You have to wonder what the exact thought process was moving Robert Geathers from Defensive End to Outside Linebacker. I did. Many have. It was just as big a surprise as Geathers' 10.5 sacks in 2006 that earned him a six-year contract extension worth between $32.5 to $33.7 million -- plus incentives.
With linebackers dropping all season, the team needed to put someone at linebacker. They started Geathers, against the Jets, at linebacker. Why? Well, he's the most athletic defensive lineman on the team that could make the progression. Though I believe Justin Smith, who plays pass coverage at times, deserved a look also -- if they choose to go that route. The linebackers on roster were hurt -- yet, sucking up a roster spot for nearly two months before being placed on IR.
During his stay at linebacker, between the Jets and Baltimore (four games), Geathers recorded nine total tackles -- including a shutout against Baltimore. Geathers, the high-priced sack-master for the Bengals, went without a sack until recording 1.5 sacks against Arizona at his defensive end home coming. Between Baltimore (game #1) and Arizona (game #10), Geathers didn't record a single sack.
Was it a matter of needed experience to be effective? I don't know. But when you sign a guy to a long-term deal earning big-cash, I believe moving him out of a position that earned him that contract, is a bit mind-boggling. Sign the guy to a long-term deal and move him to a position that he doesn't know? In the NFL?
As we expected, the experiment was a failure. But now that we have healthy linebackers again, there's no need to keep him in a unnatural position.