This week on Bussin’ With the Boys, Will Compton sat down with two of the Titans young and hungry linebackers, Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown. For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of how the position is played, the podcast is nearly two hours of football porn. They broke down a ton of interesting things, from Evans’ wild recruiting that saw a home town Auburn boy end up at Alabama, to whether Jayon is more popular back in California than he is in Nashville.
But what struck me was their thoughts on other linebackers, in particular guys they think are underrated. And whenever you bring up underrated linebackers? You have to start with Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David.
Rashaan Evans summed up pretty much everyone’s attitude toward Lavonte, Will Compton’s former Nebraska teammate: “Your boy from Tampa, they don’t talk about that dude a lot. Lavonte is so underrated. I cannot believe the league would sleep on somebody like that. I train with him. Dude has so much knowledge about the game! He gets slept on every time!”
Will, of course, is always first to pump up his boy. “Lavonte got Pro Bowl one year and it was being an alternate,” Will said, shaking his head. “Not even getting in immediately. He’s been snubbed. To me it’s biased. … Stats and watching this motherfucker play? He’s slept on.” Jayon Brown agreed. “It’s crazy how good he is,” he said.
It’s interesting how Will, Rashaan and Jayon evaluate what stats and abilities make an elite linebacker. Evans started the discussion by asking a very interesting question: what is more important, tackles or tackles for losses? Because a tackle for a loss is an offense stopper, while, as Rashaan noted, “You can get tackles 15 yards down the field.”
Along these lines, Will asked whether the boys would rather have a game with 8 tackles and 4 tackles for losses, or 13 tackles and no tackles for losses?
There are two ways to look at those stats, and not surprisingly, they were split. For Rashaan, “They’re going to look at that 13 [tackles] and say, oh my God, he went crazy. But if you don’t know the game? Tackles for losses? You’re eating. You’re going crazy. You’re disrupting the game. … Those tackles for losses? They weigh.” On the other hand, because 13 tackles shows you have been BUSY, Jayon Brown said, “I’ll take the 13 tackles.”
They then went on to compare two legends of the game, Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner, and which one you’d create a defense around.
No offense to Bobby Wagner, but they were effusive in their praise for Kuechly. Brown recalls watching film on Luke: “Remember we watched that clip? Luke is so smart. … Luke was in the low hole and left his man, went off the QB’s eyes and picked him off. He’s a monster. … He’s a Hall of Famer for sure.”
Rashaan agreed. “He got like a totally different understanding of the game,” he said. “I heard some shit, they said he didn’t have a TV in his crib his rookie year. Even after that. They said he did that for the majority of his career because he wanted to be that good.”
This episode was filmed prior to the start of the season and some players have stepped up in 2020 that may or may not surprise you. Of course, with the limelight on the Bucs, the world is beginning to get up to speed on how good Lavonte David truly is.
But another name that has somewhat surprisingly stood out this season is San Francisco 49er Fred Warner. Last week after Green Bay demolished the Niners, Aaron Rodgers gave Fred some extremely high praise.
Tony Romo, who worked the Patriots Niners broadcast the week prior, had the EXACT same assessment and broke down why he believes Warner is the best in the business.
PFF, not someone I always trust for my rankings, has him ranked in the top tier as well.
Currently, 9 weeks into the season, Warner has 47 solo tackles, 4 of which were for a loss. On a defense riddled with injuries, he has stepped up in ways that keep his team competitive when they have no business to be.
The entire Bussin episode is filled with inside knowledge around the game, the business of college recruitment and much much more. If you’re looking to get smarter, definitely give it a watch. Will also has a hilarious 10 minute Vrabel impression from rookie week that he showcases as well.
If you could build your defense around one linebacker in the game right now who would it be? Bobby Wagner? Lavonte David? Drop in the comments. No trolling.