I was shocked when I read Russell Wilson was sacked four times in the Pro Bowl. Then I saw the footage, and my despair turned to laughter.
It is a fact that Russell Wilson was sacked four times in the NFL Pro Bowl. When I first read this, I was dumbfounded. Wilson is one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the game. This is a demonstrable fact. It’s also a fact he was sacked 51 times in the 2018 season, despite having the best offensive line in at least the past three years. Were these Pro Bowl sacks more evidence that Wilson sometimes holds the ball too long and creates the sacks himself?
I was primed to write an article on that very premise. Yes, the best pass rushers in the AFC were after him in this game, but he had the best offensive linemen in the NFC protecting him. Surely, these sacks were on Wilson, not the line. This had to be more evidence that he still has more to work on in his game, despite his accomplishments. And then I saw footage of the “sacks”.
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As you can tell from my phrasing, I did not watch the Pro Bowl. The reason I didn’t watch is that I’m a fan of football. I’m not quite sure what it is they play in Orlando on the last Sunday in January, but it isn’t football. I would have preferred to watch snow melt than watch the Pro Bowl As it is, I watched two episodes of The Punisher. Any random moment of that show had more action than the Pro Bowl. And there are a lot of scenes of people just talking, surprising as that may be.
Back to the game. So I finally watched these alleged sacks of Russell Wilson, and I’m so happy that I did. All my fears of any possible regression by DangeRuss disappeared, much like the sun in Central Florida during the game. The first sack by the Chargers Melvin Ingram is almost legit:
I will add that the left tackle basically waved “Hi” to Ingram as he blew past him, and the running back clearly wanted no part of him either. Yes, it was play-action, but the defender was directly in front of him when the back made his cut inside. Good play by Ingram, I’ll give him that.
The second “sack” was definitely the flag football variety. Here’s the play, made by the Steelers Cameron Heyward. No judgment on Heyward. You play until the whistle is blown. And they blew the whistle very, very early. As Booger McFarland said, “You don’t even have to wrap up”.
I wasn’t able to find licensed footage to post for the last two “sacks”. Suffice to say that the Jaguars Calias Campbell hugged it out with Wilson, and the moment they touched, the whistle blew. The final sack was an absolute mockery of the term. The right tackle extended his arms and held his “block” on the Browns Myles Garrett for about one-tenth of a second, then trots off into the backfield. Garrett decides that he came to actually play a little ball, so he continues on his path to Wilson and gives him the Campbell bear hug of love.
The Pro Bowl weekend is great; the game, not so much
Four so-called sacks, and only the first could have possibly happened in an actual football game. Make no mistake: I don’t want the best pass rushers in the game teeing off on the quarterbacks. Nothing would be worse than getting hurt in a stupid, meaningless exhibition.
And that’s the problem. The Pro Bowl itself is a meaningless contest. Why bother keeping stats, or even the score when it’s so clear that no one takes the game seriously? And they shouldn’t, exactly because it’s meaningless.
I’m all for skills competitions – which Russell Wilson dominated, of course – and things like the dodgeball game. It’s a lot of fun to see so many of the NFL’s best players just out there having fun. For the record, I watched about ten times as much of the dodgeball contest than the alleged football game. Here are the highlights of the Pro Bowl weekend’s best competition:
I’m not so worried about Russell WIlson’s sack rate anymore. At least not due to anything that happened in the weak exhibition the NFL delivered Sunday. Now, as for his dodgeball game… maybe he isn’t Mr. Unnlimited after all.