Breaking Down the Monster: Linebackers Edition
The hit squad, the wrecking crew, mean machine. Linebacking squads have had many names throughout the history of the NFL. Last year the Colts, after many years of ineptitude, put what seems to be an above average unit on the field.
Not only were our linebackers responsible for their own gaps, but because of the horrible play of the defensive line, they were also responsible for the missed assignments of those players.
As always, let’s start with some stats: During the 2012 season Colts linebackers racked up a total of two interceptions, 22 sacks, and 13 passes defended. Put that on top of the numerous sacks the linebacking core had, and you have a very competent unit.
Easily the best of the bunch, Jerrell Freeman led the Colts with 145 tackles; 45 more than the second leading tackler on the team, Antoine Bethea.
So where does the weakness in this group lie? Soon-to-be former outside linebacker, Dwight Freeney. Mr Freeney was simply inept in his conversion to a stand up rush linebacker as he could not cover anything coming out of the backfield. That is not to say that Freeney is a bad player, he simply does not fit in this scheme.
So with that being said, I am going to list several free agent outside linebackers that the Colts could be looking for in the offseason.
Everywhere you turn in Colts world, you hear Paul Kruger’s name pop up. At an imposing 6′ 4″ and 270 pounds, Kruger is an opposing specimen that I certainly wouldn’t hate to see signed to the Colts roster.
My only concern is consistency. Kruger finished last year with a total of nine sacks, all of which came in the second half of the season. While a lot of people claim something ‘clicked’ and it certainly looks like it, there is just something about Kruger that makes me hesitant to pay him the big bucks that he is going to demand on the open market.
To put it simply, while I am not against bringing Kruger on to play for the team, I am not for spending the top dollar price tag that he is going to demand as an outside linebacker in the National Football League.
After a down season consisting of only three sacks and five passes batted down, a lot of people have written Connor Barwin off as done even though he is only five years into his NFL career. Those people are what I call ‘not so smart.’
Connor Barwin is young and just about to enter his prime. At the age of 26, standing at 6′ 4″ and weighing in at 268 pounds, Barwin is the perfect combination of size and speed to compliment the Colts’ otherwise small linebacking core.
Anthony Spencer finished the season with 11 total sacks, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Following his best season so far in the NFL, Spencer is primed to receive big time money from an NFL organization running a 3-4 attacking philosophy; if the Colts are lucky, they will be that team.
Spencer is that rare combination of speed, technique, and sheer power that defensive coordinators drool over and offensive tackles fear. All of this in a small package at 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds, Spencer has spent his career playing in the shadow of Demarcus Ware.
Cowgirl’s Cowboy’s salary cap situation and Spencer’s wanting to make a name for himself, it is not a stretch to imagine Spencer playing in the blue and white that he was meant for.
Questions? Comments? Criticize me please, I love it. Leave it in the comments section and we will discuss what the Colts should do!