For years the St. Louis Rams have had little to offer Pro Bowl voters. Bad teams and a media blackout from the national press kept what few candidates the Rams had far outside the minds of voters for the NFL's mostly meaningless all-star game. It used to be that Steven Jackson and punter Donnie Jones were perennially snubbed; this year, defensive end Chris Long is the one likely to get overlooked.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was the leading vote getter at defensive end in the NFC (Robert Mathis had that honor in the AFC, so it's not like being on a terrible, poorly run team should keep Long out of the mix). It's tough to argue against Allen. Like Long, he's been a bright spot for a two-win team. But Long deserves at least as much love from you, the voters.
Long's 12 sacks rank third in the league, behind only Allen and DeMarcus Ware, tied with Justin Babin. Those 12 sacks already represent a career-high for Long, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft. If the Rams had any depth in the middle of their line and something other than broken strat-o-matic parts for their outside linebackers, Long would be leading one of the league's better units. He's not, but that doesn't make his accomplishment any less notable. In fact, it might make it more notable.
Long's contributions have given the Rams the third highest sack rate of any defense, per Football Outsiders' stats. With 33 sacks, it represents a rate of 8.3 percent of all passing plays. Only Houston and Baltimore do better. Of course, why pass on the Rams when you can run on them all day, but that's for another post.
There's also another lesson here, one of patience. Two years ago a number of people were panning Long and his draft status. Funny, but I don't hear anyone calling him a bust these days.