O'Hara's Monday Countdown: Why Calvin Johnson wasn't a unanimous All-Pro selection

Posted Jan 14, 2013

Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Houston's JJ Watt were unanimous selections in this year's Associated Press All-Pro voting. Why wasn't Detroit's Calvin Johnson?

The NFL has shown again that it makes more news about nothing than any other sports league.

Latest case in point: this year’s All-Pro voting. The results were released Saturday, and one voter created an uproar because Calvin Johnson wasn’t one of the two wide receivers on his ballot.

This week’s Monday Countdown focuses on voting rights - and wrongs - the voting process conducted by the Associated Press, and what we might deduce about Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Detroit Lions from recent Pro Bowl and All-Pro votes. There’s also an observation on the draft status of Denard Robinson and Manti T’eo.

We start with the All-Pro vote, and the process:
1. The process: Each year, the Associated Press conducts the vote for what is generally considered the official All-Pro team. Voting is done by 50 media members around the country. Most are writers who cover the NFL, and some are broadcasters.

Detroit, which has had an NFL franchise since 1934, had a vote for many years but it was surrendered a few years ago. From personal experience - that is, lobbying to get it back - I can say that the AP shows no inclination to restore Detroit’s All-Pro vote.

One would think the bosses of Michigan’s major news organizations who cover the Lions would lean on the AP to get the vote back - or give up the having its members vote for the Heisman Trophy, the Hall of Fame and any all-star or honor teams.

Each AP voter gets one vote - for first place only. In the case of positions such as wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback and others that use two players at a time, there are two votes. There is one vote for positions held down by one player, such as quarterback, center, kicker and punter.

The method of determining the All-Pros is simple. Whoever gets the most votes makes the first team. The next most votes make the second team.
2. The vote: Two players are unanimous All-Pros this year with all 50 votes - Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

Calvin Johnson had the next highest total with 49 votes, one short of being unanimous. Brandon Marshall of Chicago was the second All-Pro receiver with 23 votes.

Suh was second-team All-Pro at defensive tackle with five votes.

Johnson and Suh are the only Lions who got votes.
3. Johnson’s missing vote: It was reported by the Associated Press that Tim Ryan, a former NFL defensive lineman and analyst on NFL games for the FOX network, cast his votes for Brandon Marshall of the Bears and A.J. Green of the Bengals.

Five other receivers besides Johnson, Marshall and Green (18.5) got votes: Andre Johnson of Houston (8.5), Demaryius Thomas of Denver (1), Wes Welker of New England (1) and Julio Jones of Atlanta (1).
4. The uproar: It is obvious to anyone who kept half an eye on the NFL this season that aside from the quarterbacks, nobody dominated their positions more than Watt, Peterson and Calvin Johnson.

They were a cut above their peers in every way. Watt destroyed offenses with sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers created.

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards - 484 than No. 2 rusher Alfred Morris of Washington.

Calvin led the NFL with 122 receptions and in receiving yards with 1,964. He broke Jerry Rice’s receiving yards record of 1,848, set in 1995. Marshall was second in receptions (118) and receiving yards (1.508). Johnson beat him by 456 yards.

Green had 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs. With Ryan’s vote helping, he made second-team All-Pro.

Ryan explained his decision to the Sports Xchange, saying Johnson dropped a lot of passes, and that the Lions’ 4-12 record worked against him.

The bottom line is that Calvin got 98 percent of the votes (49-50), and he’s All-Pro for the second straight year.
5. Voting rights and wrongs:

Right - I think Ryan got it way wrong in his vote for receivers - and that’s his right. He shouldn’t have his vote taken away, as some are clamoring to happen. I wouldn’t even ask for Rupert Murdoch to tap his phone.
Wrong - According to one media researcher, Johnson and Marshall both had 10 drops. Green had nine.

Based on the number of times they were targeted, Johnson had a lower drop percentage than Marshall and Green - 4.8 percent (10 drops of 205 times targeted). 5.1 percent for Marshall (10 of 194 times targeted) and 5.4 percent for Green (9 of 164 times targeted).
6. Receiver competition: There are so many productive receivers in the NFL that are deserving of an All-Pro vote. Marshall, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Green and Welker all have All-Pro credentials.

But picking two of them ahead of Calvin is saying he is no better than the third-best receiver in the league.

That’s idiotic.
7. Suh: One man’s opinion - being voted second team All-Pro this year is more meaningful than when he made the first team as a rookie in 2010.

Suh rode a wave of publicity and goodwill from the end of his senior season at Nebraska through his entire rookie season. And much of it was well deserved. He had 10 sacks as a rookie.

But the wave of goodwill turned into a flood of controversy the last two years, from fans, media and players alike. If Suh is hurt by anything, it has to be the continued shots he gets from players about being dirty and how much they dislike him.

In All-Pro voting by the media, he got the second most votes in the NFC behind the 49ers’ Justin Smith, who had 17.

In Pro Bowl voting by players, coaches and fans, Suh was the first alternate behind Smith and Gerald McCoy of the Bucs.

All it says is that somebody likes the way he plays tackle.

8. Shut out: In the last four years, 1999-2012, Suh and Johnson are the only Lions to get any votes for All-Pro. That should indicate that the building process GM Martin Mayhew inherited was more difficult than we might have thought.

Going through the votes for those years adds to the feeling that the offensive line and secondary are in for an overhaul.
9. Denard: Agreeing to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 is a good idea - with one condition. He should do drills specific to running back, receiver and return specialist in preparation. The week of practice is as important as playing in the game, and in many cases, more-so.

Robinson’s future in the pros is not at quarterback. If he can field punts and kickoffs, catch passes downfield and run out of the backfield, he’ll have a career in the NFL.
10. T’eo: His performance in Notre Dame’s blowout loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game didn’t hurt his draft stock. He was rated somewhere in the bottom half of the first round - at best.

That didn’t change - for now.