On Saturday morning the Associated Press announced the 2012 NFL All-Pro team. The announcement may give some bulletin board material to a few star New England Patriots who have had fantastic seasons in 2012.
Of all the offensive stars on the Patriots, none were voted by the national writers as the best at their position. In fact, for the second best team in the AFC in 2012, only defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was named to the team.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won the decision overwhelmingly receiving 43 votes. Surprisingly, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers received four votes and three for Tom Brady. Brady could feel slighted by the vote difference considering the stats he put up in 2012. Brady outgained Manning in yards, recording 4,827 to Manning’s 4,659. While Manning had three more touchdowns than Brady, the Patriots captain threw three less interceptions. The only real difference favoring Manning is quarterback rating where Brady’s 98.7 was outshined by his rival’s 105.8.
Another player who can feel underappreciated is wide receiver Wes Welker. Despite being named to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl, Welker was not named to the All-Pro team. Welker had another spectacular 2012 season despite the distraction of playing under the franchise tag following failed contract negotiations over the summer. Welker finished the season second in receptions with 118 and eight in yards with 1,354. While he only recorded 6 touchdowns compared to double digits by his competition, the Patriots are known for targeting their tight ends in the red zone.
Rob Gronkowski was the NFL’s best tight end in 2012 but was not named to the All-Pro team due to his broken forearm late in the season which left him out for five of the last six games of the season. Despite only playing in 11 of his team’s 16 games, Gronkowski finished the season 13th in receptions with 55, seventh in yards with 790, and first in touchdowns with 11 among all tight ends. If Gronkowski had played all 16 games this season he would’ve finished first in yards and touchdowns and at least fourth in receptions at his position.
Not that the Patriots need the motivation heading into Sunday’s clash with the Houston Texans but if they do, they have it. The three biggest offensive weapons for the Patriots are Brady, Welker, and Gronkowski and all have a right to claim they had All-Pro caliber seasons especially Gronkowski who was far and away the best tight end in 2012.
During playoff games “bulletin board material” is a phrase often used as if extra motivation will determine the outcome of the game. If so, it appears the NFL’s best offense may have some.