Originally Posted by Carbine
You're watching a player just as good today. His name is Patrick Willis.
He's certainly the best ILB/MLB in the game today and Lewis successor in the league, though I'd say Ray was better - close but clearly - in his prime just from what I remember seeing personally. I've never really felt stats did him justice and people always say he just piles on for assists which is really just horseshit to me.
Taking their first six years in the NFL:
Patrick Willis (2007-2012)
621 Solo Tackless
49 Pass Defenses
14 Forced Fumbles
Ray Lewis (1996-2001)
704 Solo Tackles
46 Pass Defenses
3 Forced Fumbles
All in All, pretty close. You may even be inclined to say the edge here goes to Willis. So what's the kicker? Willis has recorded 21 Run Stuffs (Tackles at or behind the LOS, no way to pad). Through the same number of games, Lewis had already compiled 64.5, more than three times as many.
While it's true teams run less these days, the difference isn't nearly enough to make up for that gulf in class.
For Jackass, London Fletcher is still trying to reach 60.