This past Sunday, the NFL had its annual Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
By Jordan Wright
Just like every year, the game features defenses that can’t blitz to match up against offenses that had barely any time to learn plays. All in all, this Pro Bowl was just like any other for me: I was really excited to watch the game, only to be severely disappointed by lackluster performances that turned the Pro Bowl into a game of two-hand touch being played by some of the best athletes in the world.
Luckily, there were five Vikings selected to the Pro Bowl, so there was plenty to watch. I know there will be some folks out there who denounce the all-star game and will point to the fact that 133 players (the most ever) were invited to the Pro Bowl because others dropped out or were going to the Super Bowl, but I’m here to tell you to not pay attention to those people. In 10 or 20 years, when people look back at the history of the game, there won’t be an asterisk next to Teddy Bridgewater’s name or anyone else’s. Instead, it will simply read Teddy Bridgewater, 2016 Pro Bowler.
Bridgewater threw the least amount of passes of any quarterback in attendance, completing six of eight for 129 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. It was easy to tell Teddy’s rhythm was off with his wide receivers, but as the game progressed he settled down and was able to make some nifty throws.
Adrian Peterson had five rushes for four yards. Had anyone else been in Peterson’s shoes, they probably would have declined the Pro Bowl because of age and needing to recover. But Peterson, ever the competitor, still went to Hawaii and started at running back for Team Jerry Rice.
Everson Griffen only had one solo tackle and assisted on another, but defenses were not going after opposing quarterbacks, so his abilities were negated some. There was a stretch during the game that Griffen was able to apply consistent pressure, and even though it didn’t amount to a sack, it was still nice to hear his name mentioned throughout the game.
Anthony Barr got the start at linebacker and played quite a few snaps. Barr finished the game with two solo tackles and another assisted tackle. There are always some players who seem to enjoy the Pro Bowl more than others, and Barr seemed like he was one of them. Anthony was in his element, and I expect him to see many more Pro Bowls throughout his career.
Harrison Smith was able to get some playing time, finishing the game with three solo tackles, one assisted tackle and an interception. There were a few plays where Smith seemed like he might have been lost in coverage which led to big gains by the opposing offense, but then again it’s hard to know if it was Smith’s fault or the corner’s. With so little time to practice together, there were bound to be some errors on both sides of the ball.
Looking ahead, this Sunday is the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. While my heart is saying it would be good for Manning to win one more ring before riding off into the sunset, my brain is telling me the Panthers have been the best team in football this year and they have the talent on both sides of the ball to pull out a win. I think Carolina will win this game, but you can’t discount how valuable it is for the Broncos to have Manning and his calming influence. This game will be closer than it appears on paper.