Replacing Josh Allen is no easy task. Hard to believe, right?
After glossing over the outside linebackers’ development for most of the spring season, I opened Brad White’s media availability by asking him how his group is coming along.
White responded with a pause. “They’re coming.”
Since the departure of Allen and White’s promotion to defensive coordinator, he has yet to see other outside linebackers step up to fill the void.
“We’re clearly not where we need to be and we’ve got a lot of steps to take. That’s the bottom line. To play in the 3-4 defense, you’ve got to have dominant outside edge guys,” White said. “We need to find some guys that can step up, and right now that’s one of the positions we really need to grind hard. We’ve still got some practices to go, we’ve got all of fall camp but somebody’s got to emerge. Right now I wouldn’t say anybody’s emerged. We just gotta get better.”
Clearly, White is frustrated with the performance of his position group. Even though they are inexperienced, he expects more.
“We’re young out there. We don’t have a lot of experience other than Boog, so we’re green. It’s not to the standards we expect from the outside linebacker group right now. They know it. I’m not telling them anything they don’t know. They expect it. We’re not going to demand anything less. The bar’s been set. We either work to get over that bar or we’re going to find somebody that can. We’ll keep grinding and chopping wood and doing all of those people say we need to do, but I need somebody to step up and be the guy in that room. It hasn’t shown yet.”
Boogie Watson is the leading candidate to be ‘the guy’ in the outside linebackers room. Last year Watson had 24 tackles, five for loss and five sacks lining up opposite of Josh Allen at Sam linebacker. After Boogie, there’s not a whole lot of experience. The other Sam, Alex King, was an inside linebacker until this spring. A true freshman, Jared Casey, and Jordan Wright (3 tackles in 9 games played in 2018) are currently competing to fill in Josh Allen’s former Jack linebacker position.
“Coach White expects a lot of us. The defense expects a lot,”said Watson. “We just gotta get better. We’re young. It’s good that we have this spring to try to get everyone on board.”
They have some time, but if they don’t get with it, they’ll get lost.
“We’re in the business of winning ball games, so we’re going to find a guy,” said White. “I’m confident it’ll shake itself out come time. Until that time, I don’t know who it’s going to be.”