NFL Insiders: SAM Linebacker ImportantJune 19th, 2013
Earlier this week, Joe unexpectedly made waves on Twitter when he noted how crazy this notion is that SAM linebacker is unimportant in the Bucs defense. Joe was even blasted by a Belgium-based blogger for, in this person’s mind, typing heresy.
The notion that any defensive player is “unimportant” rankles Joe to his very core. It is so nuts, Joe can barely write a coherent response.
Now Joe knows the calculator crowd will state a SAM linebacker maybe plays half the time in many cases. True. So does that mean you roll out some slug to play? Of course not! That guy will get exposed each and every play he steps on the field.
Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan, co-hosts of “Movin’ the Chains,” heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio, discussed the Bucs on Monday and they are of the mind that the troika of Adam Hayward/Dekoda Watson/Jonathan Casillas is not starting caliber and Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik needs to go shopping this summer for both a solid SAM linebacker and a pass rusher.
Tim Ryan: To me with the Bucs, the question marks are about defense. They are about the linebackers and they are about that pass rush.
Pat Kirwan: Well, I don’t think these things are not solvable. I respect they will go to camp and try to work things out with the guys they have. But they have the cap space to go out and grab a couple of guys. To me [on the defensive line] it’s about John Abraham. Right now if they signed Abraham, we would be singing a different song. Just one guy who can rush the passer on third down. If you also want to tell me they also bring in a linebacker like Des Bishop if he passes the physical, then great.
They are not that far away from being in the thick of things. They need a pass rusher. They need a guy to replace Adam Hayward. I don’t want to hear Dekoda Watson’s name. They shored up the secondary. I think things there look pretty good. [Johnthan] Banks beats out Eric Wright, fine. If he doesn’t, I get it. There are guys right now on the street that aren’t so expensive they can’t find them. Maybe they are waiting to see how they look?
Just sign the two veterans, right now! Finish off the project you started.
Later, Kirwan even dropped the name of Nick Barnett, Buffalo’s 2012 leading tackler who the Bills let loose this spring, as a strong option for the Bucs at linebacker.
Joe knows this will tee off some. When the Bucs had an uncoached Quincy Black, an overwhelmed rookie in Mason Foster, and over-hyped Geno Hayes, they may have been the worst linebacker unit in football and Hayward couldn’t break the lineup. To Joe that says it all about Hayward’s ability. Joe has nothing against Hayward, other than going MMA on his position coach, Bryan Cox, on the sidelines last year. Joe’s a coaches’ kinda guy, and you simply don’t pull a stunt like that under any circumstances if you want to keep order on a team.
It was wrong then and it is wrong today.
And can we stop with this patently absurd notion that a SAM linebacker is unimportant? If this position was so unimportant and trivial, why not just play with 10 men and save a potential injury?
Both of those suggestions are equally moronic.
When 90 percent of the Tampa Bay area was trying to run Black out of town (Joe was in this group as well, but Joe’s eyes were opened when Black actually got coached up by Cox), Joe never once heard of people shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Eh, don’t worry about Black, he plays an unimportant position.”