2012 Saints: Shanle may not be in that number
In 2011, linebacker Scott Shanle played in every game for the Saints. He racked up 69 tackles (43 solo, 26 assisted), which was sadly good enough to be 5th best on the team. He also tallied one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and nine passes defended.
He also made quite a few mistakes in coverage and tackling. Shanle has never been outstanding in coverage, but could normally hold his own. That was not true this season.
He turns 33 years old in November and definitely shows signs of slowing down. According to "Pro Football Focus," Shanle ranked forty-second out of the forty-four 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL this past season. OUCH! The real sad part... that was an improvement from the 2010 season in which he was rated dead last.
For all the negative talk about him, though, no other player on the Saints roster has been able to take the job away from Shanle. He always finds a way to survive.
I do believe that will change this year though. It has to, or the defense is never going to move forward.
With new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on board, this feels like the year Shanle ends up on the chopping block.
Spags' defenses typically depend on good coverage from the linebackers against the pass and solid tackling against the run. Shanle has shown a decline in both of these areas.
Now, a better performance from the defensive line may help Shanle's game, but I believe that Spagnuolo may not be able to help this LB much. This coming season would be Shanle's 10th in the league, but he may be at the point where it's time to hang up the cleats.
(Photo by Chris Bennett)