Saturday, July 28, 2012
Everyone’s Ready For Kuechly at MLB
...and I’m not. At this point, what I believe for this situation is that Jon Beason is in the middle, and that rookie Luke Kuechly is playing weakside LB. As of right now, the Observer depth chart and plenty of other ideas, opinions, and resources have Kuechly in his ‘rightful place’ inside. And I don’t see it.
For one, not the worst problem to have. Two players who can be above average in either capacity.
My want for Beason to remain inside comes from two parts – he’ll continue to make the defensive calls, and he’s better there. Kuechly could be better inside, it’s hard to say – but based on 2010, I don’t see Beason as good outside, not as rangy there; I’d rather, of the two, continue to let Beason be a thumper inside. Kuechly, the higher drafted athlete, is slightly better in coverage. Since Beason is giving the calls for the entire defense, and Kuechly’s the cover guy – add in Rivera’s statement that the pair are much better communicators than anyone on the 2011 squad – and that leaves Kuechly the freedom to help ID coverage issues and communicate with the backs. Coverage, and communication, were both major problems in 2011, where no linebacker’s QB rating in coverage was under 100.
Detractors – the ones who have logical reasons for Kuechly inside – do seem to assume that Kuechly will be better inside, and therefore that’s a primary concern. That a guy like that should be able to flow to the ball – have the whole field. Of course, our linebackers can pursue at any spot – it’s somewhat rare for a strongside linebacker to lead the team in tackles, for instance, but James Anderson reset the team tackle record last year from there. I don’t think Kuechly will be limited at WLB.
I could see an alternate suggestion – it’s been stated that Beason, returning from a catastrophic injury, would be better at WLB because he’ll be possibly less athletic; that doesn’t hold up in my book. While this isn’t the Tampa 2, and Beason isn’t Thomas Davis, the shielded WLB spot does still require an athlete. That’s the coverage LB spot, if any, in most defenses. It seems miscast for Beason, who is just fine in coverage, but where Kuechly could be somewhat special.
Disclaimer: in his rookie year, I felt Beason was a better fit outside. Smaller, faster guy with range who fit at weakside. When he inevitably did move inside, he was brilliant. In 2010, moving outside, he wasn’t. Maybe this ends up being over-reaction to having ended up wrong from his rookie season, but he just hasn’t been as impressive outside. I believe that Beason inside, Kuechly outside creates a potentially brilliant pairing; the opposite merely features a rookie.