Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jake Long selected to second straight Pro Bowl

The AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters were announced tonight, and the Miami Dolphins were barely represented.

In fact, just one player from the Dolphins made it on the team, as second-year offensive tackle Jake Long was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

Although Long has allowed 4.5 sacks through 16 games this season compared to just 2.5 as a rookie in 2008, he is certainly deserving based on his 2009 performance.

According to the NFL film analysis experts at ProFootballFocus.com, Long ranks as the 13th run-blocking offensive tackle in the NFL, second-best pass-blocking tackle and second overall tackle behind only Cleveland's Joe Thomas.

Two glaring snubs

The 2009 Miami Dolphins have a player on each side of the ball that was clearly deserving of a Pro Bowl selection this season, and both were blatantly snubbed.

On offense, fullback Lousaka Polite has been a monster run-blocker since joining the team in 2008. He's the main reason Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have combined for over 1,700 yards on the ground this season, despite Brown only playing in nine games due to injury.

According to PFF, Polite ranks as the second-best run-blocking fullback of 2009 behind only Atlanta's Ovie Mughelli, and actually ranks first overall due to his positive plays in the running game.

Meanwhile, Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks was also a glaring omission from the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

A 4-3 defensive tackle from the Titans who joined the Dolphins on a five-year, $21-million contract prior to the 2008 season, Starks initially struggled with the scheme transition last season but really came on later in the year.

Starks' transition seems to be complete based on his 2009 performance, as he has been a disruptive force against both the pass and the run.

PFF has Starks as the No. 1 run-stopping 3-4 end in the NFL this season, and second overall at the position behind the 49ers' Justin Smith.

It's worth noting that former Dolphins defensive end Vonnie Holliday, who struggled to find a job during the preseason before signing a one-year, $845,000 contract with the Denver Broncos on Sept. 4, ranks third among 3-4 ends this season.

Linebacker Jason Taylor, while probably not worthy of a Pro Bowl selection, was the Dolphins' next closest thing to a snub, ranking as the fifth 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL and third against the run.

In addition to Miami's snubs, there were a plethora of players snubbed across the league in the popularity contest known as Pro Bowl fan voting. (On the bright side, it's given me a reason to use the word 'plethora.')

That's why I'll have my top 10 snubs from the 2010 Pro Bowl up tomorrow, so check back for that!