Contrary to popular belief, we actually hate stockpiling criticism against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. Or anyone else playing for the Cincinnati Bengals for that matter. But he struggled in coverage, played slow against the run earlier during the season. And despite generating 267 tackles as the starting middle linebacker on a defense that ranked inside the top-ten in consecutive seasons, fans clearly have a hard time accepting him -- which may be self-inflicted in some cases.
Pro Football Focus charted the number of first downs and touchdowns allowed by linebackers while in coverage across the NFL.
Maualuga allowed 35 first downs (most among linebackers) and two touchdowns, second-most combined in the NFL to veteran London Fletcher (33 and five respectively).
The Cincinnati Bengal middle linebacker didn’t help his chances of earning a big deal as he approaches free agency for the first time in his career. The former second-round pick was beaten for a linebacker-leading 35 first downs, though his two touchdowns surrendered ensured he wasn’t the worst offender.
Of the 85 passes targeting players he covered (or nearest to in zone coverage), 77.6 percent led to receptions, accounting for 713 yards receiving and an opposing quarterback rating of 109.5.
Maualuga will become an unrestricted free agent in early March.