ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Now it can be said: George Paton inherited an empty cupboard of talent.
The NFL announced its Pro Bowl teams Wednesday. Zero Broncos were honored. Nada. Not even Justin Simmons. It's the first time since 1980 the Broncos have not had a Pro Bowl selection.
Simmons was a first alternate, as was rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II and left tackle Garett Bolles. But no doubt, Simmons was the greatest snub. Maybe the only snub. His five interceptions are tied for the best among league’s safeties. And for a brief time this offseason, Simmons was the NFL’s highest-paid safety with a $15.25 million per year average. He is also an every-down player whose 68 tackles are second on the team to safety partner Kareem Jackson’s 75.
But after he was named second-team All Pro in 2019 and a Pro Bowler for the first time in 2020, Simmons goes without a second Pro Bowl nod in 2021, at least for now. Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday that Simmons, Surtain, rookie running back Javonte Williams and veteran rushing partner Melvin Gordon III were deserving of Pro Bowl honors.
“I think for sure Justin Simmons will be on there,’’ Fangio said Wednesday. “He made it last year and he’s had a better season this year.’’
Nope. The Broncos had zero. On the bright side, Paton's first two picks in his first draft class for the Broncos -- Surtain II and Williams -- were Pro Bowl alternates. Surtain was a first alternate and Williams a 5th. They were joined by outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who is a No. 3 alternate and safety Kareem Jackson, who is a 5th.
It speaks to the respect Chubb has around the league as he has 0 sacks in an injury-plagued year. And Jackson is still going strong at 33.
Still, the Pro Bowl whitewash is an indictment on the Broncos' overall talent -- or at least how the league and fan base views the Broncos' talent.
Perhaps, the job Fangio has done as head coach should be viewed a little more favorably. How many other teams are as good as 7-7 despite not having a Pro Bowl player?
The Giants, Jets, Lions, Jaguars and Texans were the other teams that didn't have a Pro Bowler. The most wins among those teams is 4. The Broncos have 7.
Paton, the Broncos’ first-year general manager, will need to get busy. No one worked harder this season to upgrade the back-end of the roster. The Pro Bowl selections announced Wednesday, though, suggests he has considerable work to do at the top end of the roster.
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