HOW SILLY AND flawed is the whole Pro Bowl setup?
The most dominant Eagle at his position this season - defensive end Fletcher Cox - didn't come close to making it, but five of his teammates were named, including center Jason Kelce, who acknowledged to reporters yesterday that after missing four games because of abdominal surgery, he hasn't been as good as he was last season, when he deserved to go but was left out.
Kelce, outside linebacker Connor Barwin and running back Darren Sproles, who made it as a return specialist, are first-time Pro Bowlers. Left tackle Jason Peters, the football equivalent of a politician running unopposed, earned his seventh Pro Bowl honor, his fifth as an Eagle. Running back LeSean McCoy was tabbed for the third time.
Rookie kicker Cody Parkey is the Eagles' only first alternate. Guard Evan Mathis is a second alternate, as is special-teamer Chris Maragos. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is a third alternate, and Cox, unbelievably, is a sixth alternate, which basically seems like an insult.
Cox is handicapped by his position, which requires him to funnel the play toward teammates, such as Barwin, who has notched a career-high 14 1/2 sacks this season, and thus, a Pro Bowl berth.
"I think it's a huge honor. It's special because of the recognition from your peers, the coaches and the fans," said Barwin, the only member of the Eagles' defense who was selected. "I'm just fortunate to play in the defense I play in and to play with the guys I play with. That's what's allowed me to have the success that I had this year."
Cox said after practice yesterday, before the selections were announced, that the recognition would be nice.
"It would mean a whole lot," Cox said. "Showing that the position change [from 4-3 tackle to 3-4 end] really doesn't matter . . . If not, I really won't be mad."
McCoy made it despite averaging the lowest yards per carry (4.1) since his rookie year, but surehanded wideout Maclin, with 82 catches for 1,269 yards and 10 touchdowns, did not.
"I thought Mac, for sure, would be on it. Mac has been playing lights out," McCoy told @EaglesInsider. McCoy (1,220 yards on 296 carries), Tim Brown and Bill Barnes are the only three-time Pro Bowl Eagles running backs.
Kelce is the first Eagles center selected since Hall of Famer Jim Ringo in 1967, who made it then for the 10th and final time. Kelce said he was honored, but "it doesn't change the fact that the season's very frustrating, and for me, personally, I don't put too much of a huge deal into this. I think these individual accolades, really, in the grand scheme of things, don't mean too much."
Sproles leads the NFL with a 13.7-yard punt return average.
"It still matters, after all these years," said Sproles, who finally made it in his 10th NFL season. "You always want that on your resumé."