Are Rookie Middle Linebackers Becoming A Fad?

August 8th, 2011

Much hand-wringing has taken place over the fact Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik has deemed a college outside linebacker from the PAC-10 can be a viable starting middle linebacker in the NFL after only being a pro for a handful of days, and the start of the regular season a month away.

This scares the hell out of Joe, but this move could be a pattern.

Many Bucs fans were so angry over Team Glazer, through Dominik, for only throwing cash at a punter, that said fans’ dogs were afraid to walk into the same room as their master for fear of getting kicked in the ribs.

These same fans went delirious with rage watching the Eagles sign virtually every warm body (Vince Young?!) available in order to buy a Super Bowl. Why, these same Bucs fans lost their minds so completely, they actually had the nerve to suggest on live radio no less that the Bucs should go after Braylon Edwards if you can imagine such a thing?

But lost in the hysteria over the Eagles throwing money around like Joe after Courtney the Bartender has served him multiple adult beverages was that the Eagles too plan on starting a rookie middle linebacker who hails from the PAC-10 in their march to a purchased Super Bowl.

No less an authority than the Eagles’ own official site, so documents Chris McPherson of

Matthews, the younger brother of Packers beastly middle linebacker Clay Matthews, was drafted in the third round just like Bucs projected rookie starting middle linebacker Mason Foster, only Foster was selected ahead of Matthews.

Could this be a growing trend of starting rookie middle linebackers? It’s very curious to Joe that a team that tried to go all Danny Snyder this season has chosen to leave such an important position to a rookie.

27 Responses to “Are Rookie Middle Linebackers Becoming A Fad?”

  1. Chris FWC :) Says:

    Youth will make immature mistakes. That will be a part of the Bucs growing pains.

  2. Espo Says:

    Could this be a growing trend of starting rookie middle linebackers?


  3. Chris FWC :) Says:

    I agree Espo. I think its a huge gamble to start a rook at MLB. We got used to seeing our last MLB make tackles 7+ yards down the field. Now we might get used to seeing blown coverage. Inside the hash marks will be open down the filed if we plan on Tampa-2in’ the rook.

  4. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    Who in the world was calling for the Bucs to sign Vince Young? Sounds like a straw man to me

  5. Joe Says:

    Who in the world was calling for the Bucs to sign Vince Young? Sounds like a straw man to me

    Sometimes sarcasm doesn’t come through with the written word.

    Joe was actually mocking the Eagles for signing Vince Young. That’s drunken sailor/fantasy football mentality. “Vince Young” is more name than player.

  6. SteveK Says:

    Vince Young or Braylon…. Braylon had 1 good season in CLE, and he got rewarded with a 5 hour energy commercial. He should do a “ButterFinger” candy bar commerical, nuff said.

  7. Jrock Says:

    @Cream, I believe the comment was more of a “they took everything! (including the kitchen sink!?)” kind of deal

    I don’t see this being a trend.

  8. Espo Says:

    I was all in favor of turning the page. With either McKenzie or Foster, we’d have growing pains. In the end, we’ll be better. Right now I just hope I don’t end up slamming my hat down on the caveman looking guy who usually sits in front of me.

  9. Eric Says:

    Me thinks the Eagles will have a very good season.

    Not trying to “buy” a Super Bowl, just using available means to field the best team.

    I know its a incomprehensible concept in these parts……………………..

    But if Dom wants a rookie ML, it must be a great idea. (warning: written word sarcasm)

  10. Picked_Off Says:

    I see it as more of a the MLB doesn’t always have to be the defensive leader kind of thing anymore. In the old school view of my football fans, the MLB has be to cast in the mold of Ray Lewis or Dick Butkus. In today’s game, the an OLB or even a safety could line up the D.

    Think outside the box people. The game can progress… Let’s see what Foster can do. As long as he “makes mistakes at full speed,” I’m not going to be that angry.

  11. Dave Says:

    But if Dom wants a rookie ML, it must be a great idea. ……..

    Mr optimism strikes again.

    Didn’t you write the same thing about Freeman?

  12. BecklesHeartsRuud Says:

    This is definitely a growing trend. Not necessarily that teams will start rookies but that MLB in a 4-3 is becoming less a less important position than it has historically been. Its a pretty well known fact at this point that MLB in a 4-3 defense is becoming a sort of plug and play position. The weakside in today’s 4-3 is where you want your biggest playmaker. You can thank Derrick Brooks and the Tampa2 defense for that. Seriously. How many 4-3 middle linebackers have gone in the first round of the draft in the last couple of years? Rolando McClain and….. nobody? 4-3 teams are much more concerned with finding the next Derrick Brooks at weakside linebacker than they are with finding a star MLB. Hell Casey Matthews was a 4th round pick and is considered a more limited athlete than Mason Foster but the supposedly super bowl bound Eagles will start him in the middle.

    I’m not making this stuff up. Let Gil Brandt tell it to ya.

  13. Dave Says:


    I agree. Rather get the youngster in there now than try to replace Ruud next year when it was obvious they were going to replace him. Might as well get the ball rolling.

    I can live with some mental lapses. Pluggin a hole and actaully shaking a block now and then will make up for it.

    As far as leading the defense, that is something he can grow into. He has Barber, Talib, McCoy, Hayes, Black, Miller who know the defense and the alignments to help him.

  14. BecklesHeartsRuud Says:

    That being said this is the make or break year for Geno on the weakside. Mason Foster’s 4.68 40 time suggests he doesn’t really have the elite speed that is ideal to man the weakside , so I expect Foster to stay in the middle and the Bucs to draft a weakside backer in the first round or two if Geno doesn’t cut down on the missed tackles big time this year while upping the splash plays.

  15. K2theSoldier Says:

    Just a small fix, Clay is an outside LB, not MLB.

  16. Brandon Says:


    Here’s my question that just begs to be asked but nobody has asked it yet from the media. If one player from the defense can have the helmet headset on (typically the middle linebacker) and our MIKE will be off the field on passing downs, will we be giving the playcalling duties to another player this season? Considering Quincy and Geno will be our nickel LBs and most teams play nickel 33-50% of the time, we would be at a huge disadvantage if our MIKE left the field with his helmet headset on..

    so who wears the helmet headset this season?

  17. BigMacAttack Says:

    There is more than one helmet with a headset. I believe they are given 3, but don’t know all the gory details.

    The beauty of what the Eagles did this season is that they have an opportunity to sweep their division right into the playoffs……….. before they lose to the Packers in the first round…… a team that built through the Draft, like the Bucs.

  18. Eric Says:

    I gotta question.

    When Rah speaks to the helmet, does it go through an interpreter like at the UN?

  19. BigMacAttack Says:

    I think Dakota Watson or even Hayward may replace Geno Hayes if he doesn’t have a great start. I prefer seeing Geno on special teams, blocking punts.

  20. BecklesHeartsRuud Says:

    BigMac- Yup. You could be right there. Dekoda has the speed for the Will. Second fastest linebacker at the 2010 combine. And unlike he Geno he has prototype size and strength for the position too. The knock on Dekoda was that he never played up to his athletic talent at FSU. Maybe NFL coaching will get the most out of him. Regardless I definitely think it is the WILL thats on the hotseat this year with Q. Black being entrenched at SAM and new starter at Mike.

  21. BigMacAttack Says:

    Hayward is also a 4.5 guy with deceptive speed and all the needed strength. LB is not a weakness in my mind. It’s just getting the best guys on the field, and not necessarily the most popular.

  22. 1BUCFAN Says:

    Are you always a complete rectum or do you just portray one on this site? The way I was raised you tell a man your negative thoughts of him face to face. I will gladly meet with you and give you my opinion of you if you would like. However, if you feel so negatively of Raheem and his ability to communicate, have you ever made an attempt to voice your concerns directly to his face? I’ve had the opportunity to share a great deal of time with the man and find him very intelligent, humble and overwhelmingly friendly. I would not be afraid to wager that a face-to-face meeting of you and Raheem would probably result in you being a kiss-arse laughing and agreeing with every syllable that exits his mouth while you wait with baited breath for him to give you an autograph. Then you would run to the secret cover of your computer keys and bang out your next negative rant.

  23. BecklesHeartsRuud Says:

    Well here’s to that BigMac. Watson and Hayward both flashed with some splash plays in limited playing time last year. As far as I’m aware there ISN’T a competition being allowed for the WILL in training camp but maybe there should be? If Geno doesn’t have a VERY solid year then you’d have to believe that competition will be open by next year’s camp.

  24. BecklesHeartsRuud Says:

    Joe- You really should stop calling Foster an outside linebacker and saying that he is out of position. He played all three 4-3 linebacker spots in college at different times including, of course, the mike. Not only that but some scouts during the draft process had him listed as an INSIDE linebacker prospect and opinions were split on whether his natural position at the NFL level was on the outside or inside. But to paint him as being “out of position” as if the mike position is totally new to him is false.

  25. McBuc Says:

    I know he did not play the middle, but Brooks started as a rookie. I am not saying any of these guys are the next Brooks, but you never know.

  26. bucfanintally Says:

    Eric if you have so many issues with the way the bucs are run and how stupid management is why don’t you go and root for another team.

  27. Brandon Says:

    BigMacAttack Says:

    August 8th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
    There is more than one helmet with a headset. I believe they are given 3, but don’t know all the gory details.


    Perhaps there are 3 but NFL rules prohibit any of those helmets (designated with a green dot) from being on the field at the same time. I hardly think it would be practical for Foster to have the green dot and come off the field, have somebody throw Hayes or Black a green dotted helmet, etc.

    Joe-usually you don’t hesitate to answer questions, give opinions, etc… can you try to find out this answer?