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The Greatness of Bart Scott

The player that most divides New York Jets fans is Bart Scott. By some, he is the fearful leader of the defense whose impact stretches far beyond the stat sheet. For others, Scott is overpaid and doesn’t make enough impact plays.

The good folks over at Pro Football Focus studies the game tape of Bart Scott to settle the debate once and for all. The answer: Bart Scott is a bad, bad man.

There are 11 guys playing defense on any given play, and most of the time only one of them is making the tackle, but that doesn’t mean that the other ten were just riding shotgun. In fact, oftentimes players other than the tackler may have had a far bigger, more destructive impact on that play, but there’s no stat in place to track it and you may not even notice it when watching the play. You’ll see the runner cut inside, try to reverse field, and eventually get taken down, but you might not catch why he had to do that – because his lead blocker was just blown up by a defender and the entire play was dead in the water before it really got going.

Bart Scott is the master of those plays. His job is often not to tackle the ball-carrier. Instead, he is to attack the lead block, blow it up, and re-route the runner so that another player can make the tackle and add a mark to the stat-sheet. There isn’t a player in the league that attacks a lead block like Bart Scott. What sets him apart, though, is that his impact isn’t limited to just fullbacks and tight ends, as Scott will punish linemen as well, a job all too many linebackers either shirk, or simply can’t do.

Most linebackers will fill their assigned hole, take on a lead block, and look to shed the blocker to make the tackle as the runner comes past. Scott does it differently. He doesn’t just fill the hole and take on the blocker, he attacks the hole and looks to go through the blocker, then deal with the running back on their side of the line.

The point, of course, is that Scott does the work you don’t notice on the surface of games. He might not be making the tackles and showing up on the highlight reel, but that doesn’t mean he was anonymous in the game. Anyone suggesting he disappeared in the playoffs simply needs to take a closer look at what he did during those games, and ask the blockers that had to deal with him whether they felt he was a non-factor.

Statistics can help make things easier to understand, and help make an argument seem more convincing, but football remains blocking and tackling, not simply tackling. Don’t ignore a linebacker of Bart Scott’s caliber just because he’s not racking up eye-popping tackle numbers, because believe us, he’s destroying blockers on a regular basis.

Be sure to read the whole article to see in game examples of what Scott does and a critique of her playoff performance.

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