With the parting of ways with James Farrior, inside linebacker becomes a position of keen interest.
Larry Foote is the obvious choice of the moment to step into the shoes of the departed Potsie. Larry is one of those guys you can’t dismiss because he’s a gamer, one who’s “game brains” or understanding of the game is superb. Potsie was the same way. Both Potsie and Larry instinctively knew and understood the subtleties of the game within the game and their Samurai “6th sense” was their hedge against losing a step as they aged.
In my most humble opinion, Footer was the right choice to keep. Five years the junior, Footer is more pass-coverage capable and still has the explosive bang needed on first and second downs to kill the monster while it’s small.
What you say? Look, in today’s NFL the offensive lineman are monsters, so much bigger than back in my day. But the inside linebackers are not much bigger than back then. So the disproportionate size growth of the hoggs has to be off-set in one of two ways. Either you can beat the man to the spot on the field ala Ray Lewis, who has been so very good at doing this, or you try to overpower the bigger man by taking him on at the point of attack in the flow of the play with superior studliness via quickness and speed. Something that diminishes with age.
Beating a man to the spot is the preferred way, because spending an afternoon catching cars on the parkway will eventually wear down the toughest linebacker. Stopping a car before it gets rolling is preferable to one already moving, catch my drift?
To do this consistently, one needs to have a keen understanding of the game, the ability to download crucial scouting report tendencies at key moments, sensational “see-do,” as in reaction time, see it-then do it, and then the good o’l tried and true 6th sense of the Samurai as i mentioned before.
The 6th sense of the Samurai is deveoped over years. Nothing mystical, it’s simply thousands of repetitions that encompass the powers of observation, combined with knowledge of the opponent/knowledge of self and trusting your gullet. Add all that together allows one to use that information to cut steps, reaction time etc. to make a play. Some guys are just more gifted at it than others.
The point is this, Potsie Farrior, who i was a big fan of, lost the crucial ability to “kill the monster while it was small” or beat the man to the spot. Larry Foote still has it. But Footer has another challenge. He sometimes guesses too much.
Footer trusts his instincts. Larry has been around the game long enough to understand calculated risks can either be a game-changer, or a game-loser. Troy Polamalu is a great example of a guy being able to take a calculated risk that can change the course of a game.
While Troy has that ability in the big picture which encompasses the entire playing field, Larry has it in the little picture of the inner machinations of the inside run game. But sometimes Larry will gamble a little too much.
Much of my observations were based on Larry’s first tour of duty before he left for Detroit, and in fairness to the man, Larry didn’t appear to me to gamble on the field quite as much as he used to while splitting duty with Potsie last year.
Hopefully he’s at the point of his career where his Samurai 6th sense and knowledge merge at an all-time high.
KIAI!!! (気合? Samurai War Shout)