The 2022 Pro Bowl selections are out. This is the first year where they are not actually playing the Pro Bowl game that we have been used to; instead, they are doing a series of skills competitions and a flag football game. (Cue the jokes about how the Pro Bowl was already the latter and they’re just now making it official.) Still, the Pro Bowl does remain a measuring stick for some of the best players in the NFL – and a point of debate about who deserved to get the honors and who did not. Let’s look at the Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl selections, alternates, and snubs.
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Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl Selections and Snubs
This year there are a grand total of two Pro Bowl selections for the Chargers (not including alternates). This is the same number they had in the 2020 season when they finished 7-9 – in contrast, they are currently 8-6 this year. This number is kind of telling in both how shaky the year has been for the Chargers despite their winning record – and also the number of injuries they have had.
Safety Derwin James and edge rusher Khalil Mack are the Pro Bowl selections for the Chargers this year. For James, this is unsurprising; he has been a Pro Bowler every year that he hasn’t missed most or all of the season due to injury. He remains a critical piece for the Chargers and one of the best safeties in the league, able to play almost everywhere on defense.
Mack making it is a minor surprise, given that he has not stuffed the stat sheet to the degree of his All-Pro days. However, he’s still had a strong season and would probably have more sacks than he currently does (seven) if not for Joey Bosa being out almost all year and thus teams stacking the offensive line to keep Mack out due to the lack of a consistent threat on the opposite side. The fact that they have to resort to that strategy is telling, though. While not quite elite, this has been a good bounce-back year for Mack after missing over half of 2021 due to injury.
There were six alternates listed for the Chargers – halfback Austin Ekeler (first alternate), center Corey Linsley (first), Justin Herbert (second), long snapper Josh Harris (second), JK Scott (fourth), and return man DeAndre Carter (fifth).
Ekeler has been a frequent snub from the Pro Bowl starters, but when the top three selections are Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry, it’s difficult to argue with that this year. We almost certainly will not be seeing any of their teams in the Super Bowl either, so barring someone nursing an injury, we won’t be seeing Ekeler’s number called up.
Linsley being an alternate and not a starter is a bit of a surprise, given that his production has not really dropped noticeably. Still, he managed to get snubbed from the Pro Bowl in 2020 and get an AP All-Pro anyway.
It’s not really surprising that Herbert is not a starter this year either – we know he’s more than capable, but he spent a month and a half hampered by injury and now he’s just being hampered by an overly passive offensive coordinator – thus his stats aren’t quite what they were his first two years. It’s hard to argue with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow all going ahead of him. One of those three could easily end up in the Super Bowl though, so even as a second alternate, Herbert has an outside chance to get called up.
The remaining three selections are a testament to how much improved the Chargers special teams have been as of late. Even when fans have been calling for the heads of the coaching staff during the season’s lower points, such cries never extended to special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken. These guys are too far down on the alternate list to have much of a shot of getting called up (except maybe Harris), but it’s still noteworthy for Chargers fans with regard to how good special teams have been.
There actually is not a whole lot in the way of outright snubs this year. Too many players that might normally have been in the conversation have been hampered by injury this year (Keenan Allen, for one). Linsley being an alternate is one of the bigger notable “snubs” here, but at least he still got first alternate status.
Slot corner Bryce Callahan not even getting an alternate nod is arguably low-key the biggest snub, even though slot corners do seem to have a tougher time getting Pro Bowl recognition sometimes. But Callahan is still tied for the AFC lead in interceptions – even with only three, which feels like a commentary on how few ball-hawks there have been in that conference this year. Granted, you have players like Sauce Gardner that have few interceptions but have still been shutdown corners and deserve to be in the Pro Bowl – but Callahan (who has always been one of the better slot corners in the league when healthy) not even getting alternate seems like an oversight.
Another name that stands out a little for not even having gotten alternate status (albeit to a lesser extent than Callahan) is nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day. He has been a difference-maker on the defensive line this year. Not quite a strong enough season to make starter status, but the lack of even an alternate nod is notable. The same goes for inside linebacker Drue Tranquill, who is having the best season of his career and had less tough competition for a spot than Joseph-Day did.
The Chargers are not going to have much Pro Bowl representation this year – and while that is unfortunate, it is also somewhat expected due to the sheer number of injuries and inconsistent play. Still, there’s a good chance of Corey Linsley getting elevated to getting to play, given that the two starting AFC centers are from Super Bowl contenders; Herbert and Ekeler have smaller but still possible chances.
Regardless, if one feels like the Chargers got a little slighted this year, it bears remembering that at the end of the day, the Pro Bowl is basically a popularity contest – and the Chargers aren’t quite on the right side of that right now, not to mention the injury bug knocking out otherwise probable Pro Bowlers.
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