Foster Inside, Kuechly Outside

May 14th, 2012

One of the little-discussed byproducts of the Buccaneers’ draft was Mason Foster clearly being gifted the starting middle linebacker gig for 2012.

Lavonte David is too small to play middle linebacker, and rookie Najee Goode, a fifth-round pick, is here more to challenge Quincy Black and Dakoda Watson than Foster. So Foster, who led NFL rookies in tackles last season, is coming into his second consecutive season as the Bucs’ main man in the middle.

But it’s still a huge responsibility for Foster, who just turned 23. The Bucs are rolling out a brand new defense, and Foster has said he was too hesitant last year. Also, while Joe believes Raheem Morris’ defensive assessments carry little weight, Raheem often talked about cutting back the defensive playbook to let guys like Foster to play faster.

Interestingly, reports out of Carolina have the Panthers keeping Luke Kuechly at outside linebacker.

Sure, the Panthers have Jon Beason, but he’s coming back from an Achillies tear in September. Kuechly was a top pick, considered the best linebacker prospect in years and a surefire star-in-waiting at middle linebacker, yet the Panthers seem disinterested in having a rookie MLB despite Beason being a 2010 Pro Bowler at outside linebacker.

Joe’s no Panthers insider, but it’s telling that they won’t give Kuechly the keys to the MLB job.

There’s no reason to believe Foster can’t develop and thrive, but in Joe’s mind he’s got an uphill battle in 2012.

30 Responses to “Foster Inside, Kuechly Outside”

  1. Have A Nice Day Says:

    Even at 80% Beason is one of the best 4-3 LBs in the league at any position. Wherever he is on that defense will be where the best LB play comes from.

  2. Vaheena Says:

    The Bucs are still paper thin and inexperienced at linebacker, but it’s fun to pretend they’re not.

  3. SensibleBuc Says:

    Just tells you what they think about Kuelchy’s style of play i.e. he’s not a run stuffer. I like the Derrick Johnson comparison.

  4. princespanky Says:

    I think this is a case of the Panthers not rushing the development on Kuechly. Sounds like they want to coach him into his strengths as a drop linebacker…. which is what everybody knows he is amazing at and then just layer on his responsibilities.

    Let’s be honest, you don’t just replace guys like Beason. He is a leader and plays motivated no matter what the circumstance.

  5. Kelso Says:

    Damn, I was really looking forward to Blount trucking Kuechly up the gut repeatedly this season.

  6. espo Says:

    Don’t care how the putty cats run their team. I’ve got faith schiano knows what he’s doing.

  7. bucs55 Says:

    I love foster in the middle but I think as goode develops he will take over the middle and foster will go to Sam …goode is a tumper in the middle he has the size and weight to hit people in the middle

  8. Architek Says:

    I think Foster has what it takes to be successful. He can hit, run, and now he don’t have to hesitate. He should be fine.

  9. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    Foster was overwhelmed last year, and with good reason. This year, he’ll be trained properly.

  10. BraveBuc Says:

    I agree with pete. Last year was not his fault.

  11. musclehampster22 Says:

    Joe you yourself have said that you give Foster a “mulligan” for his rookie year because he had no offseason to get his feet wet, so let’s see what he can do in 2012 with a full offseason and a coaching staff who hopefully know what they’re doing before we get pessimistic.

  12. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    I think Schiano is going to be switching things up on a regular basis. It’s looking like he’ll run a gimmick-type 4-3 with a touch of 3-4 tossed in from time to time.

    Expect Foster, Black, Goode and maybe even a DE there from time to time.

  13. hamilton Says:

    kuechly is to weak to play mlb,he is just a over hope player.

  14. Lion Says:

    Foster will be fine. Key words of the article “Foster’ who just turned 23”. ‘Nuff said!!

  15. ksneil2000 Says:

    Beason was a MLB every year besides his rookie season, and last season. I even think he got shifted to the middle half way through his rookie year. Joe’s wrong on this one. Healthy, Beason is probably the 2nd best MLB in the game behind Patrick Willis, I doubt a rookie is going to be better than that.

    Here is Beason’s history, which shows he was at outside through much of 2010. Then he essentially missed all of 2011, blowing his Achilles in September. –Joe

  16. DieHard_Bob Says:

    There is still no substitution for live game experience in the NFL. If we can take one good thing from last year it’s that some of our rookies like Foster now have 16 games under their belts. I would like to think that after a full off season of time with the new position coaches that are supposed to be good teachers, Foster should improve this season, if only a small amount. The nice thing is that next year we will have a MLB with 32 games of experience and he will only be 25. If he stays healthy we may not have to worry about the MLB position for a long time.

  17. SteveK Says:

    Die Hard Bob,

    Our “Youngry” D players took 10 straight ass whoopings, don’t know how much of a benefit could possibly be yielded from that experience.

    I would not credit the last 10 games of 2011 as “valuable development” or “taking your lumps”. We flat out gave up, and we were completely outcoached.

    2011 was a joke.

  18. BigMacAttack Says:

    I hope that Goode is good enough to start as a LB. I t would be nice to see Goode at the Mike, Foster at Sam and David as the Will. I can see possibly Hayward at the Mike and moving Foster to Sam. I don’t believe Foster will be the MLB again this year, just a hunch.

  19. Brain Says:

    Kuechly has always been a better OLB than MLB prospect. I blame uninformed internet scouts for the mainstream idea that Kuechly is a MLB prospect.

  20. Kelso Says:

    @Brain – Foster was an outside linebacker too. We’re the one’s stuffing him into the wrong hole.

  21. Have A Nice Day Says:

    To end the confusion, in 2010 Beason played 576 snaps at OLB and 561 snaps at MLB.

  22. BigMacAttack Says:

    I would like to rephrase my last comment.

    I have no clue what I’m talking/guessing about.

    Much better. Thank you.

    I just wish things/NFL would get going. Really tired of waiting. Too bad Lightning missed the Playoffs. Need a goalie real real bad.

  23. Thomas2.2 Says:

    You guys who think foster is a mike don’t know football.

    Foster is a pursuit backer, like a Brooks, performing better in space. I realize that we drafted David to play will. Foster’s skills do not translate to the middle where there is traffic (guards and fullbacks etc) to navigate through.

    You waste Foster’s strengths by forcing him to wade through the wash.

    That is why you play him at Sam where he will lineup over the tight end but these days that is usually an athlete, not blocker, and often there is motion of the TE to the weak side.

    I do not know if Goode is ready to play the middle, I do know that Foster isn’t.

    Joe you are wrong to say that it is “clear” that the Mike job is “gifted” to Foster. At a minimum, there will be competition from Goode if not another FA.

    Sometimes the judgments made on this site are odd.

  24. Matt D Says:

    I normally just read the articles and some of the comments on this site. Good articles.

    I want to say to Thomas that I’m sure you know a lot about football, but is it really necessary to tell people they are wrong? Isn’t it more pleasant to others to say “I have a difference in opinion?”

    I personally like Watson. Anyone else think he could challenge Black for a spot? I agree with the fans on the site that think Foster will be a good linebacker. I’m interested in seeing the linebacker battle during the preseason. Go Bucs!

  25. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    On whether last year was a valueable learning experience, you would be surprised. Some of the wisest men in history have agreed that we learn more from screwing up than from getting thing right a lot. There are theorists who believe that if you do not make mistakes you become stagnant and cease to grow and improve.

    To apply that the the Bucs…consider the environment Brooks, Sapp and Lynch came into. Essentially, they played for a franchise that had quit. They exerienced a season or so of it and decide enough was enough. Together with Tony Dungy, they turned the franchise around.

    But would that have happened if the Bucs were winning 8 or 9 games a year? Or would that have beenacceptable to most of the players? Remember, before it turned around the Bucs had 22 losing seasons straight. What if most of those had been .500 seasons with a couple 9-7 seasons thrown in.

  26. Ladyz Says:

    Matt D, what a very nice way of saying “stop bitching and always being so negative.”. Well said!

  27. hamilton Says:

    foster is a mlb,let in be.

  28. BigMacAttack Says:

    Nice comment Matt D.

  29. eric Says:

    I think your a little off on your math Pete.

  30. Bobby Says:

    ”Sometimes the judgements made on this site are odd” Thomas…when you post I say that a lot….