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Indy
10-27-2006, 05:53 PM
It wasn't easy to rank the NFL's best linebacker corps. There are at least four teams that could make the case for best unit. The Chicago Bears have the best MLB in Brian Urlacher. The Baltimore Ravens have the most intense LB in Ray Lewis, and a young LB in Bart Scott who has developed into an excellent player. When its unit is intact, it would be tough to find a group as deep and talented as the San Diego Chargers.

But our choice for best unit is the Denver Broncos'.

NFL's best linebacking groups
Rank Team Comment
1. Broncos In MLB Al Wilson and OLBs D.J. Williams and Ian Gold, Denver possesses the best starting group in the NFL. What makes them so special? First and foremost, they are all so close. It is almost like they can read each others' minds on the field. Secondly, it is the fastest unit in the NFL. The Broncos might not have the fastest individual players, but there is no other unit that possesses great speed at all three LB spots.

They are all interchangeable, but each has his own special characteristics. Wilson is a solid take-on player at the point of attack. He plays with very good leverage and knows how to strike, shed and get to the ball. Williams is the youngest (24) and most explosive player of this group. Gold is the most versatile of the group. He is Denver's best cover LB and has the feel, quickness and instincts to align in the slot if need be.

The last thing that makes them so special is the versatility and matchup problems they create for an offense. These three players are athletic enough to be on the field in any offensive scenario, and that can give offensive coordinators fits when trying to come up with a game plan.
Best player: Wilson
2. Bears Not only does MLB Brian Urlacher bring exceptional talent and ability to this defense, but also great leadership. Urlacher gets his teammates lined up before the snap, then fired up after the snap when flying around making plays. In Urlacher's shadow is outstanding weakside linebacker Lance Briggs. Strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer does a good job in coverage and is solid versus the run. This trio does an excellent job making plays in coverage, pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run behind a tremendous defensive front.
Best player: Urlacher
3. Ravens The Ravens' starting linebackers are as good as any threesome in the league. Everyone knows about MLB Ray Lewis, who has shown minimal signs of slowing down. It could be argued that Baltimore's outside LBs are even better. WLB Bart Scott has emerged in a big way this season. He is very active and makes a ton of plays. SLB Adalius Thomas is rare in that he can play defensive end, linebacker or even safety. These three are fast and very aggressive. The depth behind the starters is suspect.
Best player: Lewis
4. Chargers When healthy and together, this units possesses an excellent combination of size, speed and toughness. The nature of the 3-4 defense is pressure from the OLBs, and Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips are excellent in this area. ILBs Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey are the veterans of the unit and they complement each other well in the run game. When this unit is intact, a case can be made for it being the best overall LB corps in the NFL.
Best player: Merriman
5. Cowboys The Cowboys are one of only a handful of teams that play a three-down linemen, four-linebacker scheme, and they have two distinctive sets of requirements for their linebackers. The outside linebackers must have good quickness and speed, as well as good size because of their unique dual role. They must be able to hold up against the run and have the athleticism to drop into pass coverage against backs, tight ends and receivers. The inside linebackers have to be physical, with good size and strength, to be able to hold up at the point of attack against larger offensive guards in the run game.
Best player: ROLB Demarcus Ware
6. Steelers This is a good, but no longer great, starting foursome. Age has begun to take its toll and Joey Porter is among the more overhyped players in the league. That being said, the LBs the Steelers have are excellent fits in their scheme, they know where to be and how to make plays and are a strong, physical group. Pittsburgh has ignored linebackers in the draft the past several years and that could come back to haunt it eventually. OLB James Harrison is a very good backup, but other than him, depth is slim.
Best player: LILB James Farrior
7. Seahawks Seattle's corps is one of the most gifted and talented groups in the NFL. The Seahawks are anchored in the middle by linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who is able to scrape along the line of scrimmage and fill in run lanes with power and dominance. Second-year standout LB LeRoy Hill has excellent speed to cover the tight end and speed to cover sideline to sideline. Thanks to the offseason addition of All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson, the Seahawks are able to use an abundance of blitz packages and defensive schemes that have Peterson dropping in coverage and providing pass rush from various places.
Best player: Peterson
8. Patriots The Patriots have one of the most experienced linebacking corps in the NFL. This veteran group, led by Tedy Bruschi (33), Mike Vrabel (31), Junior Seau (37) and Rosevelt Colvin (29), has been very solid through six games. The key to its success is great instincts, work ethic and toughness. A big reason this group has played so well can be attributed to the defensive line. When the trench players perform well it has a ripple effect throughout the entire defense. There are no superstars in this group but Bruschi is the mainstay.
Best player: Bruschi
9. Falcons The Falcons are an attacking 4-3 defense that loves to hit gaps on the move and disrupt the flow of opponents' running games. Their linebackers are aggressive in the way they attack downhill and have the speed to extend and make plays out on the perimeter. This corps of linebackers is very talented and is led by WLB Keith Brooking. Brooking is a versatile player who makes plays all over the field, while MLB Ed Hartwell is an inside force who can anchor down versus the run. SLB Michael Boley is a developing player who has a tremendous upside to develop into a frontline player in the NFL.
Best player: Brooking
10. Jaguars When healthy, the Jaguars' linebackers are one of the more athletic groups in the league. They are missing their leading tackler Mike Peterson, who was having an All-Pro-type of season before suffering a season-ending pectoral muscle injury Oct. 8. The group as a whole is not very big, but there are big defensive linemen in front of it. These LBs like to flow and attack gaps as they see the ball carrier commit to a hole, and they all have the quickness and speed to meet the ball carrier in the hole. With their youth -- Clint Ingram (23), Daryl Smith (24), Nick Greisen (27) and Peterson (30) -- they should do nothing but get better.
Best player: Peterson

11. Dolphins (Zach Thomas)
12. Chiefs (Derrick Johnson)
13. Bills (Takeo Spikes)
14. Vikings (E.J. Henderson)
15. Raiders (Kirk Morrison)
16. Titans (Keith Bulluck)
17. Rams (Will Witherspoon)
18. Buccaneers (Derrick Brooks)
19. Eagles (Jeremiah Trotter)
20. Saints (Scott Fujita)
21. Colts (Cato June)
22. Giants (Antonio Pierce)
23. Panthers (Dan Morgan - IR)
24. Redskins (Marcus Washington)
25. Cardinals (Karlos Dansby)
26. Browns (Andra Davis)
27. Bengals (Brian Simmons)
28. Packers (Nick Barnett)
29. Jets (Jonathan Vilma)
30. Lions (Ernie Sims)
31. 49ers (Derek Smith)
32. Texans (DeMeco Ryans)

http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/news/story?id=2640375&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnfl %2finsider%2fnews%2fstory%3fid%3d2640375

I didn't think our linebacking core was THAT bad. Wong (I know he's just coming back from injury) and Ryans are solid starters, and I don't think Orr has played badly this season. I have to say I'm a little surprised.

Porky
10-27-2006, 05:58 PM
If not last, we are right up there. Or is it down there? Even with Ryans, this is a very poor group of LB. Of course, don't try to tell that to the 13-3 brigade. I think they have the Titans too high. They need to be about 10 spots lower. Bullock is a good one, but there others are nothing special at all. If I had to be pinned down, I would make the Texans 31st. I think they should be ahead of the 49ers.

Indy
10-27-2006, 06:02 PM
If not last, we are right up there. Or is it down there? Even with Ryans, this is a very poor group of LB. Of course, don't try to tell that to the 13-3 brigade. I think they have the Titans too high. They need to be about 10 spots lower. Bullock is a good one, but there others are nothing special at all. If I had to be pinned down, I would make the Texans 31st. I think they should be ahead of the 49ers.

That was actually my thought as well. I thought that the Texans should be ranked aboved the 49ers and the Lions. I don't think the LB core is great by any means, but I think Wong and Ryans are solid.

V Man
10-27-2006, 06:44 PM
Ryans has 53 tackles, while our other to starters have 47 tackles combined (Greenwood-35; Orr-12). That is terrible, that in 6 games two of your LB's average 6.5 tackles per game combined. 32nd seems about right to me

Bamaborn-Texasbred
10-27-2006, 06:57 PM
Ryans has 53 tackles, while our other to starters have 47 tackles combined (Greenwood-35; Orr-12). That is terrible, that in 6 games two of your LB's average 6.5 tackles per game combined. 32nd seems about right to me


I think other teams offensive coaches look at our defense and think they will just run everything right up the middle. Hence, Demeco is getting the lion's share of the tackles. Also, if you are someone that hasn't figured it out yet, Demeco is always around the ball. It doesn't matter where the play goes, he'll be in hot pursuit like Buford T. Justice.

rittenhouserobz
10-27-2006, 10:48 PM
Why would it matter if the texans were 30 or 32? In a nushelll our LB core stinks right now. They may improve when Wong returns. The question I would have though is this. Where does Ryans play when Wong is in the game?

michaelm
10-27-2006, 11:00 PM
I've been thinking...

well, to be honest, I've been drinking, and oh, by the way, thinking...

Based on how sorry our LB corp is (other than you-know-who), and also based on the fact that CC Brown looks like he's losing his job to Simmons, do you think there would ever be a situational use for CC as a LB?
He gives up about 35lbs to our next LB... he goes about 200, but he hits harder than most of our LBs, and he's better in run support than most of them too.
I do realize that it's hard to compare what he brings to run support vs. a LB, because of different responsibilities and what not... but do you think there could be a few times throughout a game that he could man a LB spot?

Ignorant question complete...

HJam72
10-28-2006, 07:48 AM
Only thing I have to say is that I've always thought Greenwood sucked, but with 12 tackles and bad pass coverage it looks like Orr is even worse. I always liked Wong in general, but he sucked as a MLB in the 3-4, not that that matters now.

TK_Gamer
10-28-2006, 07:59 AM
I wish we still had sharper. I also think peek is a LB not a DE, but then we would have 3 LB's with no coverage skills.

beerlover
10-28-2006, 08:26 AM
ya just never know whats gonna happen but I would imagine the Texans use at least one draft pick on a LB and tryout at least a couple free agents during the offseason.

If a player Kubiak & Smith love slips to them in the 3rd rd. for instance this is where they bite. Someone lacking measreables but is a football player hard to get off the field because he is so productive, a player like Oklahoma OLB Rufus Alexander- http://sooner.nmn.speedera.net/pics2/380/RI/RIDDPFSPEGQGXZP.20060613190226.jpg while I would like to see him face more passing attacks from what I've seen he is one of the better coverage LB's in College Football and would look excellent along side DeMeco Ryans over the next several years for the Texans @ OLB.

tsip
10-28-2006, 08:41 AM
12. Chiefs (Derrick Johnson)

Porky
10-28-2006, 10:09 AM
The problem with Orr is he is much better suited for a 3-4. With hard work, he made himself into a decent rush 3-4 lb last year. He had his best game last week, but he isn't good in coverage at all. I was never in favor of signing Greenwood for the kind of dough we gave him. To call him an average weakside OLB is a stretch. Wong might help some. He should take over for Orr, and help our very weak depth. Our lack of any quality depth also figures into the ratings I am sure.

DocBar
10-28-2006, 10:46 AM
The problem with Orr is he is much better suited for a 3-4. With hard work, he made himself into a decent rush 3-4 lb last year. He had his best game last week, but he isn't good in coverage at all. I was never in favor of signing Greenwood for the kind of dough we gave him. To call him an average weakside OLB is a stretch. Wong might help some. He should take over for Orr, and help our very weak depth. Our lack of any quality depth also figures into the ratings I am sure.

Orr and Peek seem to be high motor guys better suited for pass rushing than pass coverage. It's been hinted at that they aren't the most cerebral players on the roster. Add to that the fact that a QB sneak could pick up a 1st down on 3rd and 20 against our D, I think our ranking makes sense. JMHO

Indy
10-28-2006, 12:30 PM
So do we try and pick up a LB in Free Agency? There's quite a few good ones that are going to be avaliable this year. Namely June and Fletcher

threetoedpete
10-28-2006, 03:45 PM
12. Chiefs (Derrick Johnson)



Quit throwing salt on the wound. Got Spencer. That sugar was almost ok. We'll find out about TJ the rest of the year. See if our stud can rev it up the rest of the way.


I'm seeing what I'm seeing. The only question for me now is how long Kubes and Smith will take it. We'll see. The rookie lable will only spread so far over the blemishes. He's out of position.

rafterticket
10-28-2006, 04:07 PM
also based on the fact that CC Brown looks like he's losing his job to Simmons,

CC losing his job to Simmons might not be that bad a thing. Does anyone remember what a great job he was doing a couple of years ago before he was out with a concussion? If Simmons will hit and punsih the way he did a couple of years ago, this could be a great sign of our defense's resurgence.

But, to answer your question, no. Jason Simmons, based on his past performance of pursuit and hard hitting, would see the field as a linebacker before CC Brown. But neither ever will.

threetoedpete
10-28-2006, 04:15 PM
I'd just like a little more production out of the safty positons. That's all. Don't give a hoot who it is. If we missed on these two, go get two more next off season. I think they've had ample opportunity to show us what they've got. I'm not impressed so far. Just make plays, Baby !

Double Barrel
10-28-2006, 05:34 PM
It's a square peg in a round hole with some of our players we acquired for the 3-4. It doesn't surprise me that our LBs are ranked last. It'll take a couple of seasons to not only get the starters we need for a 4-3, but to add some depth to the roster. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a lot of these guys gone from the roster next year.

bigbrewster2000
10-29-2006, 07:38 AM
I wish we still had sharper. I also think peek is a LB not a DE, but then we would have 3 LB's with no coverage skills.

No you don't he is out of the league due to injury. But I do know where you are coming from. Our LB corp does suck pretty bad and it is in large part to Greenwood. No one can stand that guy. We will draft his replacement next year and all will be right in the LB world for the Texans:shades: