What We Learned in Pro Bowl Weekend in the NFL:
- New Pro Bowl format makes for more competitive game that no one watched
- Steelers Antonio Brown gets one catch for longest reception of Pro Bowl
- Steelers RB Coach Kirby Wilson leaves for Minnesota
The new Pro Bowl format, an un-conferenced format, was billed all season long as “Fantasy Football, for real” and promised to deliver an all-star game the fans had never before seen in the NFL. Well, there might not have been a whole lot of fans that even saw this game. While it was more competitive than recent years, Team Rice won with a final touchdown drive to beat Team Sanders 22-21, if you’re looking for ratings based on the Twitter feed from Sunday night, the game didn’t garner a whole lot of attention at all.
With the new format, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders were the alumni team captains who were able to draft their respective Pro Bowl teams out of the voted players. Teammates played against teammates, and players played against their coaching staffs. The changes didn’t stop there. The NFL also eliminated kickoffs and the teams changed possession at the start of each quarter instead of half. Also, bump-and-run coverage was allowed in the defense secondary. The result, a sack and turnover-heavy low-scoring Pro Bowl that was probably a lot more competitive than anyone can remember. Whether or not it stacks up against the previous years’ Pro Bowl ratings numbers is still yet to be determined.
The lone Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowler playing on Sunday night, WR Antonio Brown caught one pass for 39 yards in the contest for Team Sanders. Brown’s 39-yard reception was the longest reception of the game. Brown also had a 7-yard punt return in the game. The Steelers had only 2 Pro Bowlers selected this season with Troy Polamalu opting out of the game to recover from regular season injuries.
The Steelers lost another position coach this weekend with RB’s coach Kirby Wilson, who had been in serious consideration for the Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator position, leaving to join the coaching staff for the Minnesota Vikings. So Wilson is trading working with Le’Veon Bell for Adrian Peterson. Can’t say I blame him. Clearly the writing has been on the wall for the coach once thought to be the OC-in-waiting before he was badly burned in a house fire in 2012. Since then the Steelers hired Todd Haley and the offense has been nothing but daisies and buttercups. Obviously I’m using a bit of sarcasm there.
I’m not going to speculate as far as the reason why the Steelers have lost as many assistant coaches on the offensive side in the past few years. No one that has left has taken any opportunities to say anything other than glowing, respectful things about the organization. While I’m sure there must be something there that has made coaches want to look elsewhere for employment, it might not be as dramatic as all the alleged drama that has surrounded Todd Haley since he joined the coaching staff. I don’t find it necessary to create drama where there isn’t any or speculate on things we can’t possibly confirm. For all we know Wilson has been planning to leave since the hiring of Haley simply because he wants to move up with a team and it’s pretty clear that Haley is the OC for the Steelers for the unforeseeable future.