The Pro Bowl is set to be played in Hawaii in 2013 after some speculation that the game might be cancelled. Instead, the league will work with players to try to get the game up to NFL standards:
“We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game.”
I’m sure many players lobbied for the game to go on, since it’s a nice all-expense paid trip to take after a long and challenging season. If – and I do say IF – the Bears don’t make it to the Super Bowl, which players are most likely to be packing their bags to go Hawaii. Let’s see the contenders after the jump.
The veteran middle linebacker is no stranger to the Pro Bowl, having been selected eight times in his twelve seasons, including consecutive trips in 2010 and 2011. Can Urlacher hold off Father Time and continue his high level of play? Middle linebackers like Patrick Willis will push for that spot.
Briggs has a bit of a Pro Bowl streak going, with consecutive trips from 2005 until 2011. There are plenty of stud outside linebackers in the NFC and with the shift from 4-3 defenses to 3-4 defenses, those coveted OLB spots seem to go to the Clay Matthews’ and DeMarcus Wares of the world.
Peppers has been solid as a Bear, but not really spectacular. A lot of what Peppers does is missed if you just look at the stat sheet. If rookie first round pick Shea McClellin can start forcing some double teams or if Henry Melton continues to get pressure from the 3-technique spot, this could be the year that Peppers’ box score matches his production.
I love me some Peanut and last season’s honor was well deserved. Of all of last season’s Bears Pro Bowlers, I worry most about Peanut being able to make a return trip to Hawaii, mostly because of durability concerns.
Cutler was having right in the middle of his breakout season as a Chicago Bear when a broken thumb ended his season, and the Bears’ playoff hopes, in one fell swoop. I have no doubt that Cutler has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl player, but in the age of the quarterback, the competition is stiff. Even in the NFC North, you’ve got Aaron Rodgers and up-and-comer Matthew Stafford, who many thought was a Pro Bowl snub last season. Add to that guys who will put up big numbers like Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Cam Newton and it’s going to take a really special season for Cutty to do it.
Marshall dominated the Pro Bowl last season and we all know what he did last time he and Jay Cutler were together in Denver. The biggest question for Marshall is whether or not the new offense under Mike Tice can come together quickly enough and give Jay Cutler enough time to get the ball to him.
Don’t expect him to be nearly half the Bears’ offense this season as his role in the passing game should decline as Marshall takes a bigger chunk of attempts. That said, if he plays a full slate of games next season, it could set up nicely for a return trip. AP will still be less than 100% and there aren’t that many stud backs in the NFC. Shady McCoy and Marshawn Lynch, you know those other running back who got paid this offseason, might present a challenge, but a healthy Forte should be able to get back to the Pro Bowl next season.
There is no one that does it any better in the return game, especially on punt returns. Hester should just book his airfare now.
One of the best at putting the ball between the uprights, the Bears’ kicker has made the trip to Hawaii in the past and Solid Gould could easily earn a trip back if the Bears have a good season and score a lot of points.
Special Teams Coverage Guy
Whether it’s Eric Weems, Blake Costanzo or Devin Thomas, you know that Dave Toub will have someone coached up to be a Special Teams Stud Coverage Guy, just like he did with Corey Graham last season.
Since the Pro Bowl will be played between the Championship round and the Super Bowl, it’s only IF the Bears don’t make it to the Super Bowl. Did I miss anyone? Who goes; who doesn’t? Do you even care?