Colts linebacker Pat Angerer records one of his 65 league-leading tackles in 2011.
He's the best player you've never heard of before. The only thing scarier than his name is his play on the field. He is Pat Angerer.
Most people think of Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis or Clay Matthews as the best linebackers in the league. Many consider them to be the best defenders as well, due to their strong tackling abilities. Those guys are reliable tacklers who can be counted on to always make a form tackle.
Angerer has recorded 65 tackles this season, 16 more than second-place Sean Weatherspoon of the Atlanta Falcons. Surprisingly, Angerer's teammate, Kavell Conner, is tied for second place in tackles.
On top of all of this, Angerer is playing out of position. Angerer has started the last three games at middle linebacker, filling in for the injured Gary Brackett. Angerer is supposed to be playing outside linebacker, alongside Brackett.
Fortunately for the Colts, Angerer did play two seasons of middle linebacker at Iowa, where he was named a semifinalist for the Bednarik award. He's not uncomfortable at middle linebacker; it's just not the position he was expecting to play.
What makes Angerer's numbers more impressive is the fact that Angerer now has to call the plays since Brackett is out. Angerer essentially plays defensive captain now, not a role he was expecting to play in his second season in the NFL. He's become the leader of the defense. Not Dwight Freeney, not Robert Mathis. Pat Angerer is the leader.
If you watch the Colts play, it's impossible not to notice Pat Angerer. He's in on almost every tackle. He has to be to average 13 tackles per game.
Unlike many members of the Colts defense, Angerer doesn't miss tackles. He uses classic tackling form to wrap opponents up and drive them into the ground. It's the sure way to tackle, and Angerer has proved that it works.
But Angerer knows how to unleash the pain, too. If he can square up a runner, Angerer can deliver knockout blows to ball-carriers in the open field. Yes, he lives up to his name.
Despite the Colts' dim season, Angerer has been a bright spot. The team asked him to step up, and without a doubt he has done so. No one expected him to even be among the top five tacklers in the league. He's soared far above expectations and he's done it quietly.
The only thing he doesn't do quietly is his play on the field. That makes him the most underrated player in the NFL.