Monday, January 17, 2011
Year in Review: Linebackers
Besides being in the playoffs what do the Jets, Steelers, Packers and Bears have in common? They all have high quality line backers. Whether it's a Pro Bowler like Bart Scott, former defensive players of the years in James Harrison and Brian Urlacher, or perhaps who many feel is the 2010 Defensive player in Clay Matthews (myself included), these defenses are built around these guys. The Giants, on the other hand, not so much. They are still trying to replace Antonio Pierce, who's been analyzing on ESPN since he retired.
Many people blame the secondary for most of the big plays the Giants gave up this season. Granted, they look bad when that happens, but I'm not blaming the secondary for that. I'm placing most of the blame on the linebackers, because those plays never should've gotten to the corners and safeties. If Tuck, Umenyiora or anyone else on that defensive line didn't stop the running backs or wide receivers, we all know the line backers weren't going to. Just take a look at both Eagles games. In the 1st game LeSean McCoy had 14 rushes for 111 yards. By looking at that, you would say he had a great day, but he really didn't. Every play except for two they were stopped by the defensive line for at most 2 yards. Two plays, both late in the 4th quarter, McCoy had both a 45-yard run, and a 50-yard touchdown run. That should never happen to a team that ranks 6th in the NFL in total defense.
A cornerback should never lead a team in tackles. That simply should not happen, but it did. Not only did Terrell Thomas lead Big Blue in tackles this season, but 3 out of the top 4 players in the tackles category were in the secondary (Rolle, Phillips, Thomas), and only Michael Boley, who ranked 3rd, was in the top 5 out of all the linebackers. Compare that to the Chicago Bears, where not only is Brian Urlacher 1st on the team in tackles, but another linebacker Lance Briggs ranks 2nd. In other words, the linebackers for the Giants this year was just awful.
Now I don't know what the Giants have to do to improve here, but they have to do something whether it's give Clint Sintim a shot or draft one in the 1st round, because the kind of line backer they need, do not leave their team, because those kinds of players are too valuable to give up.