This will be the first edition of an ongoing review of dark-horse candidates for the 2013 Pro Bowl. Today we will explore what is perceived as the most important position on the field – the quarterback. Throughout the season, we’ll cover all of the major position groups including:
- Running Backs
- Tight Ends
- Wide Receivers
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
- Special Teams
Let’s get right into it. The quarterback position is probably the most talked about when it comes to the Pro Bowl with last year’s shun of Matthew Stafford in the face of Cam Newton being one of the major talking points. This year, things are going to be even less cut and dry with Week 1 providing twisted concepts of what fans expected this season to be. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees suffered inflaming losses in their season openers and the Pro Bowl is only going to be a reflection of the parity deepening throughout the league.
The dark-horse candidates are going to emerge while the “probables” might just have to fight for a place in the Pro Bowl that was almost gifted to them after last season.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (AFC)
The Baltimore Ravens unbuckled Cincy’s offensive and defensive sets and Flacco stepped forth as the head of the unrelenting monster. Nothing about the Ravens in the past have highlighted anything offensively, with the exception of the running game, which is common with elite defensive franchises in the NFL.
Often times you have a team that is very strong defensively like the Ravens and their hybrid defense who are also very formidable in the running game. The Ravens have boosted Ray Rice’s small, yet balanced stature as the ground component.
If the Ravens have finally figured out how to make Flacco’s passing game a more integral fraction of Baltimore’s game plan, then things could look up for the team and individually for the overlooked AFC quarterback. Tom Brady is a given on the AFC Pro Bowl roster barring some catastrophic event that relinquishes him of his limbs. Brady is just a sure bet and deserves the credit he is given by automatically earning a bid from football fans, Patriot faithfuls or not.
However, Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers may see their names fall from contention. Flacco’s Week 1 routing of the Cincinnati Bengals even gave confidence back to Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the Ravens’ defensive leaders, as they had a rare conversation about what the offense was doing right, not wrong.
“Our offense is doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s time for us to do what we’re supposed to do.”
Those words alone should put the fear in defensive backfields that will have to face the Baltimore Ravens in the upcoming season and fans should be proud of what they saw in Week 1.
All false hope aside, Flacco and Baltimore’s offense look geared to change the culture of their production.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (NFC)
Of course everyone is going to say that it is a little premature to toss him into the Pro Bowl before he gets the training wheels off of his rookie campaign. Did everyone get a chance to see how he upstaged Drew Brees?
With a Super Bowl under his belt, Brees should never be outshined or outplayed by a rookie quarterback, but that is exactly what happened in Week 1 in a meeting between the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints. Griffin threw zero interceptions while Brees threw two and no one walked away with too much confidence in a Saints franchise that was just awarded a huge victory with key players being reinstated after the bountygate scanndal.
Griffin showed the same athleticism, poise and field vision that he did at Baylor. For a rookie to throw for 320 passing yards and two touchdowns with only one turnover by his hand – a fumble – is something that cannot go unnoticed and if he keeps it up, Griffin will be in the same position Cam Newton was in last season, except his stats should translate to Redskins victories.
Griffin could find himself in the Pro Bowl during his rookie season.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (NFC)
Sexy numbers for quarterbacks in the NFC are expected. Both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees season threw for a collective 10,119 yards last season. While Cam Newton exploded for 4,051 passing yards.
Both Tony Romo and Matt Ryan opened up the season very impressively and have the tools at their disposal to be destructive in the air.
Eli Manning and Michael Vick are both very dangerous quarterbacks in their own right with Manning being the more subtle snake of the two. Vick is going to kill you with occasional precision and his athleticism.
Matthew Stafford has to find his place in a very deep QB-driven conference, but Week 1’s win against the St. Louis Rams should have provided a little relief that Stafford can make those key drives when it matters. His three interceptions against the Rams were embarrassing to put it politely and it can never happen again if Stafford expects to get the Lions back to the playoffs.
However, counting him out after Week 1 is a grand mistake and the comeback kid of all comeback kids will prove you wrong every time. Stafford has the physical and technical tools to be a top five quarterback in the league and with a little more consistency could dismount the more notable QBs in the NFC from a Pro Bowl selection.