Atlanta Falcons: Spoon’s attracting early Pro Bowl hype

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

BIRDLAND — Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who’s set to enter his third year in the league, is receiving some extremely early Pro Bowl hype.

Who will be the OLBs on the NFC Pro Bowl team in 2012?

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Weatherspoon finished last season with 127 tackles (86 solos) and four sacks. He was also solid in pass coverage. He covered running backs coming out of the backfield and covered tight ends down the field. He also had one fumble recovery and eight passes defensed.

We checked in with Spoon back in May. CLICK HERE.

Also, it is clear that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has high expectations for Weatherspoon.

“He’s playing the same position in this defense that he was before, so there are no changes there,” Nolan said. “It’s very familiar to him. The expectation of him is that he continues to play well.”

Weatherspoon figures to have a big role in Nolan’s pressure packages.

“All players like to have their numbers called when you are pressuring and things like that,” Nolan said. “I’d like to think we’ll spread it around a little bit more than most. A lot of that depends how good of a guy he is at doing those things. Spoon is a very good player. I would hope that if he was pressuring or not, he would be making plays.”

Gregg Rosenthal, of NFL.com, is doing an around the league feature before training camps open. He predicted a breakout season for Weatherspoon in 2012.

I’m uncomfortable making Weatherspoon my “Making the Leap” pick for the Falcons, because he’s already made a sizable jump. He’s the leader of this Falcons defense. (Why do you think they let Curtis Lofton walk?) Weatherspoon is already one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in football. He easily could have made the Pro Bowl last year, but he’s not a big enough name yet.

He’s listed here because he deserves more attention. Those Pro Bowl nods are often built on reputations gained one or two years after a player truly earns recognition. I’m doing my tiny part to elevate Weatherspoon’s reputation now.

Last season, the NFC Pro Bowl outside linebackers were Green Bay’s Clay Matthews, Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and Chicago’s Lance Briggs.  Weatherspoon had more tackles than all of them and more sacks than Briggs, according to NFL.Com stats.

Ware had 58 tackles and 19.5 sacks. Briggs has 105 tackles and no sacks. Matthews has 50 tackles and six sacks. He also had 12 passes defensed and three interceptions.

I don’t think Rosenthal is off the mark at all. But, do you all think, Weatherspoon will make the Pro Bowl in 2012?

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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133 comments Add your comment

mark

July 6th, 2012
5:45 am

Marcus

July 6th, 2012
6:36 am

yup. I think Nolan’s schemes will up the profile of the entire D.

tjhook

July 6th, 2012
6:40 am

Weatherspoon was part of a defense that could not get off the field on third downs. I have to say his Pro Bowl hopes lie with that result. Get off the field quicker and he will get on a Pro Bowl roster.

Virginia Jim

July 6th, 2012
6:42 am

Appropriate picture-`wave of the future` against `pains of the past`.

Mike is Back

July 6th, 2012
7:35 am

Yes, I think the chances are very good…if not the pro bowl…A giant leap amongst his peers in the game…dude got mad skills…and speed to back it up.

Another hit like the one he put on Stafford…and everyone will know his name.

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
8:02 am

His stats aren’t very impressive for being a No. 1 pick. However, he is your team’s best OLB, but after him, that depth chart looks real desolate. And he’s receiving early Pro Bowl hype? LOL! From where? The Georgia media? LOL!

FalconFANatic

July 6th, 2012
8:20 am

I can’t wait to see Nolan’s pressure packages this coming season. This is the most excited about the defense I have been in a while….I would much rather have Spoon over Lofton anyday….I guess the Saints like eating off of the Falcons scrap pile. Go Falcons!!!

NFCCHAMPSLIVEINGA

July 6th, 2012
8:24 am

SW56 has done well for the Falcons!! I expect him to continue to get better. Our D will improve from last year. I expect some hickups early on, but afterwards, a more aggressive and consistent well oiled machine. Keep up the good work SW56!! RISE UP!!

Falcon James

July 6th, 2012
8:43 am

Other than he show boat a little too much, Spoon is one of the Top 3 OLB in the league. He is solid in all phases and his stat prove it. I agree the only reason he did not make the Pro Bowl last year was because he don’t have the name yet. This year will be different. 2012 will be the first of many Pro Bowl for him.

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
8:52 am

8:02 hey your stats aren’t very impressive either! You and ZERO have a sure thing in common……… My bet is you both like to play with baby ducks in the tub………

Go Spoon — Go Falcons!

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
8:53 am

“He didn’t make the Pro Bowl last year because he don’t have the name yet?” Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Sure, Pro Bowl selection is based in part on a popularity contest, but it’s also based in part, on performance.

I’ll agree with this: Spoon is one of the Top 3 OLBs on the falcan’t s roster.

robertussen

July 6th, 2012
9:02 am

the pro bowl is a popularity contest. and as a falcons fan i know my team is not popular. if we go out and have another 13-3 season we might have multiple probowlers again, but chances are people will just choose house hold name players regardless of their performance during the year. is spoon a probowl caliber player? without a doubt, he is. will spoon make the probowl? probably not, unless he gets even higher numbers in key stats and the falcons win almost all of their games.

PMC

July 6th, 2012
9:25 am

Sorry Spoon, it’s going to take a pro bowl season before I can get that Chicago game out of my head.

rollo lawson

July 6th, 2012
9:33 am

If th Falcon defense is Top 10, Spoon will make the Pro Bowl. Also watch out for William Moore. I believe he will have a break-out season. I love the way this guy plays. Defensive players coming out of Missouri lately have been damn good. Add Aldon Smith to that list as well.

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
9:53 am

9:33 i agree re William Moore very intense, tenacious hitter and has nose for the ball player. He just needs to consider wearing padding to protect his hip & knees…

Go Falcons!!

DavidGilmour

July 6th, 2012
9:57 am

I believe in him. I would just like to see a little less trash talk from him… maybe the OLB equivalent of a Barry Sandersesque approach where you celebrate by handing the ball to the ref.

Reminder: Saints fans = Turds

Saints fans, I showed a modicum of respect by capitalizing Turds.

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
10:00 am

LOL! Glad you mentioned that davidgilmour. I never, ever capilaize “falcan’ts”. LOL!

PreyDawg

July 6th, 2012
10:10 am

Spoon should be a top Candidate for pro bowl. I hope for a healthy season for him and if he has his health, I think he has defensive MVP potential.

I keep thinking about William Moore too. I love this guy but he hasn’t become the safety I thought he would be. I have a feeling, that if he stays healthy, he might lead the NFL in INT’s by a safety this year and sacks by a safety. I think this defensive scheme changes his game to the next level.

But Spoon is my favorite Falcon along with Ryan.

Dirtybird 82

July 6th, 2012
10:15 am

Spoon is our Von Miller. Now that he is playing under a DC who will know how to take advange of his skill set he will shine. Schemes make a HUGE difference on how a player performs, and he exceeded expectations in the limited one he previously played in. I fully expect him to make the Pro Bowl this year.

rollo lawson

July 6th, 2012
10:26 am

Two reasons why William Moore hasn’t become a Pro bowl player yet. Injuries have slowed him down. When healthy, you can see the potential. Moore has also been cursed with playing under a clueless, overmatched defensive coordinator in Brian Van Gorder. The guy didn’t know how to use him. Hopefully, Mike Nolan will have him blitzing and creating havoc all over the field. Same goes for Spoon.

rollo lawson

July 6th, 2012
10:29 am

And I could care less about the celebrating. I’ve been saying it for the longest, this team needs to shed the “choirboy” persona. Along those lines, Asante Samuel is just what the doctor ordered for this team.

SirReal

July 6th, 2012
10:29 am

It’s his time. He should get there. As always, I get a lil nervous toward the end of this month through the next. If we stay healthy over the stretch of training camp and preseason, THEN I’ll start really talking about this.

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
10:48 am

Although i agree with most of the recent post referencing the changes of our defense. I just can’t wait to hear the ZEROs’ comment of these post —- i can hear his or her fingers pounding the keyboard at this moment. Quote: You Falcon fans are soooo over zealous, right “Z” man “you sadistic ZERO”!!!!

Go Falcons!!!!

abby normal

July 6th, 2012
11:07 am

Spoon is a terrific player; I just hope he does not buy into all the hype and get a big head. We’ve had too many go down that road.

ATLJBO

July 6th, 2012
11:39 am

Rueben r

July 6th, 2012
11:46 am

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
11:53 am

SeenThisB4, can you please pass the following message on to your Quarterback: If he is looking for “evidence” that there was a bounty program, he can start by looking at the admissions by current and former Saints coaches. He can also examine his conscience and ask himself why, as a visible NFLPA leader, he was so vocal against the proposed 18 game schedule last year (citing player safety concerns), yet refuses to even acknowledge a program admitted to by his own coaching staff that is far worse for player safety.

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
12:01 pm

All of the Saints coaches, former and current, have admitted to having a pay for performance program not a bounty pay for injury program. So your self-generated “evidence” that you are claiming, is just that: fabricated. Maybe you should take the time to carefully read what they admitted to.

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
12:04 pm

Hmmm…so would a “pay for performance” program violate the salary cap? And what about the letter Greg Williams signed–that admitted to the bounty program, did it not?

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
12:11 pm

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
12:12 pm

You see the words “bounty program” below, cause I don’t:

“I’d like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions. Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I highly value the 23 years that I’ve spent in the NFL. I will continue to cooperate fully with the league and its investigation and I will focus my energies on serving as an advocate for both player safety and sportsmanship. I will do everything possible to re-earn the respect of my colleagues, the NFL and its players in hopes of returning to coaching in the future.”

And yeah, pay of performance is a salary cap violation. So what?!

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
12:16 pm

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/19378838/nfl-reveals-more-bounty-evidence-much-of-it-courtesy-of-the-saints-banned-williams

My favorite part about Williams’ admission is that the Saints targeted Marshawn Lynch…LOL…I wonder if it was before or after he was steamrolling them in that 2010 Wildcard game???

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
12:23 pm

Aain, the only person using the term “bounty” in your referenced link, is the writer of the story, hardly worthy of an admission. Talk about putting words in somebody else’s mouth! Can you say: Fabrication?!!

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an article up about Sean Weatherspoon and the Pro Bowl hype surrounding the third-year [...]

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
12:34 pm

From your own cited reference:

Williams told the investigators that by utilizing a pay-to-injure scheme he was mistakenly “rolling the dice with player safety and someone could have been maimed.”

Notice how the term “pay-to-injure” was not inside the quotation marks above? Cause it was a term used by the writer, not Williams. The NFL’s case is flimsy, full stop, end of story. If it does make it to court, the NFL’s suspensions will be thrown out faster than you can say “frivolous”.

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
12:41 pm

So the part that is in quotes–him lamenting that someone could have been “maimed”–is simply in reference to a pay for performance program and not injury/bounty program? Huh? How does that work, exactly? If one of your DBs gets 2 INTs he gets $1,000! That’s pay for performance–how would someone else be maimed in that type of system?

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
12:55 pm

B4 – you sound like a homeless moron laying on the railroad track and daring the train to stop…. Sorry “schmuckO’ your dead” and you definitely don’t have a clue of what you are trying to talk about!

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
12:57 pm

Hey where is the “ZERO” certainly he/she has an opinion??? Hey “Good Buddy” bring your “Rubber Duck” — it’s a convoy

Gunner

July 6th, 2012
1:04 pm

People need to remember, the COACHES call the play, you do your job or the coaches will find you another place to play, next year!

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
1:20 pm

Why don’t you ask him what he was talking about? It could be his penchant for riling up his defenders to hit the opponents as hard as they could, or it could be that he was talking about his scheme to blitz, blitz, and blitz some more, or it could have been his challenges to his players to sack the QB time and time again. The short end of it is, YOU don’t know what he was referring to.

OK

July 6th, 2012
1:36 pm

It’s funny how you’re clowning the Falcons STB4… the aint’s don’t have a LB in the top 30 for tackles.

Drew Brees is insufferable and arrogant

July 6th, 2012
1:37 pm

SeenThis, I’m only applying your logic to Williams’ quote. Since it was the writer, not Williams, who used the word “injure,” you feel that he (Williams) could have been referring to anything…but if we agree that the part in quotes is actually what Williams said, I think it’s pretty damming. I don’t think a simple pay for performance plan would have anything risk of maiming anyone. Your last post is laughable-you think Williams is lamenting the tone of his own motivational speeches? That could risk players getting maimed??? Please…he has clearly given the league quite a bit of evidence and tesitomny on this matter.
I also question why Payton and Williams and Benson are not screaming to high heaven protesting their innocence. (As, admittedly, some of the accused players are).

Bottom line, I think Drew Brees should think of player safety and acknowledge, like his former DC did, the harm that his team’s program could have had on opposing players.

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
1:46 pm

B4 — I guess if you keep telling your children when they mis-behave and say “i am warning you if you don’t stop this mischief you are going to room and no food tonight” — well that’s enough punishment for you right? The point is moron, the ain’ts from management, coaches & players were worn to stop the bounty BS for almost three seasons. What did the ain’ts do, they continued their BS bounty crap. So you know what happens in the interim, re the NFLPA signs-up another CBA for ten years. It seems they didn’t read certain compiling parts of the new CBA. “What we have HIR is failure to communicate” — B4 you are an idiot, moron, hapless ain’t fan that needs a J.O.B.! You and ZERO match-up real close……….

Go Falcons!!!

Joe Tess Fish House

July 6th, 2012
1:53 pm

This is nutz. No way Witherspoon is pro bowel matreail. He is injruy prone and never has a compleat seasion. Whoever think this is hig or sumtin.

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
1:58 pm

Funny thing about folks like B4, The Zero., to name or call out a few, you’ve got it your raisin minds somebody owes you something. Whether you’ve earned it or not, but because of your brainwashed cultural ancestry back ground you think somebody in citizenry owes you something. Nope, no one owes you anything,”NOTHING”!!!!!

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
2:02 pm

Say “FisH” i guess you missed this one below, i’m sure if spoon was injured during these plays — wow how do think he would play if he were completely healthy. HHMMMM

ATLJBO
July 6th, 2012
11:39 am

Spoon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X91bBAJE18k

SeenThisB4

July 6th, 2012
2:06 pm

@ 1:37pm

#1: Benson hasn’t been accused of anything whatsoever, so he has no reason to protest.
#2: The coaches have been warned that if they don’t cooperate with the league, their suspensions maybe extended.
#3: It’s called Professional Football, not Professional Basketball, their is a high propensity for sustaining injuries and being maimed in this sport. Somebody could be injured just by getting tackled, as we have seen time and time again.
#3: I didn’t say that he was lamenting anything, I was just giving you my opinion of what he could have been referring to, since you asked. And until the NFL releases the so called “evidence” they say they have, no one will ever know what he was referring to, including people like you that like to speculate and fabricate their own fictional scenarios.
#4: Do you really think that Drew Brees, who has to wear a kevlar flack jacket just like every other NFL QB, is really worried about other player safety? Really?! I think that is clearly laughable!

Charles

July 6th, 2012
2:12 pm

“Book Dan O”, he’s in, breakout year in 2012.

Matt

July 6th, 2012
2:23 pm

This is what the off-season is down to? An article about an article about an outrageously premature speculation?

Can we fast-forward a month? PLEASE???

True Falcon Fan

July 6th, 2012
2:30 pm

Would that be that same as “Back to the Future” —- Hello!