So Ive been to collect one team playbook and tell Phins TE Michael Egnew that he needs to see the head coach. The second playbook I might be asked to collect belongs to:
Philip Wheeler, 52, LB
Is this a case of one year wonder? Mr Wheeler was drafted in the third round by the Colts and looking at the Profootballfocus and NFL stats page he’s always been a functional but not great OLB in a 4-3 scheme (this means there are 4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers on the field).
Jeff Ireland probably did the same investigation and had scouts breakdown his film and they saw the progression as a football player. His tackles increased year on year, from 14 as a rookie in 2008 to 109 in Oakland in 2012. I also checked out Profootballfocus ranking for 4-3 OLB for players who have been on the field for over 25% of their teams snaps and again it shows progress so it would suggest this was a solid signing:
So where did it go wrong? Every where by the looks of it. In 2013 Mr Wheeler dropped like a rock to 35 and wasn’t the best OLB on his own team. I’ve dug into the stats provided by profootballfocus and last season he had a number of poor games and below Ive looked at his worst games last season:
|Falcons||Poor in run and pass coverage|
|Saints||Poor in pass coverage|
|Bucs||Poor against the run|
|Steelers||Inffective as a pass rusher and in pass coverage|
|Bills||Poor against the run|
These are all fundamental skills that a NFL linebacker should be able to carry out and what really concerns me is that all the core skills are there. In todays NFL, linebackers have to be able to play run and pass and if they can rush the pass as well, then well its happy days!
Last year it only happened in three games for Mr Wheeler, against the Colts he created pressure when rushing the QB, against the Ravens he did every thing well (why isn’t he doing this every week?) and was good in pass coverage against the Panthers.
The Phins have invested heavily now in players who could play OLB, Danielle Ellerbe and possibly Dion Jordan. On top of this drafting Jordan Tripp means we are really looking at our options. GM Dennis Hickey isn’t tied to Mr Wheeler and is probably looking at the $13 million in guaranteed and looking at his contract to see how much of it is back loaded.
If any of our other options look like working out Mr Wheeler might be looking for work with another NFL team.