Letters 2 TL: Ray Lewis is still the best?

Lombardi's Way Letters 2 TL: Ray Lewis is still the best?

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TL,
 
You are crazy in your mind if you put a rookie or a Ryans on the list. Urlacher got pushed up and down the grid iron by average centers when Tommie Harris got hurt.
 
There is not a better middle linebacker in the NFL. You can only compare his impact to a different position to find a rival. His job is to stop the RB, cover the middle, and direct the traffic. Who did that better than him last year? The Vikings maybe, but they had a worse pass defense than we did.
 
Jeremiah W
 
 
JW,

You have to remember that the tag takes into consideration the top 5 at Ray’s position of linebacker, not just MLB.  With that in mind, tell me among the following who Ray is better than at THIS POINT IN HIS CAREER remembering that in the NFL you HAVE to pay someone for what you think they WILL do and not what they have done:

Shawne Merriman, DeMarcus Ware, Keith Bulluck, Julian Peterson, Mike Peterson, Lance Briggs, even Patrick Willis and yes Jeremiah…DeMeco Ryans are all better than Ray NOW particularly on a neutral team.

Good point on Urlacher but you must admit, Ray whined like a baby pre-Haloti Ngata and like Urlacher he struggles mightily when fighting through blocks.

I like the debate though…

cheers,

TL

 
 
Jeremiah’s rebuttal…
 
Ray still struggled to win defensive MVP while in a 3-4 fighting through blocks.
 
Look at Ray in this game (videos 1 & 2 below) v. the 49ers. What can any MB in the NFL do that he can’t?
 
 
 
Just between the lines from a physical standpoint he has no equal, but when you factor in the mental edge he has and film study, it is not even close. You have to compare him pass v. rushing LBs to come close to his impact. When the Ravens blitz him, he is as effective as any of the OLB specialists at defeating the block and getting to the QB.
 
Elite MBs make about the same as OLBs because stopping the run is as important as stopping the pass.
 
The only game Ray was mostly healthy that a RB got 100 yards during the last 3 seasons was LJ, and he broke off half his yardage on one run. The rest of the day he got 2.2 -2.8 ypc like LT did.
 
Jeremiah W
 
JW,
 
Ray won that MVP (deservingly so) in 2003.  This is 2008, four seasons and 5 years later and it is unrealistic to think that he can ever approach that level again.  We are talking about a player with scarred shoulders and one who has played only one complete season since 2002. Unfortunately between the lines from a physical standpoint he has plenty of equals TODAY.  The others just don’t have his resume.
 
Obviously you are a big fan of Ray’s.  But to say that he can rush the quarterback as well as any OLB pass rush specialist is a huge stretch!  I have seen him far too many times during recent years blitz and then stand there looking at the quarterback possibly hoping to bat down a pass.  Each time he does that, it seems to me that the opponent is playing against 10 defenders and not 11.  More times than not, blitzing Ray was a waste.  Don’t be surprised to see him off the field in 2008 in third and long situations. 
 
All that said, I’d love for Ray to force me to eat all of these words.  I just don’t see it and hopefully Steve Bisciotti doesn’t either.  Ray should not get another big fat contract.
 
Peace,
 
TL
 
p.s. I enjoyed the videos above but there was nothing there about Ray Lewis that inspired me like the flea on the Verizon FIOS commercial.
 
 
 
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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