Dre Greenlaw is building a reputation in the NFL as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the game. As a player who flies to the football and plays fast and violently, Greenlaw has everything you want in a linebacker. The question is: Is he building a reputation as a dirty player?
For the record, I don’t believe Greenlaw to be “dirty.” The fact of the matter is it seems nearly every game this season has seen Greenlaw flagged for unnecessary roughness or a late hit. Greenlaw has been flagged six times for unnecessary roughness six times since 2022.
Kyle Shanahan was asked about Greenlaw’s latest write-up on his penalty against the New York Giants:
“Yes, thank you for asking that again because I do have to check on that. I know he got it written up so I need to go read it. But anytime you play like Dre, he doesn’t hesitate in anything he does, so he jumps off the screen to people. But you’ve still got to call it right. It’s harder when people are like that. But he plays one way and if he is ever playing a way that’s illegal or anything that’s not allowed, we will change that fast. But Dre is a very talented athlete and very physical and a violent player who can play that fast and keep himself out of trouble for the most part.”
And I think he’s done a very good job of that throughout his career. The hardest one was the one versus [Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin] Herbert last year, which was just unfortunate, but I think he’s done a real good job at it.”
Shanahan doesn’t seem concerned with the penalties. Greenlaw may have lost the benefit of the doubt on some of the calls, but Shanahan doesn’t want to curb the attribute that makes Greenlaw special as a linebacker. It will be interesting to see how this plays out this season.