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Reading Paul Kuharsky's mailbag: Saturday

What does ESPN reporter Paul Kuharsky have to say?

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

ESPN's Paul Kuharsky has a running article on the weekends where he answers twitter questions in the offseason. It is usually filled with interesting topics and this week's is no different. This week's big question had to do with the impact of Zach Brown in this defense.

When asked how important he was, Kuharsky had this to say:

"Zach Brown looked good to me, and they are happy with him. He was hurt and lost for the season in the team's first defensive series of 2014. So I am counting him as a new starter in 2015, along with safety Da'Norris Searcy, cornerback Perrish Cox and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. Brown will be an important guy, and while there is little doubt he can turn and run with tight ends, we need to see him help solve the run-defense issue. He told me the year of rehab and putting on some weight means he can hit stuff faster."

To which I say, this is a very good point that people are ignoring. It has never been like Zach Brown has been a consistent strength in any defense, however he has been a very above average piece.

In two years as a starting linebacker (a 4-3 weakside linebacker specifically) Brown averaged more than 90 tackles, had 9.5 total sacks, and four interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns. All of that in a defense where he wasn't really being used as a featured piece.

Another underrated interior linebacker in this league is Lawrence Timmons of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Timmons played the same position in Dick LeBeau's defense that Zach Brown will play this year. Over the last five years, Timmons has never had less than 90 tackles, and topped 125 three times. While his sacks and interceptions won't blow you away, it doesn't change the fact that Steelers fans will tell you that he has been a huge factor on their defense staying relevant through the decline of Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu.

So I think a year with a 3-4 defensive playbook AND Dick LeBeau coming in and coaching this team, Zach Brown should be a better player than he has ever been before. I expect the unit as a whole to take a huge step forward, but maybe no one has more to gain than Brown.