Sunday, September 19, 2010

Does anybody want to step up at inside linebacker?

For all intents and purposes, the inside linebacker position beside Ray Lewis has amounted to little more than a revolving door. Jameel McClain remains the starter and that has more to do with his dependability than superior skills. Coaches prefer to play guys that they can count on and they are willing to accept less accomplished athletes simply because they know what they are working with. It helps coaches to coordinate an entire unit better when they know what they are getting from each position.

Tavares Gooden clearly has superior athleticism when compared to McClain but the knock on Gooden is that he doesn't adjust well to post snap changes. Consequently his assignments are fairly defined pre-snap. It's a strategy that works well when the right calls are made but it can leave a hole in the defense if coordinator Greg Mattison loses the chess move on a given play call.

Dannell Ellerbe makes more impactful plays than the others - he's the one who will jump off the screen during film study more than McClain or Gooden but the knock on Ellerbe is consistency and focus. When engaged Ellerbe shows promise but the team has had trouble keeping Ellerbe locked in. Many feel it's a question of maturity and at some point the light will come on and stay on much like it did for another former undrafted free agent linebacker the Ravens once employed.

Bart Scott started very little early in his career but when he decided to grow as a professional, so too did the number of snaps he received on the field eventually paving the way to permanent starter status and a 2006 Pro Bowl nomination.


Jerry B said...

My only comment after watching the "D" dominate for two consecutive weeks and not give up a TD is...."if it ain't broke, don't fix it"!