By: Russ Goldman
What I have found interesting is the lack of respect that Tully Banta-Cain seems to have received. On several media outlets I keep hearing criticism of his play and that his statistics are misleading. I disagree with this line of thinking in regards to the Patriots outside linebacker.
Banta-Cain had a year last season that is similar to other outside linebackers that have played the position in the Belichick era. He had 10 sacks and 55 tackles in 16 games. The criticism he gets is that half of his sacks were against the Buffalo Bills. Well, he also had some sacks against teams with very good offensive lines. He had two sacks in two games against the New York Jets and also had a sack against the Denver Broncos.
Despite 10 Sacks last season Patriots Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain’s name isn’t being mentioned much so far through training camp (PHOTO CREDIT: Icon/SMI)
To diminish his accomplishments last season is unfair. He played in every game last season. He was a constant presence at outside linebacker for the Patriots in 2009. I don’t like to go just by statistics. I like to actually watch the game and let my eyes help me with my thoughts on a player. What I saw from Banta-Cain last season was a player that was in the opponents backfield and making plays.
Now if you are someone that judges by statistics that is fine. I will give you statistics from former Patriot Outside linebackers to give you a comparison.
Willie McGinest was considered a very good outside linebacker in his time with the Patriots. Well, Willie’s best season for sacks was in 1995 when he had 11. In the Super Bowl years of 2003 and 2004, McGinest had very good seasons. In 2003, he had 5.5 sacks and 67 tackles. In 2004, he had 9.5 sacks and 51 tackles. Banta-Cain’s numbers are in line with these stats.
Roosevelt Colvin prior to coming to the Patriots was considered a force with the Chicago Bears. His production with the Bears got him a big contract with the Patriots as a free agent in 2003. His numbers must be much higher than Banta-Cain’s statistics? In 2001, Colvin had 10.5 sacks and 69 tackles. in 2002, he had 10.5 sacks and 64 tackles. Again, Banta-Cain’s’ numbers are similar.
How about Mike Vrabel who I think was a fantastic outside linebacker for the New England Patriots? In 2007, Vrabel had 12.5 sacks and 77 tackles. That was a real good season. How was Vrabel in 2008 with the Patriots? He had 4 sacks with 62 tackles. How was Vrabel’s season last year with the Kansas City Chiefs? He must have had bigger numbers than Banta-Cain? Vrabel had 2 sacks with 52 tackles last season.
Banta-Cain’s season last year is in line with three very accomplished former Patriots outside linebackers statistics. On stats alone he deserves more respect. But like I mentioned, I am not just about statistics. I am about what my eyes tell me. They showed me last season that Banta-Cain did his job well for the New England Patriots.
As I was thinking about writing this post I saw a great article by Shalize Manza Young in Sunday’s Boston Globe. The article is entitled” Banta – Cain embraces role”. In this story Shalize discusses how Banta-Cain gets overlooked considering he is just the third Patriots player since Andre Tippett to have 10 sacks in a season.
Manza Young’s story really focuses on Banta-Cain’s leadership and what he could bring to the Patriots this upcoming season. She has a quote from Coach Belichick that I would like to share regarding Banta-Cain. Below are quotes from the Shalize Manza Young story from Bill Belichick.
“Tully has really picked up where he left off last year,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “He gained a lot of experience and he’s done a good job. He’s taken over a little bit of a leadership role as well, in terms of his experience, and I think he has a lot of confidence and that carries over to other guys.’’
So in concluding, as we go into the new season for the New England Patriots you might want to view differently Banta-Cain. I think he is much better than most media pundits believe. My eyes and his statistics back up my argument.