He’s smart, hard-nosed and he’s a reliable player in the toughest league in professional sports. Man, that sure sounds good doesn’t it? But everything that you just read is the exact truth about Saints linebacker Jo Lonn Dunbar.
In just a handful of years Jo Lonn has gone from being a special teams player to perhaps the future of the Saints linebackers unit. He is coming off his best season as a pro in which he started fifteen times for the Black and Gold. Dunbar was third on the Saints defense in tackles, posting 90 stops last season.
“I have a little nasty side to me out there on the field,” Dunbar told me during an interview.
Dunbar’s numbers were quite impressive, and his ability to fill in for Jonthan Vilma and make the defensive calls on the field also proved how valuable he has become to the New Orleans Saints defense.
“I think you have to do as much off the field to get ready and be as prepared as you possibly can for what needs to be done on the field,” said Dunbar.
In addition to having his best season to date during the Saints 2011 campaign, he was the Black and Gold’s best linebacker in 2011 and arguably the Saints best overall defensive player for the season as well.
Jo-Lonn elevated his game this past season with the Black and Gold and now he looks to be on the verge of getting some bigger pay checks.
Dunbar also had one quarterback sack, had seven passes defended, forced two fumbles, and recorded two tackles on special teams.
“I think has become a very good player that the Saints will retain. Jo-Lonn has proven himself and I think he will only get better,” said the "Cajun Cannon" Bobby Hebert.
Now as the evaluation process is underway for the Saints, I would expect that Dunbar is high on a list of things to be taken care of for the Saints front office.
Jo-Lonn was one of the most consistent players for the Saints team last season and he made big plays all season long. Against the Texans, Dunbar recorded ten tackles and defended two passes in the Saints' shoot-out win over Houston.
And Dunbar’s tackle of Tennessee QB Jake Locker helped the Saints keep their win streak alive and eventually land the #3 seed in the NFC playoffs this past season. Moving forward it’s hard for me to imagine not seeing Dunbar in a Black and Gold uniform.
Dunbar is very young, he has elevated his game, and it looks as if his best play is still in front of him. Could Jo-Lonn be the future leader of the Saints defense? I truly think that he is already a leader. With more experience and the arrival of new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Dunbar could become one of the better linebackers in the game today.