis: Reed is a fabulous playmaker, but this wasn't one of his best years, still he made the team. For the Dolphins, Gibril Wilson struggled all year.

Strong safety

Selection: Brian Dawkins, Denver

Analysis: It wasn't a great year for strong safeties, and Dawkins was so good early in the season that he made a big impression in his first year in the AFC. Yeremiah Bell had a pretty solid season for the Dolphins, but he didn't produce enough memorable plays to overcome Dawkins' reputation.

Special teams

Selections: Shane Lechler (punter), Nate Kaeding (kicker), Joshua Cribbs (kick return specialist), Kassim Osgood (special teamer)

Analysis: Lechler and Cribbs were absolute slam dunks, and it's hard to argue with either Kaeding or Osgood. Dan Carpenter is the only Dolphins special-teamer who seemed to have any kind of shot, but his numbers just weren't quite good enough.


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