James Bradberry has the lowest opposing QB passer rating in the NFL. Javon Hargrave has the most sacks among NFC interior linemen.
Both are having monster seasons for the NFL’s No. 2-ranked defense.
It wasn’t enough.
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Bradberry and Hargrave were both left off the NFC Pro Bowl team, which was announced Wednesday evening.
Both have been Pro Bowlers in the past – Bradberry in 2020 with the Giants and Hargrave last year. But that didn’t make the news any easier to take.
“Definitely disappointing, but there’s nothing I can really do about it right now,” Hargrave said at his locker Thursday. “Just focus on this game and trying to get better. There’s still three more games left, just a little more fuel, a little more motivation going into these games.”
Darius Slay and Haason Reddick are the only members of the Eagles’ defense represented on the Pro Bowl team.
The Eagles, 13-1, are ranked No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense at 172 yards per game, No. 2 in yards allowed at 293 (the 49ers are at 286), No. 1 with 15 interceptions and No. 1 with 55 sacks.
Hargrave said he, Bradberry and Sweat allowed themselves a few minutes to be disappointed before moving on.
“Yeah, we just cried for a little bit,” he said. “Then we kind of laughed about it.”
What makes Hargrave’s snub more surprising is that he was the leading vote recipient in the fan vote, which counts one-third of the total vote. Coaches and players make up the other two-thirds.
Hargrave’s 10 sacks are 7th-most ever by an Eagles interior lineman and just 1 ½ off the club record of 11 ½ set in 1993 by Andy Harmon – another Pro Bowl snub from three decades ago.
What else does he have to do to get recognized?
“I don’t really know,” he said. “I don’t understand. But that ain’t for me to understand, I guess. I would think (I did enough), but I guess they don’t feel that. So use it as a little motivation and get myself right for the game.
“I got to go earn that respect,” he said. “Got to earn that respect.”
Josh Sweat, whose 9 ½ sacks are 3rd-most among NFC edge rushers; T.J. Edwards, who is Pro Football Focus’s 3rd-ranked linebacker; and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who still leads the NFL in interceptions despite missing the last three games, are also glaring Pro Bowl snubs just on the defensive side of the ball.
“I wasn’t the only one that missed out,” Bradberry said. “I can’t be too upset.”
But Bradberry has been lights out this year, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 42.2 passer rating when targeting him. Next-best in the league is a 53.5 mark belonging to Tariq Woolen, a rookie 5th-round pick of the Seahawks who shares the NFL interception lead with Gardner-Johnson.
That 42.2 mark is lowest among cornerbacks since Pro Football Reference began tracking defensive passer rating in 2018.
Darius Slay, the Eagles’ other cornerback, did make his fifth Pro Bowl team.
“It was a little disappointing,” Bradberry said. “I think I played well enough to be selected for it. But it’s not a huge thing. Didn’t make me cry or anything. I figured they weren’t going to take both of us.”
Five members of the defense - Hargrave, Bradberry, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Sweat – were named alternates, although nobody seems to know yet what number alternate each one is.
And the nature of this year’s game – it’s a skills competition instead of an actual football game – could reduce the number of players who opt out with injuries.
But the Pro Bowl isn’t what anybody on this team is really concerned with right now.
There’s a huge game against the Cowboys Saturday and a No. 1 seed to secure.
“I’m just looking forward to going down to play Dallas,” Bradberry said. “I’m not even thinking about the Pro Bowl anymore.
“The results came out, it is what it is, I’m trying to move on. Still got the playoffs and I still got free agency after the season.”
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