The NFL announced its rosters for the 2018 Pro Bowl that will be played the week before the Super Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Three Washington Redskins were selected — OT Trent Williams, OG Brandon Scherff and OLB Ryan Kerrigan. All three are deserving after solid individual seasons.
Williams is arguably the best left tackle in football, right now. Despite battling a knee injury — all season — that will require surgery, he is the only offensive tackle in the NFL to not allow a sack with 350+ pass-blocking snaps. Kerrigan has nine sacks on the season and appears to a routine resident in opposing team’s backfield. Meanwhile, Scherff is earning a reputation as a perennial Pro Bowler, who is now creeping into debates as one of the best offensive guards in the NFL.
Additionally, ILB Zach Brown and CB Josh Norman were named first alternates. With injuries and/or players been occupied with playing in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minn. the following week, Brown and Norman will be first up at their positions as replacements.
Still there were some Redskins that were left out of the Pro Bowl that were as deserving. Sure, on a 6-8 season it’s hard to see how great of a season an individual has had. Team accomplishments overshadow and sway perception of an individual’s success. For three Redskins, they were left out despite having just as or if not better seasons than their positional counterparts.
Editor’s Note: For sake of argument Zach Brown and Josh Norman are not included because they were named alternates
3. S – D.J. Swearinger
On the surface some may argue Swearinger may not be the best candidate for a Pro Bowl snub. However, looking at film and hard numbers, he has an argument in comparison to other NFC safeties. Swearinger is tied for the most interceptions among NFC safeties with three. He also is tied for second among NFC safeties with nine passes defensed.
He has had his fair share of lapses in pass coverage, however, he has been the anchor to an improving Redskins defense throughout the year. As a captain, he has sparked a new attitude to the Redskins defense. Even with the unit being depleted by injuries his presence has given a new perception about Washington’s defense.
Unfortunately for Swearinger, there was a good crop of safeties in the NFC and there was only room for three.
Pro Bowlers: Earl Thomas (Seahawks), Landon Collins (Giants), Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles)
2. QB – Kirk Cousins
While many fans, analysts, and personalities debate Kirk Cousins’ worth, the Redskins’ QB is having another solid season. After back-to-back impressive 4,000-passing yards seasons, Cousins may be having his most impressive season yet. Cousins is fourth in the NFC with 3,636 passing yards, 260 yards per game, 66.1 completion percentage, 24 passing touchdowns, and 7.80 yards per attempt. He is also sixth in the conference with a 98.8 quarterback rating.
With Cousins being fourth in nearly every major statistical category among NFC quarterbacks, it’s hard to figure how he was not at least named an alternate?
What’s so impressive about Cousins’ season is that he has lost nearly all his major offensive weapons throughout the year and had to deal with a makeshift offensive line. Tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring), wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (ankle), running back Chris Thompson (broken fibula) all are on injured reserved. That’s not to mention the countless injuries across the offensive line and offense. Cousins is arguably doing the most with the less of any quarterback in the NFL, especially NFC.
As hard as this season has been for him and the Redskins offense. He is 364 yards away from his third straight 4,000-yard season.
Pro Bowlers: Carson Wentz (Eagles), Drew Brees (Saints), Russell Wilson (Seahawks)
1. CB – Kendall Fuller
Josh Norman may be an alternate, but many will argue Kendall Fuller is the Redskins best cornerback. The position’s value cannot determined entirely by interceptions or tackles. Some of the best corners in the league strike enough fear in quarterbacks, they are not tested as much as others. So, the opportunity to make plays aren’t there.
In the age of analytics, many turn to these stats to understand the value of the position. Fuller in his second season with the Redskins is regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league let alone the Redskins. Entering Week 16, Fuller is the third-highest rated cornerback in the NFC, according to Pro Football Focus. Rookie Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints and Patrick Robinson of the Philadelphia Eagles are rated higher from the conference — only Lattimore initially made the Pro Bowl.
Fuller is arguably the best slot corner in the NFL this season next to Robinson. Fuller has drawn tough assignments all season, and has done a marvelous job keeping opposing quarterbacks from working the middle of the field against the Redskins. It’s no question, he has been the most consistent corner on the Redskins team, even in the eye test.
With that said, he still leads the team with four interceptions. That’s good enough to be tied for second among NFC cornerbacks. PFF wrote about his superb play this season, heading into Sunday’s win against Arizona.
“He has not allowed more than 38 yards in a game this season and has allowed just one touchdown. He also has four interceptions, which ranks tied for third among cornerbacks.”
In Sunday’s win, Fuller backed up any arguments in favor him. Matched primarily against the game’s best slot wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, Fuller held his own. Fitzgerald was held to five catches for 60 yards on 10 targets. One of those failed targets came on the game’s last play, as Fuller – along with Swearinger – worked to break up Blaine Gabbert’s pass.
Pro Bowlers: Xavier Rhodes (Vikings), Patrick Peterson (Cardinals), Marshon Lattimore (Saints), Darius Slay (Lions)
Again, not many will know the details of Fuller’s work. His team is 6-8 and has no shot of making the playoffs. Also, it doesn’t help for neither him nor Swearinger play on the NFL’s 20th ranked defense – 16th against the pass. Still, both along with their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, are having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons in lieu of the Redskins’ lack of success.