Cleveland Browns new linebacker Jacob Phillips led the SEC in tackles, which is not easy to do on a team where the defense is usually not on the field.
Cleveland Browns fans may warm up to Jacob Phillips, who led the entire freaking Southeastern Conference in tackles with 113, as he seeks to replace ace linebacker Joe Schobert, who is now a Jacksonville Jaguar.
Replacing a fan favorite like Schobert is not easy. If fans resent that Schobert was let go, they have a right to be upset. He was an all-out, 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time ballplayer.
Schobert led the Browns and was 10th in the NFL with a whopping 133 tackles. Hopefully, Browns fans will realize that it is not the rookie’s fault that Schobert was let go. Phillips may never make the Pro Bowl and lead the team in tackles like Schobert did. But he could be a pretty good baller.
Phillips has some credentials of his own. Leading the SEC in tackles is all the more impressive because he did it on a very talented defense.
Good defenses do not take as many snaps as bad ones so there are fewer opportunities to make tackles. Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers offense were ball hogs, compiling drive after drive and allowing the LSU defense to rest, whether they wanted to or not.
There are no tackles on plays that end in incomplete passes, and the Tigers held opponents to only 50.8 percent completion percentage.
On a bad team, a good linebacker accumulates tackles on plays that were missed up front, and where other linebackers have been taken out of the play. To put it bluntly, linebackers get extra opportunities to make tackles if their teammates under-perform.
That was not the case for LSU last year. LSU had the third-best rushing defense in the SEC last year, and In addition, fellow linebackers K’Lavon Chaisson and Patrick Queen were NFL first-round draft picks. Put it this way, Phillips did not get any freebies from Chaisson or Queen.
Generally, offensive stats are inflated on strong offenses, but defensive stats are dragged down a little bit on good defenses.
Pro Football Focus claims that Phillips rarely missed on tackles.
We also know that Phillips is tall at 6-foot-4, not quite as heavy as Schobert (233 lbs versus 245 lbs) and a tick faster in the 40-yard dash at 4.66 seconds (4.76 seconds for Schobert, a full tick higher).
He could possibly enter a rotation at linebacker in which he would play on early downs and short yardage, and they might shift to the nickel on passing downs.