With a stat line of nine solo tackles including two for a loss, most observers can be forgiven for concluding that Buffalo Bills linebacker Preston Brown had a solid game this week against the New England Patriots. In his weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, Peter King of Sports Illustrated went a little further.
“Every time I watch the Bills, I’m more impressed with middle linebacker Preston Brown. He is a great sideline-to-sideline player.”
Put on the recent Patriots game tape and you see a linebacker that’s not fast enough even for Trail-Man coverage on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. In the run game, you see a player not athletic or instinctual enough to cover up for the mistakes of the defensive linemen in front of him. Many of his team-leading fourteen tackles were of the “down-the-field” variety after the ball carrier had already gained a fair chunk of yardage.
Pro Football Focus would also strongly object to King’s characterization of Brown’s play, as the analysis website has the fourth-year player tied for 57th overall among linebackers. Surprisingly, his pass defense ranks 35th, which is essentially average, while his run defense ranks 68th, well below-average. For a player expecting to be signed to a lucrative long-term contract this offseason, these rankings indicate that he might be better off taking a one-year contract and hoping that he can be more effective as part of a different team.