The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2012 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Washington Redskins, that player is middle linebacker Perry Riley.
Midway through last season, the Redskins made a switch at middle linebacker next to London Fletcher, substituting the then inexperienced Perry Riley, a 2010 4th round pick, for the struggling Rocky McIntosh and then may have discovered their long term successor for London Fletcher, who is heading into his age 37 season. McIntosh, through 8 games, had just 42 solo tackles, 10 assists, 7 missed tackles, and 20 stops.
Riley, however, in their next 8 games, had 42 solo tackles, 16 assists, 7 missed tackles, and 34 stops. If he played all 16 games and maintained his rates, he would have had 84 solo tackles, 32 assists, and 68 stops, which would have ranked 16th, 1st, and 2nd at his position. His 14 missed tackles would have been 3rd worst at his position, but you can still see the kind of production he would have had if he had started all 16 games.
He ranked 5th at his position with a run stop rate of 12.6%, with 26 run stops on 206 run snaps. He needs to become a more efficient tackler, as he ranked 39th out of 51 eligible middle linebackers in tackling efficiency (missed tackles per tackle), but on run stops, he actually ranked 24th. He mostly struggled with tackling on coverage snaps, missing 4 tackles, as opposed to just 18 total tackles (12 solo, 6 assists).
Coverage, in general, was a bit of a struggle for him. He allowed 29 completions on 36 attempts (80.6%) for 269 yards (7.5 YPA) and a touchdown. His poor tackling in coverage undoubtedly contributed to this as 197 of his yards allowed were after the catch. For reference, that ranked 24th among eligible middle linebacker, while his total yardage allowed ranked 29th. If he can shore up that part of his game, it will go a long way towards making him a true 3 down linebacker. Heading into his first full year as a starter, he could easily emerge as one of the better middle linebackers in the league, especially against the run.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2