HOUSTON - DECEMBER 18: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter as he beats corerback Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Before we get to who got left out, let's discuss who made it: CSR extends our congratulations to WR Steve Smith and C Ryan Kalil for making the NFC Pro Bowl team.
Steve Smith has had a major resurgence since Cam Newton became QB. At the time of this writing Smitty has totaled 1,308 receiving yards and 6 TDs on 73 receptions. Not only has Smith proven he's still an elite NFL receiver, but he's been a major reason Newton has succeeded at the QB position.
Cam's success can also be attributed to Ryan Kalil who has become the stalwart of the offensive line and now regarded as one of the best centers in the NFL. Whether it's snapping the ball cleanly, identifying blitzers or blocking Kalil has done everything well in 2011.
Now comes time to discuss the snubs, and we'll do that after the jump.
As it stands Cam Newton has a very real chance of being named to the probowl roster. Both Saints' QB Drew Brees and the Packers' Aaron Rodgers were named to the team, along with the deserving Eli Manning. I can't slight any of these three selections, and odds are one of these teams will represent the NFC in the Superbowl this year. The decision for alternates will be between Newton and Lions' QB Matthew Stafford who was also left off the roster. However, early rumors indicate that Newton is indeed the alternate, so we'll see how that plays out.
The lack of Chris Gamble on the team really chaps my hide. The NFL decided to send Charles Woodson, Carlos Rodgers and Charles Tillman to represent the NFC. Woodson and Rodgers it get, both have had very good seasons, but Tillman? Give me a break. I understand cornerback play can be hard to evaluate sometimes, but when I see a CB with 93 tackles it tells me one thing: Nobody is afraid of this guy, it's the Richard Marshall effect.
Sure, Tillman has three FF and two interceptions which likely swayed the decision, but Gamble's stat is far more impressive: QB's have a 45.8 QB rating when throwing against him. According to Football Outsiders he also ranked 6th in the NFC in success rate only allowing receivers to get a catch 37% of the time, along with extremely low target, YAC and yards allowed numbers; Charles Tillman didn't even make the list.
Sure, the Pro Bowl is a pointless game of football aimed to give players a free trip to Hawaii, but it's a way to gibe players some kudos. Cam Newton may not be there just yet, but Chris Gamble was robbed and that's a travesty.