Sep 25, 2011; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) between downs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Fernando Medina-USA TODAY Sports
This edition of Fan Favorites features the team’s defensive captain Sean Weatherspoon or just Spoon, as fans would refer to him. Spoon has been on a meteoric rise within the organization and still has plenty of room to grow. He is known as loud and outspoken, but never seems to cross any lines publicly. He is also the defensive play caller and serves as the team’s motivational voice. He is the Spoooooon (The Tick reference was on purpose). All statistics are brought to you by edraft.com and sportrac.com.
Recent Regular Season Statistics:
Week 9 Dallas Cowboys- DNP
Week 10 New Orleans Saints- DNP
Week 11- DNP
Week 12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 6 solo tackles
Week 13 New Orleans Saints- 1 solo tackle and 3 assisted tackle
Week 14 Carolina Panthers- 3 solo tackles and 5 assisted tackles
Week 15 New York Giants- 6 solo tackles 3 assisted
Week 16 Detroit Lions- 7 solo 2 assisted
Week 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 8 solo tackles
Recent Post Season Statistics:
Divisional Round Seattle Seahawks – 5 solo tackles and 3 assisted tackles
NFC Championship San Francisco 49ers- 3 solo tackles and 2 assisted tackles
Spoon has a pretty obvious trend setting in here in that he gets most of his tackles by himself (or solo). Whether that is scheme-driven or just incredible play is certainly debatable but no matter the situation, he is a quality tackler. He did miss a few games with an injury, but this team is known for making sure the key players are ready for the postseason and giving injuries the proper time to heal. Take away the three games he missed and his season tackle per-game average is 7.3. Keep in mind that Wesley Woodyard (of Denver) averaged 7.3 tackles per game and Jo-Lonn Dunbar (of St. Louis) averaged 7.1 tackles per game and they finished the regular season at numbers 24 and 25 in the NFL for tackles. Having a full year would have put him around 115 to 120 tackles if everything stayed on par with his average production.
Off Field Behavior:
As vocal as Spoon is on the field, he is not so public off the field. In all actuality, his Twitter account makes him seem pretty regular. Take away him being an NFL player and all and he seems like a few guys that I know. Spoon has started multiple charitable organizations that deal with the youth. First and foremost on the list would be the Spoonful of Hope Foundation (here is the link to the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SpooNfulOfHopeFoundation). Its goal, as stated on its Facebook page, is “to teach kids effective life skills, help them overcome obstacles in their lives, and encourage them to fulfill their potential both academically and as people.” which seems like a very noble cause. The Spoonful of Hope Foundation also sponsors a youth football camp every year in Texas where in Spoon and a couple other players share their knowledge with the youth ages 7-16 for no charge. Weatherspoon has been so charitable that the team named him the Community All-Star in 2012 for all of the contributions he has made to the community. Another noteworthy tidbit is this website I stumbled across which sells Spoon t-shirts that are pretty cool, http://give.spreadshirt.com/sean-weatherspoon-spooooon-charity-A11526075, and 5 dollars from each sale goes to his charity Spoonful of Hope.
Future with the Team:
In 2013 Spoon is due to make about $2.3 million, and that number rises to only about $2.7 million in 2014. If the team doesn’t decide to stick with him, he will be a free agent in 2015, but I can’t see this happening. He is still on his rookie contract, which was five years and not four like usual, so the amount of money he is making is pretty good for his first contract. However, I suspect if he continues to improve like he has then he will see a pretty big payday in 2014 or 2015. I don’t think I am going out on to much of a limb when I say that the team will try to wrap Weatherspoon up for a long time. When Mike Nolan took the reins as the new defensive coordinator, the team made a quick statement by letting the teams tackle leader from the year before in Curtis Lofton. Nolan was quoted as saying that he didn’t think Lofton was a three-down linebacker, which indirectly means that he thought Weatherspoon was, and that should mean there is more to come from the young linebacker.
Possible Roles Next Year:
In Mike Nolan’s multiple front defense, the amount of linebackers on the field in any given play varies greatly. The nickel packages run 2 linebackers, the 4-3 and 3-3-5 packages run 3 linebackers, and 3-4 packages run four linebackers. Through all of this, Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas will be seeing the majority of the snaps. Spoon played about 81% of all defensive snaps last year while Nicholas played about 85% of all snaps. Once again, keep in mind that Spoon was out for three games in the year so you can infer how many he will see when healthy. He should not be moving around too much, but anything is possible under Coach Nolan.
Spoon is the cornerstone for the Falcons’ defense and has proven to be worthy both of the first round pick and our admiration. He has not only become the on-field leader, but has taken it upon himself to go above and beyond the call of duty and help the youth in the community in his free time. Spoon is an exciting player to watch play football and I find myself yelling “SPOOOOOON!!” pretty often on most Sundays and some Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays. I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of the not only great football player, but seemingly great human being, Franklin DeSean “Sean” Weatherspoon.