Mike Vrabel may be the worst 3-4 SOLB in the league

The NT vs. SOLB draft debate got me wondering what the biggest hole in our defense is.

I wanted to see an apples-to-apples comparison of all the 3-4 SOLBs in the league. All the attention gets paid to the flashy WOLBs generating the sack numbers. In fact you'll see that the two 3-4 SOLBs who made the 2011 Pro Bowl did so because of their sack numbers not because of their all-around defensive play.

The results really surprised me...


3-4 SOLB

Team Games Started Tackles Solo Assists Sacks Passes Defended Interceptions
Matt Roth CLE 16 16 86 59 27 3.5 2 0
Jarret Johnson BAL 16 16 73 43 30 1.5 2 0
Anthony Spencer DAL 16 16 63 52 11 5 2 0
Rob Ninkovich NE 16 10 62 45 17 4 4 2
Jason Hunter DEN 16 12 61 50 11 3 2 1
Clay Matthews GB 15 15 60 54 6 13.5 4 1
Manny Lawson SF 16 16 59 48 11 2.5 6 1
Lorenzo Alexander WAS 16 12 57 32 25 1.5 2 0
Shaun Phillips* SD 16 16 55 47 8 11 7 1
LaMarr Woodley PIT 16 16 50 35 15 10 5 2
Mike Vrabel KC 16 16 48 30 18 0 1 0
Clark Haggans ARI 13 13 47 38 9 5 2 0
Koa Misi MIA 16 11 41 29 12 4.5 2 0
Bryan Thomas NYJ 16 12 39 31 8 6 1 0

*denote probowl 



Stats don't always tell the whole story. For instance I don't think Matt Roth is a top-flight SOLB, he just had a flukey year up in Cleveland. Nor do I think that sacks are the ultimate measuring stick of a 3-4 SOLB. I want my SOLB to be in strong run support (tackles) and provide a decent pass rush (sacks) as well be able to cover (passes defended) (INT).

However Mike Vrabel currently does none those things. I think we're being blinded by the fact that the man has a couple of Super Bowl rings and played for Steelers and Patriots. Despite all of this "coach on the field" jibber-jabber he's ranks near the bottom in every statistical category. Despite starting all 16 games Vrabel was the only starting SOLB in football to not generate a single sack. He was a great snag when we got him as a package deal with Cassel. He gave a young defense a voice and an emotional leader. He was a player who had been around a winning culture and fit the 3-4 scheme, at a time when the Chiefs didn't have very many of either. 

I thank Vrabel for his contributions to this team and wish him luck in the future. But we need to get this guy off the field, now. He's clearly out of gas. Rather than pursue the biggest body in the draft, I think we need to put a priority on this position and hold off on a 2-down nose tackle (we really do play a lot of nickel) until the third round when Kenrick Ellis or Jerrell Powe will be available.

Different schemes ask 3-4 SOLBs to do slightly different things so I'm not sure if Kerrigan or Ayers or anyone else is on the top of our draft board, but looking at this chart it's clear that we can't chance another year with a bad SOLB in our defense.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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