The Pro Bowl voting results were released earlier this week and New York football fans were left with little to savor as the only one player from the Giants and the Jets made the lists. Giants safety Landon Collins was named the starting strong safety for the NFC squad while the Jets were completely passed over.
That doesn’t mean that the two teams won’t be sending anyone to the game, which will take place January 28 in Orlando, the week before the Super Bowl. There are always injury replacements and substitutes for Pro Bowlers who are on the two Super Bowl rosters. The Giants may finally get to send DL Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who leads the NFL in run stops for the fourth time in seven years. He’s never been added to a Pro Bowl roster, even though he was named a first-team All-Pro last year. It’s time.
Usually, WR Odell Beckham, Jr. would get an invite but he’s been out for the season since October with a broken ankle. Other recent invitees have been CBs Janoris Jenkins (also out for the season) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. With the Giants’ offense reduced to a punchline under former head coach Ben McAdoo and their defense getting shredded, don’t count on Collins receiving any company on his ride down to Florida.
In fact, Collins himself may not be able to attend the game due to a tricky ankle, which he first injured on Oct. 8. He has weathered through the injury in keeping his consecutive game streak intact at 47 games. He has led the Giants in tackles in each of his first three season here and is clearly their best defensive player although the ankle has kept him from being as dominant as he was in his All-Pro campaign last season.
“I think my second half was better than my first half, because of my (ankle) injury,” Collins said. “And I think I’ve played pretty good to get everybody’s attention, and being one of the best in the game right now. I’m just humbled by it and grateful for it, going back-to-back times. It’s a blessing.”
But he is a warrior, as per head interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who has also been the team’s defensive coordinator. Collins appreciates the honor but coming from the winning culture down at Nick Saban’s University of Alabama, he values winning over any individual accolades.
“It’s definitely a mixed feeling, because I want all my guys to succeed, as a team and as a whole,” Collins said. “We all want to succeed and by me just doing it, it’s a good feeling, but at the same time a bad feeling, because I want everybody to be happy, not just myself.”
The Jets are currently not scheduled to be represented at the Pro Bowl. Head coach Todd Bowles, whose team began the season 3-2 and is now 5-9, sloughed off the importance of the honors which are voted for by the coaches, fans and players.
“I don’t worry about Pro Bowlers or non Pro Bowlers,” said Bowles. “I just worry about trying to get to the Super Bowl.”
He’s not going there, either. He’ll need a ticket to get in like everyone else. His team has very little top-level talent at the moment. Last year, DL Leonard Williams was named to the team. In 2016, the Jets sent WR Brandon Marshall, CB Darrelle Revis and DL Muhammad Wilkerson. This year, rookie safety Jamal Adams and QB Josh McCown were named alternates. McCown is out for the season with a broken wrist, so if any Jet is going to end up in the game it’ll likely be Adams, who the Jets selected with the sixth overall pick last spring.
The lack of local representation at the Pro Bowl doesn’t really bother most Giants and Jets fans as the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts were also shut out. But what it does do is illustrate how shallow the talent pool is for both teams these days.
That can hopefully be rectified beginning this season, as Adams and Giants’ top pick, TE Evan Engram, are shoe-ins to be named to the All-Rookie team and both clubs will be selecting in the top ten in next April’s NFL Draft.