posted at 12/26/2013 9:34 AM EST
I think it's perfectly ok to say Hightower had a great game against the Ravens. I think it's ok to say he played well for stretches against Miami, until he had to cover ten yards of space and lost a runner in coverage. I also think it's ok to say he has played like a pig for 90% of the time he's been here, despite the fact he was a first round pick with tons of positional flexibility. I won't make excuses for him, he was drafted because he had the ability to play every linebacker spot and play them well. Belichick said right after the draft he was a guy that had played all the spots...that he wouldn't have to come off the field, and that he played in a similar style of defense.
I was happy when they drafted him. I'm on record saying he would make a great inside linebacker. I thought he would be a Levon Kirkland type for us - a guy who has outstanding size, good speed for that size, good athleticism for his size, great strength and positional flexibility. I thought he would be a replacement for Spikes and he would line up next to Mayo eventually. I figured he would be able to do everything Spikes did and be able to offer a little something in coverage as well.
I watched him as a rookie and honestly I seriously questioned all of those things. Too me he looked like Andy Katzenmoyer - he had the measurables, but when he took on blocks he lead with his shoulders and wasn't using his hands. When he tackled, he tried throwing 260 pounds behind his shoulder, rather than wrapping a guy up. He looked lost in coverage. He looked a tad bit slower than expected. He wasn't diagnosing plays quick enough. He was the last one moving after the snap (often a step in the wrong direction). All of this stuff had Andy Katzenmoyer written all over it.
I said in August that I was hoping Hightower was going to make that big leap that everyone talks about with NFL players - aside from the Baltimore game it hasn't happened - excuse me if I'm not ready to pee my pants with excitement. Excuse me if I'm not going to bite my tongue, like I did when Chung showed serious signs that he was a moron.
I bit my tongue while I watched Ron Brace play like he was on rollar skates. I bit my tongue watching Rasi Dowling get hurt from a stiff wind - remember that guy? We all had to keep our mouths shut because he played well for two quarters against the Jets before never playing well again. The very same guy that started this thread jumped all over me and reminded me about his ten minute performance every time I began to question that selection. The same guy told my how great Cunningham looked his rookie year - even said he was better than Carlos Dunlop - then continued to call me a troll when I said I thought he was the absolute worst outside tweener guy that came out of the draft that year. I said that. I thought he was the absolute dumbest (blindly rush up the field ten yards past the tackle, taking himself out of the play), stiff, small, guy we could of selected. I sat quiet on Merriweather for a little while, while rusty told me he was the second best safety in the AFC, but that's when I began to realize rusty didn't know what he was talking about (and that we were no longer a lock to draft the right guys).
I could list literally 50 players rusty has told me were great and that I was a troll for criticizing. I'm not kidding, 50. I'm sorry I feel I have the right to call Hightower a bust a year earlier than I usually would, but I feel historically this is probably what he is.