Friday, January 3, 2014

Bills' Alonso ROTY finalist; Jets' Richardson snubbed


Two divisional rookies had a serious shot at Rookie of the Year honors as the regular season concluded last weekend. Following the announcement of the finalists, that number was cut in half.

Buffalo's second-round pick and starting middle linebacker Kiko Alonso made the league's final cut toward top honors Friday, according to the team's website, the only defensive player in the league to do so.

Alonso will be joined by wide receivers Keenan Allen and Corarrelle Patterson and running backs Giovani Bernard and Eddie Lacy at the announcement ceremony Feb. 1 in New York City, where the winner will be determined based on fan votes through the

After finishing third in the league in tackles and tallying four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two sacks, Alonso's appearance among the finalists is no surprise. He took a staggering 1,177 snaps -- every single defensive snap for Buffalo -- which led all rookies. He tallied double-digit tackles in eight games, including a 22-tackle showing against the Cincinnati Bengals.

What's more surprising is the snubbing of fellow defensive player Sheldon Richardson, the first-round pick of the New York Jets. Richardson played 906 snaps for Gang Green, and his play -- particularly against the run -- was near the top of the league at his position, according to ProFootballFocus. And as we pointed out earlier in the week, his contributions stretched to the offensive side of the ball, as well.

After seeing the criteria for selections, however, it's a bit easier to see how Richardson's name is absent from the final ballot.

According to the league's website, the Rookie of the Week honors were, in part, used to decide the final five candidates. In 17 weeks, Richardson's name didn't appear once on the stat-heavy voting charts, not even the games in which he plowed into the end zone for a touchdown. Teammate Geno Smith's name appeared seven times. In fact, eight other AFC East players' names (including Smith) made the list at one point or another, and four divisional players were donned the weekly honors (Smith, Alonso, Calib Sturgis, E.J. Manuel).

Exactly how much the Rookie of the Week honors factored in to the actual final decision is unclear, but one thing is certain: Richardson may not have put up sexy numbers, but he deserved to be on the list, far more than Bernard, who didn't even crack 700 rushing yards on the year.

In our opinion, Alonso's a shoo-in.

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