Pro Bowl season is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the best players in football each year. But with the roster announcements and celebratory tweets also comes the talk of unfortunate snubs. This year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player slighted worse than Bears star inside linebacker Roquan Smith.
When news spread to the players, Akiem Hicks blurted out what every Bears fan must’ve thought as well.
“Pfff, what… Uhhh, ugh.”
It’s a reasonable reaction given the incredible season Smith has put together in the middle of the Bears' defense. Through 14 games, Smith ranks fourth in the NFL with 140 total tackles. That’s already a career-high for Smith, and there are still three games to go. He recorded his first career pick-six in Week 3, and also has three passes defended, three sacks and nine tackles for loss.
Great numbers, but when you compare them to the two guys who did earn the NFC Pro Bowl bids at middle/inside linebacker, the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner and Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons, they look even better.
Wagner certainly earned his spot with a league-leading 158 tackles, but Parsons trails wayyyyy behind not only Wagner and Smith, but most of the league, with only 71 tackles in 14 games. Wagner also has one interception, like Smith, but here Parsons lags behind again, with none. There is one area where Parsons makes a case for himself over Smith however: sacks. Parsons has dropped the quarterback a remarkable 12 times, while Smith has three and Wagner has only one.
Outside the numbers, Smith has displayed incredible sideline-to-sideline speed. He routinely comes flying out of nowhere to stop a running back gunning for a first down. But no stop has been more impressive, or more deserving of Pro Bowl attention than his tackle on Kyler Murray in the open field.
That play shows up in the box score as just a regular ol' tackle, but it's clearly much more than that.
Regardless of this snub, Smith still has a chance to earn All-Pro honors. At the very least, Hicks assured all that not only the Bears, but all Smith’s NFL peers, recognize his phenomenal play.
“The guys in the locker room respect his play,” Hicks said. “His play is respected around the league whether they put his name on the paper or not.”