While the highlight-reel hits and animosity with opponents (either real or perceived) makes for great theater, if Spikes wants to be considered a truly elite linebacker, some believe he needs to start stringing together more consistent performances, particularly when it comes to pass defense. Over the course of the 2012 season, there have been several occasions where opposing quarterbacks have been able to locate Spikes in man coverage and pick up passing yards. To that end, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders says there’s a lot to like about Spikes’ game, but at this stage of his career, he’s not quite among the most feared linebackers in the game.
“If Spikes is one of the most feared linebackers in the game, it’s because he hits hard,” Schatz said. “But he frequently seems to get lost in pass coverage. He’s good against runners and is better than most players when it comes to jarring the ball loose. I would say he’s probably an average NFL starter. That still makes him one of the 25 best middle linebackers in the world, but he’s not ‘elite.’