Sean Weatherspoon Faces Big Year For The Falcons

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The star linebacker faces a big test.

The Atlanta Falcons found a talkative gem in Sean Weatherspoon, the kind of incredibly athletic linebacker who can lead a defense for years. Given that he's returning for Saturday's game, I figured we'd want to talk about him.

Thus far, the arc of 'Spoon's career has been up and down. He's been underrated (2011 springs to mind) and overrated (last year was a little difficult). The talent is there and there's no question he's one of the best young linebackers in the NFL today, but he's not one of the most consistent. You have to take this with a grain of salt, given that he's had only three years in the league, but let's stack (FURNITURE) his 2012 against his 2011:

2012: 95 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
2011: 115 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 pass deflections

He probably should have been a Pro Bowler in 2011. In 2012, with a few struggles in coverage and numbers there were down a tick almost across the board, he was very good but didn't take the leap many of us expected. When you're talking about a player with an elite skill set, that qualifies as a mild disappointment.

With two seasons left on his deal, this is a pivotal moment for 'Spoon. If he brings the kind of play we all know he's more than capable of this season, he's going to be in Atlanta for a long time on a nice, fat contract. If he puts up numbers similar to 2012 this year, there's going to be whispers about his contract situation coming into 2014. It'd be best for everyone if we can avoid that.

I'll turn it over to you. What are your expectations for 'Spoon in 2013? \

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