Reshad Jones is a man of few words. Apparently, snub is one of them.
Jones, the soft-spoken, ball-hawking safety, had a breakout season for the Dolphins. Other than Cameron Wake, he probably has been the best defensive player on the team all year.
But unlike Wake, Jones won’t be spending late January in Honolulu. When the Pro Bowl selections were announced Wednesday evening, Wake was the only Dolphins player named.
Granted, the safeties who did get picked — Baltimore’s Ed Reed, Kansas City’s Eric Berry and the Jets’ LaRon Landry — are known quantities.
But surely, a guy with 86 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack has to make it as an alternate, right?
Evidently not. Jones wasn’t even one of the seven Dolphins named as emergency fill-ins Thursday. (The team’s Pro Bowl alternates are Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks and Brandon Fields.)
“I was disappointed, because I was feeling I was going to be one of those guys,” said Jones, who admitted he felt snubbed by the omission.
When asked if the voting — which is equally weighted among fans, players and coaches — was flawed, Jones said:
“I think it is sometimes, when you have the fans get a big percentage of it,” Jones said. “But it’s all for them, so I can kind of understand.”
Perhaps the blame doesn’t lie solely with the public. Players and even some coaches often vote as much on reputation as they do on actual year-to-year performance. They simply have better things to do than to give it great thought.
“In no way am I looking at a particular player and how he compares to other players,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “I’m not really thinking about a hierarchy of strong safeties or quarterbacks or anything like that.”
So then should coaches even have a vote? Philbin punted on that subject.
“There’s a process that they have, sure,” he said.
If that process made mandatory even the most cursory look at the stat sheet, Jones would be in the game.
While Pro Football Focus ranks Jones as the third-best safety in all of football, Reed, Berry and Landry haven’t graded out among the 40 best at the position this year.
Landry has more tackles and forced fumbles, but he’s the only one of the three whose totals are even comparable to Jones’ stat line.
“The guy balled out this year,” Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith said. “It’s crazy.”
When asked to explain the paucity of Dolphins headed to Hawaii, Smith pointed the finger of blame on the team itself.
“You’ve got to win,” he said. “Once we start winning some games and people start looking at our roster, why are we winning these games, we’ll start getting some attention.”
Jones might have also been a victim of circumstance. His best game of the season — Jones recovered two fumbles and had an interception in the Dolphins’ 24-10 victory against the Bills on Sunday — came after the ballots were due.
That doesn’t mean the performance went unnoticed. Patriots coach Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise when Jones’ name came up Wednesday.
Maybe that’s because Belichick saw firsthand the damage Jones can do. The Dolphins safety was the only player in a seven-game stretch to intercept Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the first time these teams played.
“He’s been involved in a lot of big plays lately,” Belichick said. “The interception at the end of the game against Buffalo [on Sunday], just being there in the throwing lane — probably 90 percent of the guys that would have been involved in that play would have batted it down, and he intercepted it.
“He does a good job of tackling, he’s a physical kid and he’s shown up around the ball. I think that’s where he jumps out at you, is the plays that he makes.”
Since the Dolphins enter Week 17 out of playoff consideration, Sunday in New England will be Jones’ last chance to make such plays for eight months. The Dolphins are CBS’ late national game, so America will get the opportunity to watch him in action — even if it’s a few weeks too late to make a difference.
“It’s not something I like,” Jones said, when asked of the slight. “But in the near future, if we keep playing some good football, they won’t keep looking over us.”