For the second straight year, the NFL had to dig deep into the AFC stable of quarterbacks to help replace Patrick Mahomes in the Pro Bowl.
The NFL named Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew II to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, as well as Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud. The pair will replace Mahomes, who will be busy preparing for the Super Bowl, and MVP favorite Lamar Jackson, who apparently opted to not participate.
That's "Pro Bowler Gardner Minshew" to you. pic.twitter.com/FHZy28l7Mf
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 30, 2024
Stroud's addition isn't too surprising. He just finished one of the most electric rookie years the NFL has seen from a quarterback and might already be considered in the top 10 of his position.
Minshew, however, is another matter.
It's not that the fifth-year player had a bad year. He came up big for the Colts after rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson was knocked out for the season with a shoulder injury, keeping the team in playoff contention up until the final week.
It's just that Minshew's numbers, such as his 15-to-9 touchdown-interception ratio and his 6.7 yards per pass attempt, aren't what you would consider star numbers. And the point of the Pro Bowl is to showcase the NFL's stars.
This is obviously similar to the situation last year that saw Baltimore Ravens back-up quarterback Tyler Huntley named to the AFC roster despite starting only four games.
Like last year, Minshew's selection comes down to which of the 16 AFC teams had an actually good quarterback this season who is still available to play.
Mahomes and Jackson were out. Tua Tagovailoa is already on the roster. Justin Herbert is recovering from finger surgery. Josh Allen would rather golf, like last year. Joe Burrow was knocked out for the season in Week 11. Trevor Lawrence had some health issues as the season ended. Russell Wilson has suffered enough.
And it's not like anyone was knocking on doors for passers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets or New England Patriots. However, throwing Joe Flacco in there might not have been the worst idea (the Browns QB and longtime Ravens starter never made a Pro Bowl), but a Minshew-Flacco debate would strongly underscore how barren the NFL's options were.
So let Minshew and the Colts have their fun. That's what the Pro Bowl is for.