With the 2012 Pro Bowl rosters being released this week, there has been a lot of talk about who should and should not have made it. This discussion has of course made its way down into Colts fans' minds, especially when it comes to rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who was named the first alternate behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Matt Schaub.
But for Luck, it's hard to argue that he deserves it over any of those three. Manning and Brady are having fantastic years, and are lightyears awayr from anyone else in the conference. Schaub isn't having a great year, but has thrown for over 3700 yards on 64% completion percentage with 22 TDs and 10 INTs, and his team is currently #1 in the AFC.
Luck, on the other hand, leads the league in interceptions, has a lower YPA than Schaub, has thrown for less TDs, and has an accuracy percentage that's nearly 10 points lower. Sure, he has a far worse supporting cast but those kind of differences in the numbers are hard to overcome for voters, especially when the Texans are leading the conference.
It's not that Luck doesn't have a case; he does have one, and it's a pretty darn good one. But putting him as the 4th best QB in the conference is about right for me (although flip Roethlisberger and Schaub). I can deal with Luck being the first alternate. He'll likely make the Pro Bowl any way as one of those three QBs will most likely be headed to the Super Bowl.
Now, in terms of snubs, there is one player besides Reggie Wayne that I thought definitely deserved a Pro Bowl berth this season, and it wasn't Robert Mathis.
Pat McAfee has had a phenomenal season this year, improving in both situational punting and still being able to flip the field like none other with the #boomstick. If any Colt outside of Reggie Wayne deserved, it's him.
McAfee's average punt is the highest it's ever been, at 48.4 yards, which would break his own franchise record of 46.6 yards, which he set last season (The Colts' Ray Brown did punt twice in 1959 for a 48.5 average, but two punts doesn't really qualify). That average is fourth in the NFL, second only to Miami's Brandon Fields (50.3). Both of those numbers are better than Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt, who made the Pro Bowl roster. Colquitt does have McAfee beat in punts that pin the opponent inside the 20 (42-24, Colquitt leads the conference by a large margin), which is likely why Colquitt got the final nod.
Of course, none of these statistics take into consideration the situation in which punters are put in (where they are punting from), something that I'll try to do here in comparing Colquitt and McAfee.
First, I'll note that ProFootballFocus already does grade every single play using those non-statisical factors, and their grading has McAfee second in the league to Houston's Donnie Jones, as well as having the 11th highest grade in kick offs, something that Colquitt does not do.
When pushed back deep into their own territory (own 30 or less), teams need a punter to flip the field. McAfee has been phenomenal at this this season, averaging over 53 yards per punt in these situations, and not having many poor kicks on 32 punts. McAfee's shortest kick was 43 yards against Minnesota, a kick that was short and low. It was a poor kick, but it was really the only one. McAfee had just six punts under 48 yards, and none under 43.
For Colquitt, he averages just under 51 yards per punt in the same situations, and had several poor kicks that really hurt his team. Colquitt had five punts under 48 yards in just 21 attempts, including three that were under 43. One was a 21-yard stinker against Tampa Bay that set the Bucs up at the KC 30. He also had a 38-yarder against CIN that set up a touchdown.
Now we move on to pinning an opponent deep. I look at punts from the team's 40-yard line onward for these: a 50-yard punt from the IND 40 pins the opposing team on their own 10.
On these punts, you want your punt to pin the opponent deep, but also you want to avoid touchbacks. McAfee averages a touchback on every 5.4 punts in these situations, while Colquitt averages one on every 5.28.
On the rest of their kicks, Mcafee pinned the oppponent inside the 20 19 times (out of 22 attempts), while Colquitt did it 26 times (in 30 tries). Colquitt was better at getting them inside the 20, but McAfee was better at getting them inside the 10. McAfee pinned the oppenent inside their own ten on 41% of his punts in these situations, and inside their own five 26% of the time. Colquitt managed to pin them inside their own 10 35% of the time, and inside their own five just 19% of the time.
Colquitt might have the edge in the raw totals of inside the 20, but McAfee has been phenomenal all season. He hasn't had many poor punts, he's flipped the field, and he's been much improved in situational punting. Does Colquitt deserve it? I don't watch the Chiefs enough to tell you that.
But I do know that McAfee's been fantastic this season. In a season where the Colts have won so many close games, he is a huge factor.