Watch: ESPN’s “Football Insiders” shows that no one’s looking at the Patriots’ defensive line
The NFL is facing a backlash over the way it conducted its annual Pro Bowl evaluation, which is supposed to measure players’ potential to help the team in its quest to win a championship.
The league says it used “objective criteria” to evaluate players and has since made changes to the process.
But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to discredit the results.
For example, ESPN’s Football Insiders website has been bombarded with negative comments and emails calling for an end to the NFL’s evaluation process.
One user, Mike Mankiewicz, posted on the site in the wake of the Pro Bowl review, writing: “ESPN is being held to a higher standard than the rest of the league and is being criticized by the rest as well.
The NFL, like any other organization, can’t hide behind the ‘objective’ criteria and say ‘We are doing a great job here and we are giving our players an equal opportunity to be successful.'”
While the comments don’t come from ESPN or other NFL sites, they are similar to a number of other criticisms leveled against the process, including that it was conducted by people who aren’t in the league.ESPN said Monday it has “taken steps to address the concerns” of the user and the site has deleted the comment.
But many other sports fans have also criticized the NFL.
On Twitter, several sports fans called for an independent review of the process and called for it to be halted.
One of the more common criticisms of the NFL Pro Bowl process is that it’s biased in favor of the Patriots.ESPN’s report on its review of Patriots defensive lineman Chandler Jones, a first-round draft pick in 2012, is one of several articles that have suggested that the Patriots might be the most undervalued defensive player on the field.
Jones has been criticized for his poor performance during the Patriots first four games of the season.
Jones has been fined $50,000 and given a two-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.ESPN reported last week that Jones is “an offensive lineman and has had some issues over the years.”
The network also reported that the NFL has “made some adjustments” to the way the league evaluates defensive linemen, but those have not been widely publicized.
The Patriots were the only team in the NFL to not have an overall Pro Bowl selection for its defensive line this year, meaning that Jones didn’t receive a first ballot, nor was he one of only six defensive linemen in the game.
In the past, the NFL and the league office have criticized the Patriots for their lack of pass rush or run defense.
The Patriots have had the best defensive line in the Super Bowl era, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Patriots rank second in sacks (16.5) and first in run defense (38.2).
On Monday, the Patriots defended their team’s play, saying Jones didn, in fact, have a strong season, and that they were able to get the most out of their pass rush because of the team’s personnel.
“We’re not trying to take any of it away from our players,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
“We’re trying to play smart and we have been.”