After his poor 40-yard dash time at the Combine that really didn’t matter much at all, Manti Te’o kindly requested that you please refrain from judging him solely on two attempts to run 40 yards in a straight line.
That made sense, because while being fast is trendy among linebackers now and it sure is useful, plenty of LBs have had successful careers while possessing average or even far below average speed. At the time others may have smashed all the panic buttons, but we shrugged and carried on with more important matters.
Now Te’o has another request, and another singular focus for you to avoid: don’t judge him solely by the tape produced from one game.
That game is, of course, the BCS National Championship game this past January in which the Notre Dame defensive front was thoroughly and repeatedly trampled by Alabama’s NFL caliber offensive line, and their running back (Eddie Lacy) who may be the only RB drafted in the first round on April 25.
Te’o spent much of that game unable to escape and/or shake blocks, and with their defensive anchor all but erased, the Irish were promptly exposed. Lacy ran for 140 yards on 20 carries (a pretty stupid seven yards per carry) while scoring once on the ground, and then adding another touchdown through the air, along with his 17 receiving yards. T.J. Yeldon also rushed for 108 yards, with that math leading to 248 total yards between the two running backs.
But hey, whatever. Those are just numbers, amirite? How did Te’o look? I mean, did this hack writer even WATCH THE GAME!!!!1
Well, here’s over eight minutes of mostly meh, with a healthy dose of awful mixed in. If you don’t have time for your full daily morning tape study session right now, please note Te’o's play on the two first-quarter touchdowns, and Lacy’s 15-yard run, all of which happen in the first two and a half minutes of the moving picture show below.
Again, we see poor reads, and being occupied by blockers, which allowed the running back to escape for long runs. This would be damaging during any game, but what’s really troubling is that the ‘Bama offensive line is nearly assured of having two first-round picks (Chance Warmack, and D.J. Fluker), and center Barrett Jones likely to follow in the second round.
No, Te’o shouldn’t be judged solely on his poor title game performance, since he still had a season with 113 tackles and seven interceptions. But he should be judged heavily. And really, that’s all he’s asking.
Here’s what Te’o said to Lions.com yesterday following his visit with Detroit:
“It’s a little frustrating that people look at one game and say that was the closest thing to an NFL team that I had faced, not giving credit to all the other teams that I played. So you’re saying Stanford isn’t an NFL team; Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and USC.
“(Alabama) is definitely a game I didn’t do as well as I could have, but it’s not something I felt could define my career at Notre Dame.”
Fair enough, but comparing the O-lines elsewhere to Alabama’s is, um, unwise. While the rest of the non-football watching public focuses on a fake dead girlfriend, that Alabama tape has already done its damage, as it’s what will truly lead to Te’o's tumble.