Andy Dalton: Your Average Pro Bowler

Andy Dalton was added to the Pro Bowl roster yesterday. In fairness to the selection process, nobody really wanted this to happen.  The NFL decided the two teams should have a total of six quarterbacks, and originally chose Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tony Romo. Manning, Rodgers, and Roethlisberger are injured and won’t play; Brady has a slightly more important game to prepare for.

On to the replacements! Drew Brees is one, a fine choice. Philip Rivers was asked next, but he’s hurt. Russell Wilson has the same “scheduling conflict” as Brady. Matthew Stafford is in, as is Matt Ryan. The final spot could have gone to Joe Flacco, but his wife is expecting their third child, so he declined. That meant Dalton, the seventh alternate and 13th overall choice at his position, is a Pro Bowler.

Even knowing the NFL went way down its list, the choice is still questionable. Dalton’s passer rating ranks 25th among qualified quarterbacks, behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton, Colin Kaepernick, Teddy Bridgewater, Austin Davis, and Shaun Hill. In case you’re keeping score at home, that list includes seven QBs benched at various times this season and two Rams.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t trust passer rating, check out more traditional stats like yards per attempt (Dalton ranks 20th) or touchdown to interception ratio (38th). None point to Dalton as a standout among his peers this season.

Football is not the only sport with this problem. In 2011, I wrote about the Major League Baseball All Star Game, in which 85 players were “honored,” 11.3 percent of the entire league. But as I noted then, baseball’s All Star Game makes up for it by still looking like a baseball game. Even if Super Bowl participants were eligible, the Pro Bowl is exceptionally lame. There is no blitzing and, as the  Associated Press’ game story from the 2012 game noted, the players were “hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight.”

You’ve got to have a serious NFL addiction to care about the Pro Bowl — which in its current form can have real-life teammates on different rosters — and Andy Dalton’s inclusion is just another reminder of that.

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