There have been plenty of fans the past year and a half, that have been debating the merits of Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud. Ruud, 28, has amassed more tackles over a three year span then any other linebacker in Buccaneer history with 552 from 2007-09. But such phrases as drag down tackler, not a down hill thumper and doesn’t stack and shed have all been common place when describing Ruud’s abilities or inabilities in most cases. Other then watching coaches film or being in the huddle and understanding what Ruud’s responsibilities are on every play, there’s no way to unequivocally say without a reasonable doubt that Ruud’s play slipped last season.
Considering the team as a whole, on defense was abysmal and were gashed up the gut countless times. Who’s to say that it was solely Ruud’s fault he didn’t have more tackles for loss or splash plays?
Based on a metric devised by Brian Burke of AdvancedNFLStats.com which he tries to quantify a players “Tackle Factor” Ruud among all linebackers from both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes was tied for seventh with a tackle factor of 1.51.
The seven players ranked ahead of Ruud in Burke’s “Tackle Factor” metric were as follows:
Patrick Willis 1.82
Jon Beason 1.67
Thomas Davis 1.61
Brian Cushing 1.59
London Fletcher 1.58
D’ Qwell Jackson 1.53
Ray Lewis 1.53
Kirk Morrison 1.51
Barrett Ruud 1.51
David Harris 1.48
E.J Henderson 1.47
Demaco Ryans 1.46
Just too be in the same realm, as Patrick Willis whose arguably the best young middle linebacker in the game and Ray Lewis too which all young middle linebackers are judged is an accomplishment in and of it self.
But how much better will or can Ruud be in 2010 with both Geno Hayes and Quincy Black starting for there second season? Throw in the retooled interior defensive line and Ruud could actually ascend to even higher heights in the coming season. While no one will ever confuse Ruud for being a down hill thumper, he should at least be able to stack and shed a little better while making his way through the trash and play in the opponents backfield a little more to produce some splash plays.