Everyone loves a Monday Morning Quarterback, so why not a Monday Morning Linebacker? If you’re like me, you tend to express your consternation when a player or players on your roster don’t exactly perform as expected. Many expletive laden tirades have been directed at my computer or smart-phone as I scan the scoreboards. Occasionally I’m pleasantly surprised, but more often than not it’s “WTF just happened?!” In this weekly article we’ll take a look at those players that performed as expected and those that didn’t. This won’t be a complete review of every player from every game; simply the outliers that deserve recognition, one way or the other.
Studs That Were Studs
Notable players that lived up to or exceeded expectations
Daryl Washington, LB, ARZ vs. NE
– In an upset special, Washington was all that was billed and more. 11 solo tackles, 2 assists and 1 pass defensed reaffirms why we’ve had him ranked as a Top-5 LB throughout the offseason and for Week 2. In a game in which Arizona never trailed, this actually comes as somewhat of a surprise, but Washington was consistently productive throughout the game, including the 4th quarter when the Pats were desperately playing catch up. Start him with confidence every week regardless of the matchup.
Clay Matthews, LB, GBP vs. CHI – Studly, that’s all I can say. 4 solos, 3 assists, a pass defensed and 3 1/2 sacks against Jay Cutler and the woeful Bears. Matthews is a MONSTER in big play leagues and pretty darn good in balanced scoring leagues as well. He now has 6 sacks and 10 total tackles in 2 games. Don’t expect every week to be like the last two; he’ll have his ups and downs. But his potential is too great to have him on the bench.
Calais Campbell, DE, ARZ vs. NE – Back at the upset special, Tom Brady is still being sacked. After being virtually invisible in Week 1, Campbell exploded for 7 solos, 3 assists and 2 sacks in Week 2. He’s a quarter of the way to his sack total (8) of 2011. It helped that Arizona was playing with a lead, giving Campbell ample opportunity to get after the quarterback. My ranking of him this week was upended by this performance, but don’t get overly excited. He’ll mix some great games in with some stinkers, so play the weekly matchups.
D’Qwell Jackson, LB, CLE vs. CIN – In tackle heavy leagues, DQ’s 3 solos and 2 assists were ok, but in balanced and big-play leagues is 3 sacks and an interception blew the doors off any predictions for his Week 2 matchup. That’s 2 weeks in a row DQ has picked off a pass. His tackle numbers have been a tad low, especially considering the number of running plays he’s seen, but he more than makes up for it with his big play ability. He’s obviously an every week starter regardless of the matchup.
DeMeco Ryans, LB, PHI vs. BAL – Despite the early rumblings that DeMeco Ryans would only be a 2-down player in Philly’s 4-3 defense, he’s played every defensive snap and has awarded his fantasy owners nicely. 6 solos, an assist, a pass defensed and a sack rounded out a great IDP day for DeMeco. He penetrated the line, was fast to get to the ball carrier and was regularly around the action making plays. He’s quickly moving up the LB rankings and is a solid LB2 week in and week out.
Studs That Were Duds
Notable players that didn’t even come close to expectations
Brian Cushing, LB, HOU vs. JAX – Ok, so his opportunities were extremely limited as the Jags only ran the ball 12 times in this game, but 2 solo tackles is not what we’ve come to expect from Cushing; particularly not after his stellar Week 1 performance. But as the Texans nursed a sizeable lead most of the day, Cushing didn’t get many tackle opportunities and did not get to the QB when he rushed. Expect more up days than down for Cushing, but play the matchups and consider him a LB2 that could perform like a LB1 or a LB3-4.
Cameron Wake, DE, MIA vs. OAK – If you read my preseason stuff you know I’ve not been terribly excited about Wake’s 2012 prospects. I like the move to the 4-3, but worry about the Dolphins on the whole. But on a day when they got a big lead and didn’t look back, I struggle to comprehend Wake’s 1 solo tackle and nothing more. The Raiders had just 12 rushing attempts, but as an outside pass rusher Wake’s Week 2 numbers are dreadful (last week wasn’t all that great either). Until he starts consistently producing, I’d consider him nothing more than a LB4 or bye week filler.
Jason Babin, DE, PHI vs. BAL – I guess Andy Reid wasn’t kidding when he spoke of a rotation along the Eagles defensive line. Despite 21 rush attempts, Babin mustered just 1 solo tackle in Week 2, failing for the second week in a row to record a sack. Line-mate Trent Cole wasn’t much better (though he did have a sack) and this rotation to keep everyone fresh appears it may limit everyone’s IDP potential along the line. Depending on your options, consider Babin a DL3 moving forward, but you may see more days like this ahead.
Rolando McClain, LB, OAK vs. MIA – This one I don’t get. 40 rushing attempts by the Dolphins and the Raiders middle linebacker manages just 2 solo tackles, doesn’t disrupt a pass or get his hands on the QB. McClain has been a disappointment in his young career and from an IDP perspective should be viewed as nothing more than a LB3 who will outperform and underperform that ranking with little predictability.
Brandon Flowers, CB, KCC vs. BUF – My excitement to see him return to the lineup after being a disappointing scratch last week was quickly quelled by his 1 solo tackle performance. The Bills jumped out to an early lead in this one and didn’t have to throw much, particularly in the 2nd half, but Flowers also failed to have an impact in run support. He’ll have much better games than this one, so continue starting him as a CB2 with confidence (until he proves otherwise).