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Patrick Willis: Over hyped or Under appreciated

Originally posted by Young2Rice:
There are 31 other teams and every fan in the league that would love to have him.

Can't quite understand why a few niner fans don't get it. Dude is a top 10 players in the league as voted by his peers.

Agreed!! Can someone please name anyone better at the MLB position than Willis?
  • Wodwo
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 8,037
He came into the league as a rookie and played at an elite level. He has an extremely rare combination of top tier athleticism, fundamentals, toughness, work ethic, and instincts.

After all of that, he remained humble and continued to quietly work on the things that he could improve.

You specifically mention his fit in Fangio's scheme. Well, he was asked to drop back into coverage more last season than any season before. Before he pulled his hamstring he was top ten in the league in passes defensed. To put that into perspective, the only players anywhere near him in those rankings were defensive backs. Even after the injury, he finished the season with more passes defensed than any non-DB (according to NFL.com player stats page).

Hopefully that helps you understand why things seemed different last season.
PFF has Willis in the top three of all ILBs in coverage.
Originally posted by Furlow:
I appreciate the honest question and unlike everyone else, I will try to give an honest FOOTBALL answer. Willis is highly regarded because of his ability to do a variety of things very well. You're right, when we ran the 4-3 he was a beast on the stat sheet. That is how a 4-3 is designed. With Fangio's 3-4 scheme, the ILB's have to share the "glory." Willis probably will not ever lead the league in tackles, at least not while we run the 3-4. Couple that with the outstanding play of Bowman, and his stat sheet production has gone down even more. He's also not an amazing pass rusher, so his sack totals suffer, and he's only a marginal "ball hawk," so he doesn't get many INT's.

I know it may sound like I'm down on Willis, but I'm not. He is the most complete ILB ever. EVER. By far the most sure tackler in the league today, and maybe of all time. When do you ever see anyone break free from him? I can't think of one time. He takes on lead blocks and stuffs them immediately, creating space for Bowman to make a play. That aspect of his play cannot be understated... How many players can you think of that would have their role changed from being the featured player on defense (the MLB in a 4-3) to just a "piece" of a team defense?

The most underrated aspect of Willis' play though, is his pass coverage ability. In Fangio's scheme, he's asked to do this A LOT. And he's not asked to cover FB's or even RB's. No, he's covering TE's. And we all know that most TE's today are just WR's with a "TE" next to their name. His pass coverage is excellent. And when he's 30 yards down field, he's not going to get as many opportunities to make tackles and be on the stat sheet. TEAM PLAYER.

Obviously he is physically gifted, and his ability to go sideline to sideline is well documented. But his willingness to sacrifice his own personal glory for the good of the team, and his ability to excel at every aspect of what he's asked to do - is why he is so highly regarded.

When have we ran a 4-3 as our base in the past 8 years? I know it's kinda nit picky considering all it takes is a simple shift to turn one look into the other but i cant recall when we've had a 2 gap space eater lined up next to a 1 gap under tackle (i know that particular alignment gap assignment/responsibility isn't the only way to run a 4-3)
Originally posted by Wodwo:
He came into the league as a rookie and played at an elite level. He has an extremely rare combination of top tier athleticism, fundamentals, toughness, work ethic, and instincts.

After all of that, he remained humble and continued to quietly work on the things that he could improve.

You specifically mention his fit in Fangio's scheme. Well, he was asked to drop back into coverage more last season than any season before. Before he pulled his hamstring he was top ten in the league in passes defensed. To put that into perspective, the only players anywhere near him in those rankings were defensive backs. Even after the injury, he finished the season with more passes defensed than any non-DB (according to NFL.com player stats page).

Hopefully that helps you understand why things seemed different last season.

Now that's the type of meat I was looking for....
He consistently flies to the ball so fast, it's crazy, and because he is so quick, he will stop ball carriers from getting an additional yard or two that a lesser ILB would've yielded. Those extra yards might not seem like much, but in the run game, it's absolutely huge, a difference between a 5 yard decent run, and a 2-3 yard stuff. Not to mention, I have rarely ever seen him miss a tackle and give up many yards after contact. That's not to include the fact that he goes for the strip almost every time and is great in coverage for a LB.
overhyped??? hes the best ILB in the league!!! dudes been in the probowl every year and an all pro. the rest of the players and coaches get 2/3 of the vote in that so i would say he has the leagues respect
Willis is great. End of story.
Originally posted by hondakillerzx:
overhyped??? hes the best ILB in the league!!! dudes been in the probowl every year and an all pro. the rest of the players and coaches get 2/3 of the vote in that so i would say he has the leagues respect

Just a poorly phrased thread title, I think. Should have read, "Can someone explain to me what Fangio is doing that is making Willis' impact less visible to me?"

Originally posted by Furlow:
I appreciate the honest question and unlike everyone else, I will try to give an honest FOOTBALL answer. Willis is highly regarded because of his ability to do a variety of things very well. You're right, when we ran the 4-3 he was a beast on the stat sheet. That is how a 4-3 is designed. With Fangio's 3-4 scheme, the ILB's have to share the "glory." Willis probably will not ever lead the league in tackles, at least not while we run the 3-4. Couple that with the outstanding play of Bowman, and his stat sheet production has gone down even more. He's also not an amazing pass rusher, so his sack totals suffer, and he's only a marginal "ball hawk," so he doesn't get many INT's.

I know it may sound like I'm down on Willis, but I'm not. He is the most complete ILB ever. EVER. By far the most sure tackler in the league today, and maybe of all time. When do you ever see anyone break free from him? I can't think of one time. He takes on lead blocks and stuffs them immediately, creating space for Bowman to make a play. That aspect of his play cannot be understated... How many players can you think of that would have their role changed from being the featured player on defense (the MLB in a 4-3) to just a "piece" of a team defense?

The most underrated aspect of Willis' play though, is his pass coverage ability. In Fangio's scheme, he's asked to do this A LOT. And he's not asked to cover FB's or even RB's. No, he's covering TE's. And we all know that most TE's today are just WR's with a "TE" next to their name. His pass coverage is excellent. And when he's 30 yards down field, he's not going to get as many opportunities to make tackles and be on the stat sheet. TEAM PLAYER.

Obviously he is physically gifted, and his ability to go sideline to sideline is well documented. But his willingness to sacrifice his own personal glory for the good of the team, and his ability to excel at every aspect of what he's asked to do - is why he is so highly regarded.

At what point did we ever run the 4-3? Haralson Spikes Willis and Lawson were our linebackers for a few years, with aubrayo franklin at NT, Soap at DE. We never ran the 4-3, Nolan came in 2005 and implemented the 3-4 and its been that way ever since. So it was Spikes taking on the blockers and Willis making the stops.
Originally posted by verb1der:


wtf is with the scratch noises?
its hard to believe this thread was started by a 49er fan but ill throw my 2 cents in. i think his hype is right where it needs to be. niether over hyped or under rated and overall already a great linebacker. as another poster wrote that nobody gave real reasons why so ill give mine. its all speculation but i would guess that he is the number one player other offenses game plan for or to try to stay away from on our defense. i think since he has played i have only seen him miss a HANDFULL of tackles. when he puts his hands on you you go down. he covers from side to side on the field like nobodys business. countless times you see a running back with tons of room on the outside and then here comes 52 to keep em to only 2 or 3 yards. he takes on lead blockers and sheds to make tackles tons of times or blows up the hole and lets his teammates make the tackle. i think the running backs look for him as soon as they break the huddle. he is rarely out of position looking lost. sometimes his play is unexplainable because i just think he is a great student of the game and really understands the linebacker position. this is just my opinion
not over hyped at all and i'm very happy to have the best ilb tandem in the nfl.
trade him for another draft pick. Lord knows that we need another pick.
Originally posted by verb1der:

You have to be on some serious drugs to think that Patrick Willis is over rated
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