Dec 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) celebrates after a defensive stop in the first half against the New York Giants at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The Falcons have had three offensive players named to the Pro Bowl, and that’s a fantastic honor for a team that has operated with great efficiency so far in 2012. But there are some players, on both sides of the ball, that definitely deserved to be named to the Pro Bowl.
I’ll mention one that deserves only some consideration. That player is offensive tackle Sam Baker. Baker has performed exceptionally well, and while he isn’t a mauler of the same type that San Francisco’s Joe Staley and Seattle’s Russell Okung are, he has been a very solid technician in pass protection, has done a good job opening holes in the run game, and has showed a lot of athleticism in blocking for both the run and screen passes down the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s named an alternate.
The other two players don’t just deserve consideration: the straight up need to be on the team. Free safety Thomas DeCoud has been an instrumental part of Atlanta’s defense, and I’m shocked he didn’t make the team. As a matter of fact, I was nearly 100% sure he would make the team. DeCoud has been as solid as always in run defense, but this season he had been truly outstanding in pass coverage, and that’s made all the difference. He’s had a sack, 70 tackles, 8 passes defended, 2 stuffs, and 6 interceptions. I know San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson and Seattle’s Earl Thomas are fine players and having really good seasons, but if they weren’t on defenses that are playing out of their minds, there’s no way they would supplant DeCoud on the Pro Bowl roster.
The final player who needs to be on the team is linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. I have an interesting thought about that. In this day an age, there’s no place for a 4-3 outside linebacker. Weatherspoon is a very active tackler, and does a good job in pass coverage, as well as running down opponents in open space. He has 87 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 3 passes defended, and 3 stuffs. But that doesn’t create an extremely popular player the way a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker does. The three OLBs named to the NFC Pro Bowl team are Aldon Smith, DeMarcus Ware, and Clay Matthews. All are fine players, and certainly can make plays in other phases of the game, but they are basically pass-rushing specialists. They aren’t true OLBs in the purest sense of the position. I would think they would include one OLB who plays the ‘pure form’ of the position. But such is life. I would expect Weatherspoon to be a Pro Bowl alternate as well.
There are other players who could be considered. Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo for example. I think Asante Samuel or Jonathan Babineaux would be good picks as well. But I would have a harder time making a case for them. I think it’s not right that neither DeCoud nor Weatherspoon made the Pro Bowl. Hopefully they will find a way onto the team.