Not Only Is Ray Lewis Far From The Best Middle Linebacker of All Time, He Is The Most Overrated Defensive Player In NFL History

The Baltimore Ravens have won Superbowl 47 and did it with exactly the opposite style that the Ravens generally have been. They did it offensively. Joe Flacco played out of his mind and is now alongside Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to ever throw 11 TDs with 0 INTs. Joe Flacco played out of his mind all playoffs and is he getting credit? Kind of. He got the MVP trophy, but everyone keeps wanting to babble on about Ray Lewis this Ray Lewis that. I’m not doubting that Lewis brings an energy to his team, nor do I doubt his skill level or ability, but to say this guy is not just one of, but is THE best linebacker of all time is an absolute joke and travesty.

Like I stated, I do NOT doubt his energy, presence or ability, but I do doubt how much credit he is given for wins compared to the lack of blame he gets for losses. A quarterback gets a lot of blame/credit for wins/losses because they directly impact the football. Linebackers not nearly as much. Ray Lewis has been with Baltimore since 1996, so let’s do a little bit of math to see how many seasons he played out of his mind great.

Let’s take the 4 seasons he recorded over 160 total tackles. In those 4 seasons he also recorded 13 of his 31 career interceptions and 4 of his 19 forced fumbles. These seasons are 97-98, 99-00, 01-02 and 03-04 for your cross reference.

Now let’s subtract his injured reserve years where he played less than 10 games. The seasons of 02-03, 05-06 and the current 12-13 season all fall into this category.

So in his 17 year career we are taking out 3 seasons, so lets lower it to 14 year career and lets look at the rest of his career. I am unable to use 1997-2000 stats because the NFL’s own website seems to think that info is useless, but regardless if he is the greatest ever then cutting those few seasons shouldn’t hurt his stock right? I mean he does have 11 other seasons to prove it if we take out his injured seasons as well.

So let’s look at the stats here and we are not using 2002, 2005 and 2012 season due to injury as stated previously. (I feel like people will forget this part)

2001.

1. Ray Lewis- 162 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 12 defended passes, 3 INTs

2. Zach Thomas- 154 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 passes defended, 2 INTs

3. Ronald McKinnon- 145 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 passes defended, 1 INT

4. James Farrior- 142 tackles, 1 sack, 9 passes defended, 2 INTs

5. Marvin Jones- 135 tackles, 1 sack, 5 passes defended, 3 INTs

2003.

1. Jamie Sharper- 164 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

2. Donnie Edwards- 161 tackles, .5 sack, 8 passes defended, 2 INTs

3. Ray Lewis- 161 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 13 passes defended, 6 INTs

4. Zack Thomas- 152 tackles, 1 sack, 9 passes defended, 3 INTs

5. Michael Barrow- 148 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

2004.

1. Keith Bullock- 152 tackles, 5 sacks, 13 passes defended, 2 INTs

2. Donnie Edwards- 150 tackles, 1 sack, 13 passes defended, 5 INTs

3. Ray Lewis- 146 tackles, 1 sack, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

4. Zach Thomas- 145 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

5. London Fletcher- 142 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

2006.

1. Zach Thomas- 165 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 passes defended, 1 INT

2. DeMeco Ryans- 155 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6 passes defended, 1 INT

3. London Fletcher- 146 tackles, 2 sacks, 11passes defended, 4 INTs

4. Keith Bullock- 143 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 INT

5. Cato June- 142 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defended, 3 INTs

#33- Ray Lewis- 103 tackles, 5 sacks, 8 passes defended, 2 INTs

#33- Bart Scott- 103 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 9 passes defended, 2 INTs

2007.

1. Patrick Willis- 174 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INTs

2. DJ Williams- 141 tackles, 1 sack, 6 passes defended, 1 INT

3.Jon Beason- 140 tackles, 0 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 INT

4. Ernie Simms- 134 tackles, 1 sack, 3 passes defended, 1 INT

5. Nick Barnett- 131 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6 passes defended, 2 INTs

#12- Ray Lewis- 120 tackles, 2 sacks, 12 passes defended, 2 INTs

2008.

1. D’Qwell Jackson- 154 tackles, 2 sacks, 9 passes defended, 3 INTs

2. Patrick Willis- 141 tackles, 1 sack, 11 passes defended, 1 INT

3. Jon Beason- 138 tackles, 0 sacks, 11 passes defended3 INTs

4. Barret Rudd- 137 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 passes defended, 2 INTs

5. Kirk Morrison 135 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defended, 1 INT

#13- Ray Lewis- 117 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 12 passes defended, 3 INTs

2009.

1. Patrick Willis- 152 tackles, 4 sacks, 11 passes defended, 3 INTs

2. London Fletcher- 142 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 INT

3. Barret Rudd- 142 tackles, 0 sacks, 8 passes defended, 1 INT

4. Jon Beason- 3 sacks, 10 passes defended, 3 INTs

5. Ray Lewis- 134 tackles, 3 sacks, 7passes defended, 0 INT

2010.

1. Jerod Mayo- 175 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INT

2. Stephen Tulloch- 160 tackles, 1 sack, 7 passes defended, 1 INT

3. Paul Posluszny- 151 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 passes defended, 0 INT

4. Chad Greenway- 144 tackles, 1 sack, 0 passes defended, 0 INT

5. Ray Lewis- 139 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 passes defended, 2 INT

2011.

1. London Fletcher- 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 passes defended, 2 INTs

2. D’Qwell Jackson- 158 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 passes defended, 1 INT

3. Chad Greenway- 154 tackles, 2 sacks, 0passes defended, 0 INT

4. Pat Angerer- 148 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defended, 1 INT

5. Curtis Lofton- 147 tackles, 1 sack, 9 passes defended, 2 INT

#33- Ray Lewis- 95 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 passes defended, 1 INT

So Ray Lewis had 5 top 5’s since 2001 excluding his IR years. He was #1 only once and that was in 2001. He was consistently being trumped by the likes of Donnie Edwards and Zach Thomas, and if not trumped then at minimum equaled. Patrick Willis and London Fletcher constantly dogged him statistically and his personal numbers stagnated starting in 2004 and he was always held back never making it higher than #5 on the scale.

Now don’t get me wrong, he was a great linebacker and was always right there with the best, but he also had nearly the same stats as London Fletcher who if you remember, still plays for Washington. Patrick Willis can easily overtake his numbers as long as he stays healthy and Zach Thomas’s numbers are right there with Ray Lewis when it comes to averaging out.

The argument I hear often, which is used too much, is look at how many Pro-Bowl’s he has been elected to? Look at all those All-Pro selections!

Let’s look at that…

In 2006 he was elected to the Pro-Bowl despite not leading in a single category or even being in the top 25 of linebackers. To add even more, he wasn’t even better than fellow linebacker Bart Scott.

In 2007 he again was elected to the Pro-Bowl and led only in the passes defended category of the top linebackers. He was not in the top-10 and was over 50 tackles behind the leader Patrick Willis.

In 2008 Lewis made the Pro-Bowl and ALl-Pro team despite being ranked #13 and leading the top 5 linebackers by only half a sack and 1 pass defended. He was nearly 40 tackles behind leader D-Qwell Jackson.

In 2009 he again made the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro teams even though he led no categories and was behind both London Fletcher who has been around nearly as long as Lewis and Patrick Willis.

If we keep going we can see that Lewis again dropped off in production, but that is to be expected at some point, I understand that. Is he the BEST linebacker to ever play the game? No. You can argue he isn’t even the best linebacker of the 2000’s decade. Consistency does matter and Lewis was consistent. He was a force and a very solid linebacker. I do not doubt what he did for Baltimore and that he was a nucleus for this team since it’s inception, but to tell me this guy is better than Lawrence Taylor, a man beast from another realm, is both asinine and hilarious.

Ray Lewis has done a lot in his career. He led the charge for the Ravens first Superbowl victory, he headed one of the best defenses of the decade, he was an emotional leader. Was he the best ever? No, not by a long shot, and despite the want from the NFL, pundits, ESPN and Ravens fans, he never will be, because you have players today who are better, stronger, faster and will destroy  his single season stats as well as career stats.

Ray Lewis didn’t win a damn thing in Superbowl 47, Joe Flacco did and without Joe Flacco, this team is 8-8 and a sad Ray Lewis is retiring a month ago.

2 comments on “Not Only Is Ray Lewis Far From The Best Middle Linebacker of All Time, He Is The Most Overrated Defensive Player In NFL History

  1. I completely agree. The ONLY reason Ray Lewis gets so much attention is due to his ridiculous antics.

    Furthermore, he is credited with tackles he clearly didn’t make! That’s the worst part about his numbers! Chad Brown is correct in what he said about Lewis.

    Ray Lewis is indeed highly overrated.

  2. You just proved his longevity and the baltimore ravens dont make individual tackles the whole team brings you down so if you added tackle assists into the equation lewis is top 5 every year hes healthy and last lewis is a complete linebacker that always gave you more than just tackles ie..interceptions,sacks,fumbles and recoveries the numbers dont lie so stop hating on lewis and save it for Mark Sanchez.

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