2011 NFL Season: Why Dumervil and Ayers Will Be the Best LB Tandem in the League
With the Super Bowl behind us and all eyes turning towards the 2011 season, here are a few reasons why this writer believes that Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers could be set to have career years, become the best linebacking tandem in the NFL, and finally bring fear back to those who would challenge them.
By The Numbers
I know many of you out there have Elvis Dumervil returning to the defensive end position due to the imminent switch in defensive schemes we are about to witness. For those who don't know, it is almost a given that we will be switching from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 base defense or some hybrid there of. Also there has been uncertainty as to whether or not Robert Ayers is worth the price paid for him. Let's take a look at the numbers for both of these gentlemen.
Given that Robert Ayers is in his second season lets compare production between the two at that interval of their respective careers. In the 2010 season Ayers posted the following numbers:
G TOT SOLO AST PD SACK FF
11 39 32 7 1 1.5 1
By comparison here are Dumervil's numbers for his second season in the league.
G TOT SOLO AST PD SACK FF
16 39 34 5 4 12.5 4
Those numbers are almost mirror images of each other and if you'll notice Ayers played 5 less games. Dumervil had a higher sack total but that can be attributed to several things, most notably he was playing in an entirely different scheme under a different D-Coordinatior. Those aren't bad numbers for either gentleman considering the caliber of the players around them.
The Argument For Ayers
When the Denver Broncos selected Robert Ayers with the 18th overall selection in the 2009 draft, it is no secret they were expecting big things from the former Tennessee stand-out. When the level of expectation did not meet the level of output fans and coaches alike began to question if the 6 foot 272 pounder was going to cut it as a pro.
After the 2009 season came to a close Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan, much to the surprise of the fans, was let go. This opened the door for new D-Coordinator and former linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale to take control and attempt a resurrection of sorts
This left the Broncos faithful with hope that Ayers second season would yield better results under the tutelage of coach Martindale. Then the un-thinkable happened Elvis Dumervil the 2009 sack leader and star linebacker was placed on injured reserve after tearing a pectoral muscle after a one on one passing drill in Aug. 2010. This came just days after losing starting running back Knowshon Moreno to a hamstring injury. This was to become a trend for the Denver Broncos.
As expected this placed a huge amount of pressure on Ayers who among other things was still adjusting to the change in position from DE which he played in college to playing OLB in the pros. This also brought adjustment from the hybrid 3-4 of the 2009 campaign as it transitioned from the Shanahan era to the full 3-4 installed by head coach Josh Mcdaniels. Unfortunately, after blossoming as the leading pass rusher for Denver, Ayers too fell to injury in early October with a broken foot.
So, while the jury may still be out, as long as he and Dumervile come back in 2011 healthy I think all can agree, the future is very bright for this young man.
Elvis Will Return To The Building
During the 2010 season the loss of Elvis Dumervil was a definite factor in the decline of the Broncos defense. His high sack totals and constant pressure were items Denver was never able to replace. If the Broncos have any hope to repair a defense that found itself 32nd in the league the man nicknamed "Doom" by his fans needs another breakout year. It is possible, and here's why.
With his pectoral muscle repaired and a season to rest and rejuvenate, Elvis should come back focused and hungry, ready to prove he deserves to be considered among the NFL elite. However, he will not be forced to accomplish this task alone. With the consistent play of fellow LB's D.J. Williams and Wesley Woodyard, not to mention the addition of future stars Jason Hunter and Joe Mays, Dumervil along with Ayers should be free to harass all who would dare to drop back, or attempt to run to the outside.
This, of course is in the hopes that Elvis is allowed to remain at his LB position because as we all know he started as a DE in the Broncos previous go-round with the 4-3. This is not to say he failed at DE previously but at times due to his smaller size he struggled against the larger O-lineman he was usually lined up against.
New Head Coach John Fox as well as new D-Coordinatior Dennis Allen are both men highly respected around the league as having the ability to both recognize talent as well as get the best out of their players. I am here to tell you numbers don't lie and linebacker is where Elvis Dumervil belongs.
The Wrap Up
This year several things were proven without a doubt. The passing attack in Denver is top notch. Champ Bailey is every bit as good as he has ever been. Tim Tebow can take over a game with, if nothing else heart alone. And Denver better figure out how to play defense or they may be destined to become cellar dwellers for years to come.
But have hope Bronco fans a new day and a new season are on the horizon. We have a brave new staff. A bold new QB (assuming he starts). And two linebackers who will stop at nothing to ensure the defense not just survives but thrives in 2011.
What do you think? Leave a comment, you opinion, or prediction for things to come and I will attempt to answer, comment, or conjure an answer and as always,
thanks for reading....