In my opinion, yes.
|Redskins||Ryan Kerrigan||London Fletcher||Rocky McIntosh||Brian Orakpo|
It all starts in the middle with London Fletcher. I’ve gushed about Fletcher since I launched this blog about 5 months ago, and my thoughts on him can be found here. He’s still an outstanding player that has shown no signs of slowing down, even at the age of 36. The difference between he and Ray Lewis, in my opinion, is marginal. Then of course there’s Brian Orakpo, who went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in the pros, notching 19.5 sacks, and is still getting better. This offseason, the Skins drafted Ryan Kerrigan, who very much looks like the real deal as a bona fida play-making up-and-coming star linebacker. And finally, really the only player in the group that I wouldn’t consider a “great” NFL starting MLB, would be Rocky McIntosh, although I’d probably at least consider him “above average.” Two games into the 2011 season, McIntosh has 15 tackles and a sack, despite the Redskins leading the league in time of possession.
Impressively, none of the Skins LBs come off the field on defense. Ever. Not in nickle, not in dime, not in goal line. They play every down.
There actually aren’t that many 3-4 defenses in the NFC. Some have an elite player here or there (think DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis, Clay Matthews, etc.), but none have the across-the-board talent that the Redskins do. In no particular order:
|Packers||Clay Matthews||AJ Hawk||Desmond Bishop||Erik Walden|
|Cowboys||Anthony Spencer||Sean Lee||Keith Brooking||DeMarcus Ware|
|49ers||Ahmad Brooks||Navorro Bowman||Patrick Willis||Parys Haralson|
|Cardinals||Clark Haggans||Daryl Washington||Stewart Bradley||Joey Porter|
While we’re at it, let’s look at the rest of the league. I think it’s pretty safe to say the Steelers have the best set of 3-4 linebackers in the league, and after that, at least in the AFC, the Ravens, Texans, Jets and Dolphins all have very good ones:
|Steelers||LaMarr Woodley||James Farrior||Lawrence Timmons||James Harrison|
|Ravens||Jarrett Johnson||Ray Lewis||Jameel McClain||Terrell Suggs|
|Texans||Connor Barwin||Brian Cushing||DeMeco Ryans||Mario Williams|
|Jets||Bryan Thomas||Bart Scott||David Harris||Calvin Pace|
|Dolphins||Koa Misi||Kevin Burnett||Karlos Dansby||Cameron Wake|
|Bills||Chris Kelsay||Andra Davis||Nick Barnett||Shawne Merriman|
|Chiefs||Justin Houston||Jovan Belcher||Derrick Johnson||Tamba Hali|
|Patriots||Dane Fletcher||Jerod Mayo||Brandon Spikes||Rob Ninkovich|
|Chargers||Shaun Phillips||Takeo Spikes||Donald Butler||Travis LaBoy|
Where would you rank the Skins? I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say the Skins have the 2nd best set of 3-4 linebackers in the NFL.