COMMENTARY | It is that special time of year again when freak accidents involving a jar of peanut butter, two canaries and a broken mop handle will inexplicably render some Pro Bowl participants unable to play in the game (yet somehow still able to enjoy the free Hawaiian vacation). But as it currently stands, the Chicago Bears' Alshon Jeffery will not be sipping umbrella drinks out of coconuts this January thanks to his 1,421-yard, seven touchdown season being snubbed from the Pro Bowl roster.
Eight wide receivers, including Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, will represent the NFL pass catchers this season.
It is impossible to make the case that any of these players did not deserve a Pro Bowl selection; it is just that Jeffery may have been more deserving than a couple of bigger named receivers, such as Marshall, Bryant and Johnson.
Jeffery is in good company. Realistically, as many as fifteen different wide outs had Pro Bowl caliber seasons in 2014. There were 24 separate pass catchers who broke the 1,000-yard mark, and 10 of those were able to eclipse 1,300 yards.
To show just how crowded the field of qualified wide receivers really was, the Washington Redskins' Pierre Garcon ranks No. 1 in the NFL in receptions (113), and added 1,346 yards, but even he was unable to garner one of the eight invites to the Spam capital of the world.
Jeffery vs. Marshall
The Bears got one receiver to Hawaii, as Marshall will make his fifth trip to the Pro Bowl in eight seasons, but the case can be made that Jeffery even had a better season than his own teammate.
Jeffery had has 126 more yards on 13 fewer targets than his wide receiving counterpart. Marshall's 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns were certainly enough to get him to Hawaii; however, far too often it was Jeffery who played like the best receiver on the Bears. In a perfect world, both Marshall and Jeffery would get to make the trip, but, if only one can represent Chicago, it should be Jeffery.
Jeffery, who broke the franchise's all-time single game receiving record, not once, but two separate times this season, has been the more explosive player. He has a higher yards-per-catch average than Marshall (16.0), averages more yards per game as the No. 2 option on the team (88.8), and is also more dangerous after the catch. This season, Jeffery accumulated 115 more yards after the catch than Marshall.
Still Hope to See Jeffery in Hawaii?
The Bears' Swiss cheese defense gave up 33 points to the Green Bay Packer in Week 17 to bounce Chicago from playoff contention. Since Pro Bowl selections will be the only solace fans have at the end of the year, there is still a chance Jeffery could find himself stowed away aboard a ship bound for an archipelago.
Demaryius Thomas holds one of the final receiver slots, but the Broncos are on the short list of teams favored to play for the Super Bowl. I'm not sure who in their right mind would choose New Jersey in February over Hawaii, but, if the Broncos do get to play for Lord Lombardi's trophy, there will be a new receiver spot needing to be filled.
For the Bears, running back Matt Forte was the only other player besides Marshall to earn a Pro Bowl selection. This season also marks the first time since 2005 that a member of the Bears' defense was not invited to the Pro Bowl.
Dalton Russell has covered the Chicago Bears in print and online media since 1998. He lives just outside the shadow of the iconic architecture of Soldier Field.
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