by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
There is a very good new blog for fans of the NFC East called Blogging the bEast. Jimmy just put up a post that really fascinated me. He compared the numbers of MLBs London Fletcher and Ray Lewis. They are remarkably similar. I don’t think anyone would dispute that Ray is the better player, but London is woefully underrated.
London Fletcher’s resume:
* Never missed a game.
* Started in 2 Super Bowls, won with the Rams in 1999.
* Led Rams to 2 seasons where defense finished in both Top 10 in fewest points, yards allowed.
* Led Bills to 2 seasons where defense finished in both Top 10 in fewest points, yards allowed.
* Led Skins to 2 seasons where defense finished in both Top 11 in fewest points, yards allowed.
* Check out Jimmy’s post for all the stats. London has put up some great numbers.
The fact that London Fletcher has only made the Pro Bowl twice tells you all that you need to know about the insanity of the Pro Bowl. Fletcher is an afterthought compared to Brian Urlacher, but I’d take Fletcher in a heartbeat. Urlacher can make some highlight plays, but Chicago has had more mediocre defenses than good ones in his tenure.
Fletcher has played for different teams, coaches, and in a variety of schemes. He’s performed at a high level no matter what. His durability is frightening. I don’t know how a smaller MLB like him is able to be so physical and remain on the field.
I generally think anecdotal evidence is sketchy, but there was an Eagles/Skins game a few years back that really made me appreciate just how good London Fletcher was. On a play early in the game Eagles Center Jamaal Jackson (6’4, 330) got pushed aside by Fletcher on a run play. That showed great strength, power. Later on the Eagles ran a wheel route with Brian Westbrook. Fletcher had him blanketed along the sideline and this was 20-30 yards down the field. How are you supposed to deal with a MLB that can toss your giant C around and then cover your elite pass-catching RB on a downfield route?
London Fletcher won’t make the Hall of Fame, but he’s one of the few players I’d genuinely like to meet. To me, he is the consummate pro middle linebacker. He can play in any system. He is a leader on any team he’s playing for. He doesn’t try to be flashy. Fletcher knows his job is to control the middle of the field. He does that very well. He doesn’t sell out to land SportsCenter hits, but Fletcher is a punishing hitter within the context of being a good LB. Coaches have to love this guy.
Ray Lewis is one of the all-time greats. Fletcher isn’t on that level, but I do think more people should appreciate just what a good player he is. Age is starting to catch up with him a bit so we’ve only got a couple more years to enjoy seeing him play.