Last season Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields led the league in the popular vote for the NFL Pro-Bowl. He didn’t make it. Earlier this year Fields brushed off the dismissal while his long snapper John Denney said it was a big mistake. A mistake that would be rectified this year with Field’s performance. It was. Fields makes his first trip to Hawaii as a member of the NFL’s best earning his first Pro-Bowl trip. It should be the first of many.
Fields has become one of the most clutch punters in the NFL and there is no question that his ability to change field position from anywhere on the field has been a huge help to the Miami Dolphins playoff chances. I asked Fields about his mindset as he lines up to make his kick.
“I don’t think about it. I’ve done it so many times that I just let my instincts take over. I’ve been doing this for years and my body knows the mechanics so I just let go of the thoughts and kick the ball.”
It has earned him respect among his peers and with the fans.
The Dolphins might be sending their punter to the Pro-Bowl for the first time but they will also be sending center Mike Pouncey for the first time as well. Despite missing two weeks with an illness, Pouncey has anchored an offensive line that has been in shambles most of the season. From losing Richie Incognito on his left side and swaps at the guard on his right, Pouncey put together a very good season. Is it Pro-Bowl worthy? Apparently some believe it was. I am not discounting that by any measure it’s a testament to his play that an election came given the disarray along the front and the lack of production they have churned out.
Defensively Brent Grimes was really the Miami Dolphins second no-brainer behind Fields. Grimes’ production this year will almost certainly land him back with Miami next season. While no talks have been taking place that we know of, Grimes is a candidate for the “Franchise Tag”. If labeled with that tag, Grimes would make upwards of 11 million on the season. Make no mistake Grimes want’s a long term deal that will likely finish his career in Miami. The question is does he have a lot of years left at this level? Does Jeff Ireland view him as a needed player for next year while the younger players develop?
Those are questions that will be debated among fans for quite awhile.
Cameron Wake will make yet another appearance in the game. Of the four players that Miami is sending to the game, Wake is probably the least deserving. In fact it could be argued that Olivier Vernon had a bigger impact on the team and a better statistical season. Vernon had more sacks, more tackles, and more assists than Wake. Wake however missed three games with an injury. Wake may have had an off-season in terms of his own production but his presence off the edge made opposing teams game plan for him. Still, I can’t help but think his name had more to do with his election than this seasons play.
While I really have no complaints over the players that made the Pro-Bowl, I was a little surprised that Charles Clay did not. It’s hard to argue with the players who did make the game. Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron came out of nowhere this season and had huge production for the Browns. In Denver, Julius Thomas was a first look threat for Peyton Manning while Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis are two of the top TE’s in the league. Clay put up very good numbers but he is still far from the recognizable contributors that the other four are or have become. It is still gratifying to know that Clay has blossomed into a legit TE threat. A position that after Dustin Keller’s injury was quite suspect.
Outside of Clay I don’t really see a player that perhaps should have been voted in. Randy Starks split time on the field with Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai did the same at times when the team went to different fronts. While Brian Hartline had another very productive season it’s hard to add his name into the list of Pro-Bowlers given their production and name value. Mike Wallace could have had the most production of any league WR if not for a disconnect between he and Ryan Tannehill. A fault they both share equally.
Last season the Dolphins sent four players to the Pro-Bowl as well. Randy Starks, Cameron Wake, John Denney, and guard Richie Incognito.