Coming into this season, the biggest question marks for the defense were at defensive tackle and linebacker. At DT, the answer is pretty obvious - Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor are two quality starters, while the depth behind them is a bit iffy. But at least the starters can be relied on to be solid, if not All-Big Ten.
The same cannot be said for linebacker. More than halfway through the season, the starters are Cam Brown, Jan Johnson, and Koa Farmer. Brown is quick and tall, but seems to get lost in run coverage. Johnson is solid in the middle, but doesn’t have the athleticism needed to chase down ball carriers. And Farmer is routinely either out of position, or simply gets run around, standing flat-footed.
Then there are the backups. Micah Parsons is the most athletic of the bunch, but diagnosing the offense seems to elude him at times, and dropping into coverage has been hit or miss. Ellis Brooks does most things well, but not well enough to get a starting spot. And I couldn’t tell you the last time I heard Jarvis Miller’s name get called.
So unlike DT, there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut trio of starters. But it seems to me, at least, that the current starters aren’t quite getting the job done. So what do you think? Who should start at linebacker?
Personally, my starting trio at the moment would be Brown-Johnson-Parsons. Brown has flashed some really good LB skills, and is so tall that throwing his direction is a challenge. Johnson is very steady, routinely plugging the correct gap. And Parsons is hands down the most athletic player in the group - unlike some other players, if he gets beat, he will run down the ball carrier.
It seems to me that the existing group of starters just aren’t quite up to snuff, and a shake up is needed. What do you think, can the linebacker play improve, or are we stuck in mediocrity for the rest of the season?