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Mailbag: Were There Any Pro Bowl Snubs?

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The Cowboys landed no players on this year's Pro Bowl team. The only snub, as far as I am concerned, is LP Ladouceur. If based on performance, I'm not sure how he can be overlooked for all the years of perfection as a long snapper. Thoughts? Any other players you felt were a "snub?" —TERRY HAMILTON / PORTAGEVILLE, MO

David: There's actually an interesting tidbit about that. Prior to last year, long snappers weren't voted into the Pro Bowl, they were chosen by the staff that was coaching the game. That's why L.P.'s lone Pro Bowl selection came in 2014, when Jason Garrett and his staff coached the game after getting knocked out of the playoffs. As far as snubs from this year's team? Not really. Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence are having solid seasons, but not so amazing that I'd consider them snubs.

Rob: To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how Ladouceur compares to the rest of the league's long snappers. All I know is he's been doing this since 2005 and he's basically been perfect at his job for 16 seasons. I'm a little surprised Zack Martin didn't make it. I know he's had a couple different injuries this year, but he's widely regarded as one of the league's best linemen, 10 starts is still a decent amount of games, and he made a seamless (though temporary) transition from guard to tackle this year, too.

Why don't we play more linebackers to help the DL stop the run? Week in and week out, the defense is struggling on run defense, so playing more linebackers instead of DB's should be the answer. What do you think? — JEFF GILBERT / GOLDTHWAITE, TX

David: I've seen a lot of people mention this in recent weeks, and I guess my answer depends on what type of personnel they're facing. Baltimore ran a lot of multi-tight end sets and occasionally used a fullback, and in that scenario I agree with you. The problem is that 11 personnel (or three wide receivers) has become the norm in the NFL, and you're going to get yourself in trouble asking a linebacker to cover a wide receiver. For the most part, nickel has become the base defense of the NFL, and we've seen plenty of teams still manage to stop the run with smaller personnel on the field. I'm not buying it as a great excuse for why the run defense has struggled at times.

Rob: You've obviously been reading Mickey's fine work. He has focused on this in recent weeks, and I agree with Dave that it makes sense if you need to match a heavier personnel group by the offense. I'm not sure it's the main cause of the Cowboys' overall troubles against the run, though. Looking to this particular matchup, the Eagles have a ton of speed at running back and receiver, not to mention Jalen Hurts' ability to make plays with his feet. The Cowboys have to make sure they field a lineup that can best handle Philly's skill players in space. We'll see how they approach that.

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