Eagles Pro Bowl snubs, ranked

Eagles Pro Bowl snubs, ranked

With a 9-6 record, the second-ranked offense in the NFL, and a defense that’s held 10 of its last 11 opponents to 21 points or less, the Philadelphia Eagles managed to send just two players to the 2014 Pro Bowl. Running back LeSean McCoy and left tackle Jason Peters were beyond worthy candidates, but where’s everybody else?

Beyond that, only three additional Eagles were even named first or second alternates to the Pro Bowl in the event of injuries or players backing out. That just seems like such a low number for a team that’s had such a fun and memorable season. It’s all wrong.

So without further adieu, here are five players that should be in the Pro Bowl this year, and ranked for no real reason at all. Check out the full roster for reference.

5. Nick Foles (63.9 CMP%, 2,628 YDS, 9.0 AVG, 25 TD, 2 INT, 118.7 RAT)

The odds were stacked against Nick Foles from the beginning, seeing as he was only added to the Pro Bowl ballot around December roughly. That’s no excuse though. Foles leads the NFL in yards per attempt and passer rating, and his touchdowns-to-interception ratio is insane. He may not have prolific totals, but only because he’s started in just nine games.

He’s good enough for NFL Most Valuable Player consideration, but not the Pro Bowl? To be fair, all of the quarterbacks who got in are worthy, so choosing someone to bounce is not easy. I’d lean Russell Wilson because he’s thrown for the same amount of touchdowns and only a handful more yards despite playing every game (and because I’m a known Russell Wilson hater).

Foles is a first alternate, and given that one of these quarterbacks will likely be playing in the Super Bowl a week later, that means an invitation will inevitably be extended—unless, of course, the Eagles make it to the big game. Otherwise, Foles will back-door his way into the Pro Bowl anyway.

4. Somebody from the Eagles defense

The Eagles don’t have a traditionally great defense. The unit ranks 30th by the NFL standard of yards, but 16th in points allowed, which is all that really matters. In fact, only three offenses have scored more than 21 points on Philly’s D all season—Denver, San Diego and Minnesota.

So it’s a little baffling that nobody was voted into the Pro Bowl from the Eagles. No first or second alternates were named, either. Trent Cole made a late push, racking up eight sacks in the last seven games, but it wasn’t enough. Cedric Thornton is one of the top run-defending defensive ends in the NFL this season according to Pro Football Focus, but it’s not a glamorous role. And frankly, I can see why nobody from the secondary got in.

The one player you could make a case for though is DeMeco Ryans, the heart and soul of the Birds defense. Inside linebacker is a crowded field, but Ryans had more tackles, sacks, interceptions and pass breakups than Patrick Willis, one of two 49ers representatives at the position this year. Willis seems like a reputation pick, whereas Ryans—a two-time Pro Bowler—is actually enjoying possibly the best season of his career.

3. DeSean Jackson (79 REC, 1,304 YDS, 16.5 AVG, 9 TD)

DeSean Jackson has more receiving yards than Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall, more touchdowns than Antonio Brown and averages more yards per reception than all three of them. Jackson doesn’t belong in over the rest (Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas), but you could easily build a case over any of the other three—yet somehow he’s only a second alternate.

DJacc has made the Pro Bowl when his numbers were far less than what they are this season, so it’s genuinely surprising he was moved to the backburner this year after setting new career highs.

2. Donnie Jones (40.2 NET, 33 IN20)

This one is legitimately confusing. Donnie Jones set an Eagles record with 33 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. His kicks were so vital, so clutch that Jones twice won Special Teams Player of the Week honors—only two other punters took the award once this season.

Here’s where we get lost. St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker, one of the two to get the nod, had nearly half as many kicks downed inside the 20 with 18. Yes, his net average was higher than Jones, indicating he had fewer opportunities to pin opponents deep, but Hekker’s kicks also forced the same number of fair catches (20) while he faced three more returns on six fewer attempts.

1. Evan Mathis

What does Evan Mathis need to do to receive proper recognition on a league-wide scale? Despite being on his way to being the highest-rated guard by metrics site Pro Football Focus for the third year running, Mathis once again will be watching the Royal Rumble Pro Bowl at home like the rest of us. The 10th-year veteran is a second alternate, so at least a few people finally must be starting to take notice.

Without the help of official statistics, offensive line selections are a little more difficult to dispute, but I’ll give it a go. Mathis is a key cog on the top rushing offense in the NFL. Marshal Yanda has been a very good guard for the Baltimore Ravens, but their running game stinks, averaging a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry. That’s not all on one player, but 19 guards have individual run-blocking scores than Yanda this season. Come on.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.