Terrell Owens was brought to Philadelphia to pump up the passing game, and Jevon Kearse arrived to pressure the passer. Corey Dillon was obtained to provide punch to the New England...
Terrell Owens was brought to Philadelphia to pump up the passing game, and Jevon Kearse arrived to pressure the passer.
Corey Dillon was obtained to provide punch to the New England Patriots’ rushing attack.
Champ Bailey and Clinton Portis were exchanged to give the Denver Broncos a shutdown cornerback and the Washington Redskins a rare runner.
John Lynch was sent packing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and joined Bailey in the Broncos’ secondary.
All of those players had been to the Pro Bowl at some point with their former teams. Now some of them are going back — and some aren’t.
A quick analysis of each player’s first season with his new team and whether it merited a Pro Bowl selection:
Terrell Owens, Eagles: The mercurial receiver did exactly what he was brought in to do, making his fifth Pro Bowl with 77 catches for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns before getting hurt last week. He was a key to making the Eagles the sixth-ranked offense in the league.
Jevon Kearse, Eagles: The defensive end known as “The Freak” put his speed on the line, recording 7-1/2 sacks and 21 quarterback pressures. It wasn’t enough to make him the 10th Eagle picked to this year’s Pro Bowl, but it has been enough for the Eagles’ 10th-ranked defense.
Corey Dillon, Patriots: Despite being the league’s No. 4 rusher, with 1,430 yards, the former Washington Husky and Cincinnati Bengal was edged out for the Pro Bowl by San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson. Dillon — one of several Patriots snubbed in voting — was the odd man out this year just as Tomlinson was in 2003.
Champ Bailey, Broncos: Considered by many to be the best cornerback in football before this season, Bailey himself called his first year in Denver average. He has been beaten frequently in the past two months, giving up multiple touchdowns to Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson, Oakland’s Jerry Porter and Kansas City’s Eddie Kennison in losses.
Clinton Portis, Redskins: The other half of the blockbuster deal that sent Bailey to Denver, Portis has had an up-and-down season in coach Joe Gibbs’ offense. Portis has 1,283 yards but is averaging just 3.9 per carry and has scored just five times — a big comedown for a guy who averaged more than 1,500 yards, 5.5 per rush and 14 TDs in each of his first two seasons.
John Lynch, Broncos: The hard-hitting safety has returned from a 2003 neck injury and provided solid run and blitz support for the Broncos’ seventh-ranked defense. He has 62 tackles and two sacks.
The Seahawks could have used this Pro Bowl player.
Jeremiah Trotter was cut by the Redskins in June and drifted in the free-agent wind until the Eagles — his original team — signed him in mid-July. Seattle thought Trotter was finished and decided to go with a platoon of young players at middle linebacker.
So, while the Seahawks were losing one ‘backer after another to injury this season and falling to 21st in the league in run defense, Trotter was shoring up the Eagles’ rushing defense — now ranked No. 11 — and earning a spot in the Pro Bowl.
Vick runs past other QBs
So why did Atlanta’s Michael Vick get a Pro Bowl quarterback spot over Green Bay’s Brett Favre or St. Louis’ Marc Bulger, whose passing numbers were far superior?
Because Vick’s team is better, and he runs better.
Vick’s Falcons are 11-3. And while he ranks 26th in passer rating (76.6) and 30th in completion percentage (55.7), he has made the Falcons the league’s top rushing team.
His 889 yards are the third-best rushing total by a QB in NFL history. Chicago’s Bobby Douglas rushed for 968 in 1972, and Philadelphia’s Randall Cunningham had 942 in 1990.
Vick’s 7.6-yard average also is second to Cunningham’s 7.9 among QBs with at least 100 carries in a season.
The Tennessee Titans (4-10) are out of the playoffs, but you wouldn’t know it by the play of Billy Volek and Drew Bennett.
The pair of former undrafted free agents has put up unbelievable numbers recently.
Volek has thrown for more than 400 yards in each of the past two games — a feat accomplished by just three other quarterbacks in league history.
Volek — a fifth-year player who was David Carr’s predecessor at Fresno State — has justified the Titans’ decision to sign him to a four-year, $6.8 million contract in the offseason. In his first seven starts (including one last season), he has thrown for 2,305 yards — the most prolific start to a career.
Bennett, meanwhile, has eight touchdown catches in the past three games — a scoring stretch rivaled in NFL history only by Jerry Rice, who did it in 1987 and 1993.
Bennett, a former UCLA star in his fourth season, has 28 catches for 517 yards in the past three weeks and leads the AFC (sixth in the NFL) with 1,171 yards.
“It’s kind of bittersweet because we’re not winning,” Bennett told reporters in Nashville. “I feel confident in the way I’m playing, but … we need to win some games.”
Chris Cluff: 206-464-8787 or firstname.lastname@example.org