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Normally if one was to mention Sean Weatherpoon and Lawrence Taylor in the same sentence it would be hyperbole, but through five games he's one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
While the NFL didn't start recording tackles as a statistic until 1993, fans are still able to get a sense for a player based on their impact on a game. What's remarkable about Sean Weatherspoon's 2012 season thus far is how so few are talking about it being on pace to be one of the greatest seasons by a 4-3 outside linebacker, in at least the last decade.
Through five games Weatherspoon has amassed a staggering 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 passes defended, and added a forced fumble. More impressive is how little help the Falcons' linebacker has needed from others, with 76% of his tackles being recorded as solo take-downs. In Mike Nolan's varied, shifting offense he's the x-factor, and thus far as a complete linebacker he's been one of the best in the league.
Assuming Sean Weatherspoon keeps up his breakneck pace, the Atlanta linebacker in on pace for:
118 tackles, 10 sacks, 6 passes defended, and 3 forced fumbles.
As a comparison, Von Miller was lauded for being the league's next great linebacker following his rookie season, one that produced 50 less tackles, and just 1.5 more sacks. The rise of Sean Weatherspoon to be one of the league's elite linebackers has been quiet, but soon enough people will have to take notice.
In the last ten years only one linebacker has hit the near-unreachable mark of 100 tackles and 10 sacks-- James Harrison, who did it in 2008 and 2010. So far in 2012 Sean Weatherspoon is well underway, and with his game-in, game-out consistency, this mark may not be too far out of his reach.