With awful play at linebacker, the Lions should start Derrick Barnes
By Robert Jones
Only one middle-backer has played well so far
Sometimes the truth hurts and the truth is that the inside linebacker play is atrocious. Sure they are only running vanilla defenses in the preseason, but no matter what type of scheme a team runs, whether it’s completely simple or incredibly complex if a team can’t tackle, they can’t stop opponents.
The middle linebackers haven’t made a decent tackle in the first half of either exhibition game so far. Those extra yards are the difference between getting off the field or giving up first downs.
I won’t say that it is worse than the last three years, but it isn’t any better.
For the defense to make any measurable improvements this season, the Lions’ linebacker play up the middle will have to be much better.
So far this preseason only one interior linebacker has played well at all and that would be rookie fourth-round pick, Derrick Barnes, from Purdue.
Barnes has been good in pursuit, actually made plays in the backfield, and oh yeah, when he arrives he makes the tackle. Plain and simple, when Barnes has arrived at the ball-carrier that has been the end of the play. Period.
The former Boilermaker has also done well in coverage and came off the edge a few times producing pressure and even gathering a sack last week. Is Barnes perfect? No, but his level of play is at a completely different level than Jahlani Tavai or Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Regardless of whether he needs to improve, become more polished, or even just be more consistent, Barnes is the only middle-backer who has stood out in a positive way so far.
It would seem that Glenn is planning on rolling out Jamie Collins and Alex Anzalone to start in the middle on opening day. I would counter by saying this; they better be on a short leash. Because if they can’t get the job done then we better see Barnes in the lineup.
Derrick Barnes is an undersized linebacker that many think has a low ceiling, but he doesn’t seem to know it and his motor never stops running. If the middle continues to be gashed, then Barnes has to be given a chance. His play so far has earned it.