Checkdowns: London Fletcher’s Last Stand (NYT)

December 28, 2013 Checkdowns

A special bonus article this week at the New York Times, as I took a look at the incredible career of London Fletcher. On Sunday, Fletcher, a Washington captain, will play in his 256th straight game, the third-longest streak in N.F.L. history for a player who was not a kicker, behind only Brett Favre’s 299 […]

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Robert Mathis has more sacks than all other Colts combined

November 8, 2013 Defensive Players

Good stat courtesy of Bill Barnwell this week: Robert Mathis has 11.5 sacks, while the rest of his Indianapolis teammates have just 10.5 sacks. Jerrell Freeman is second on the team with 3.5 sacks, Cory Redding has a pair of sacks, and no other Colt has more than one sack. That’s obviously very impressive: no […]

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Inside Linebacker Moldbreakers: London Fletcher and Patrick Willis

July 24, 2013 Defensive Players

Last year, I wrote about how rare and impressive it was to see Ray Lewis and London Fletcher still playing at high levels. Lewis did not have a great 2012 season, but managed to walk away from the game as a defending Super Bowl champ. Fletcher was even better, and was named a second-team All-Pro […]

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Great Linebackers Playing Together II

May 29, 2013 Defensive Players

Four years ago, I wrote version 1 of this article. With Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis retiring, I thought it would be fun to revisit the topic. This post is NOT a look at the greatest linebacker groups ever. Instead, this post seeks to identify teams that had a bunch of great linebackers playing together […]

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Adjusting team sack rates in the NFL for SOS

December 17, 2012 Defensive Players

I’ve got sacks on the mind today. A few hours ago, I looked at the single-season sack records by various players in both the 3-4 and 4-3. Today I also want to look at things from the team perspective. In 2012, which team is the best at getting to the quarterback? You might think that’s […]

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J.J. Watt breaks sack record — for 3-4 defensive linemen

December 16, 2012 Defensive Players

Houston’s J.J. Watt sacked Andrew Luck three times on Sunday, bringing his season sack total to 19.5. Entering 2012, Bruce Smith was the single-season record holder for sacks by a defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme with 19 in 1990. The sack has only been an official statistic since 1982, but since the 3-4 only […]

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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 14

December 11, 2012 Defensive Players

This week at the New York Times, I take a look at how three defensive stars from the 2011 Draft have dominated the league and helped make their teams Super Bowl contenders. The 2011 N.F.L. draft class was initially talked up for its star potential at quarterback: Cam Newton (the first overall pick), Jake Locker […]

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Schiano leading Bucs rush defense from worst to first

December 1, 2012 Coaches

Under Raheem Morris, the Tampa Bay rush defense was always… what is the polite way to put this… accommodating to opposing running backs. Over Morris’ three-year tenure, the Buccaneers joined the Bills as either 31st or 32nd in all three major rush defense categories: rushing yards allowed, rushing yards per carry allowed, and rushing touchdowns […]

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Checkdowns: Antonio Cromartie’s improved play since the Darrelle Revis injury

November 21, 2012 Checkdowns

An interesting story today on Antonio Cromartie, courtesy of Bob Glauber of Newsday. Cromartie says that after Revis was injured, the All-Pro cornerback told Cromartie that he needed to start taking his job more seriously and that it was time for him to reach his potential. Cromartie stated: “Hearing it from your peers, you take […]

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Ray Lewis and London Fletcher: incredible outliers or a signal of something more?

August 28, 2012 Defensive Players

In a year where offensive fireworks dominated the headlines, here’s a piece of trivia on the other side of the ball: 36-year-old London Fletcher led the league in tackles. Fletcher, like Ray Lewis, is past the point where he can be referred to by his name alone. Instead, both get the honorific “ageless” before their […]

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Random Perspective On: The 2012 Dallas Cowboys

July 10, 2012 Defensive Players

When thinking about the 2012 Cowboys, it’s easy to focus on Dallas’ star offensive players. Unfortunately, that overshadows the fact that we’re witnessing the prime of the career of what will end up being the best 3-4 outside linebacker in the history of pro football. There is nothing DeMarcus Ware could have done, or could […]

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