McAfee, not Luck, is Colts' biggest Pro Bowl snub

December 27, 2012
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Sure, there are always beefs about NFL Pro Bowl snubs.

And local scribes and sportscasters who cover their teams are quick to highlight those perceived injustices.

So I wasn’t surprised to see The Indianapolis Star point out that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck got passed over for the Pro Bowl.

But the real snub in Indianapolis isn’t Luck. He’s a year away, maybe two, from being Pro Bowl worthy.

The real stunner to me is the exclusion of Colts punter Pat McAfee. I’m not just being a homer here. You have to watch McAfee play to appreciate what he brings to his team.

Forget for a moment that McAfee’s stats are very close to those of Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt, who was voted onto the AFC Pro Bowl team this season.

McAfee averages 48.4 yards per punt compared to Colquitt’s 46.9. McAfee has put 35.3 percent of his punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line while Colquitt has done that 56 percent of the time. That’s a pretty important statistic in Colquitt’s favor. I give you that.

But if you have someone breaking free on a punt or kick return with only the kicker between the ball carrier and the goal line, who do you want in there? The answer is easy: McAfee. I would argue that the ability to put an open-field runner on the turf is almost as important as any skill in a kicker’s tool box.

The NFL has seldom seen a kicker or punter with the types of tackling skills the 25-year-old McAfee posses. At 6’1, 220, I’m convinced he could play somewhere on the defensive side of the ball if he so desired. The athletic kicker was one of the few bright spots on last year’s team and has saved a handful of touchdowns when the Colts kick coverage broke down this year.

But tackles isn’t a statistic that shows up on a kicker or punter’s stat sheet. So when fans, coaches and players vote for the Pro Bowl roster—many either without having seen that player play or with limited exposure to him, kick coverage and tackling ability isn’t something they consider. You have to actually see McAfee play to realize how valuable he is.

So I guess he’ll continue to be our little secret. And the Colts secret weapon should kick coverage break down.

  • Colts are probably glad...
    ...that McAfee isn't headed to the beaches of Hawaii to practice swimming.
  • Disagree
    Job #1 for every punter is to pin the receiving team as far back as possible. Pat is one of the best, but it's hard to compare him with other punters fairly on tackles. What if KC has a great coverage unit and Dustin never gets much chance for tackles?
  • Luck a better pick
    I still think that Luck should have been in the pro bowl he has taken a team that was totally rebuilt from scratch including the regular players playing a different way and is in the post season
  • Neither are snubs
    The fact that McAfee is pinning the punt returner 15% LESS of the time than Colquitt answers your own question. Had he pinned the receiver inside the 20 more times, that's fewer times he would have had to tackle anyone (even when considering ST ability to contain). Punters are not hired for their tackling ability. As far as Luck goes, his TD/INT percentage is what killed his chances when compared to those who were selected (at least to this voter). When all those stat lines are close, you have to break the tie somehow. Compared to those who were selected, Luck's TD/INT ratio isn't even close, nor is his QB rating. Luck 21 TD/ 18 INT, QB rating 75.6. Schaub 22TD / 10 INT, QB rating 92.4 (Flacco and Dalton also had fewer INT's and higher ratings than Luck). As good as Luck was this season, five other guys had more consistent numbers. The selection of Shaub was correct.
  • Touchback %
    Here is something that I should have mentioned in my blog post today: Pat McAfee's punts have a touchback rate of 10.3% this season. Dustin Colquitt's TB rate is 9.3%. That tells me that Colquitt's ability to get a higher (percentage) rate of kicks inside the opponent's 20 yard line (than McAfee) is a result of his kicking in better field position rather than McAfee's inability to pin an opponent deep in their own territory when presented the opportunity. If McAfee was consistently botching those opportunities by booming it through the end zone (and thus had a much higher TB rate than Colquitt), I would be more willing to agree with White Out and other commenters about Colquitt's ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory as the deciding factor. If given the choice of who I'd rather have on my team, I'd take McAfee every time.
  • Defense?
    You don't really believe McAfee could play defense on a regular basis, do you? He is capable of getting in the way when the punt team fails to bring down the returner and then by his own admission he closes is eyes and hopes for the best. Love him as a kicker and personality, not a defender
  • Tackler!
    Pat does a lot more than get in the way. He tackles better than a number of defenders, including Deion Sanders, ever did.
  • What does this tell you?
    That the Colts punt coverage must be really bad if they have to rely on the punter to save their butts. I don't think this is a good stat to have to rely on the last guy to tackle well. Why aren't the other guys doing their jobs better? That should be the bigger concern, not whether your punter tackles well. This is pretty sad when you feel your punter got snubbed for the pro bowl.
  • pat mcafee
    pat mcafees talent is not only great on the field. its off the field when he has funny sense of humour and also serious when he helped out people in my hometown after a tornado hit here in Dec. he has helped other people abroad. For his heart on & off the field - he deserves a vacation in Hawaii! Go Mcafee ! GO COLTS !

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