Dee Ford’s Mom Is Reading Your Tweets About Dee Ford

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Ah, the life of being a professional athlete’s parent.

Dee Ford spoke with Fox Sports Kansas City’s Sean Keeler to talk about his adjustment to the NFL, his lack of playing time, and what he’s learned in his rookie season. What he and his mother have learned is that Twitter can be a cruel place if you’re not meeting the expectations of the masses. Here’s what Ford told Keeler:

"“I heard [about what fans are saying on social media],” the Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie outside linebacker said with a knowing — almost too knowing — chuckle. “Because (of) my mom — I have to keep her off. She tells me about it, you know what I mean? They (family) come back and tell me. I know how it is.”And as for Mom, well …“She didn’t like it. I’m like, ‘Mom, it’s cool, half these people don’t even know what’s going on. They just look at that one thing that was funny, and it’s entertainment.'”"

Ford played in a career high 38 snaps on Sunday against the Raiders, coming away with a half-sack, a quarterback hit, and a stop (a solo tackle that results in an offensive failure). In the last two weeks Ford has played in 53 defensive snaps, three more than he had played in from weeks one through 13. His lack of playing time plus the embarrassing Vine of him running away from Frank Gore in week five were enough for some fans to already label him a bust.

Not too unfairly, expectations are high on virtually all first round picks. Fans want a player who was selected in the first round to immediately produce for their team and to be part of the reason why their team goes 19-0 and wins the Super Bowl. Hey, if you can’t dream as a fan then what can you do?

But there has to be an element of reason and understanding when it comes to rookies no matter where they are drafted.

For instance, Dontari Poe was a the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft and started immediately as a rookie. He was awful, coming in with a -14.5 overall grade from PFF, zero sacks, three quarterback hits, and 9 quarterback hurries. Now Poe is coming off a Pro Bowl season and is considered to be one of the better tackles in football.

In the great wide receiver class of 2014, 16 rookies have played at least 25% of their team’s snaps and 10 of them have a negative overall grade. Among those 10: Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandin Cooks.

Being a rookie means that more than likely you’re going to fail – a lot. And that seems to be true of 3-4 outside linebackers.

Pro Football Focus has been grading players since 2007, so eight seasons of rookie classes. Of all the rookie 3-4 outside linebackers who played at least 25% of their team’s snaps, only Clay Matthews (2009), Aldon Smith (2011), and Khalil Mack (2014) have had PFF grades of +12 or better. Think about that: in order get a +12 grade for a season all you need to do is average a +0.75 grade every game for a season. Only three rookies were able to do that.

Being a rookie 3-4 OLB is clearly an adjustment, especially if you’re moving from defensive end to outside linebacker. And this is also the case if you’re making that adjustment as an established NFL player.

Tamba Hali switched from defensive end to outside linebacker in 2009 after spending his first three seasons as a defensive end. That first season was a nightmare when he wasn’t rushing the passer.

In that season Hali posted a +25.2 pass rushing grade on the strength of nine sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and 36 hurries. But in every other facet he was awful. As a run defender he posted a -18.7 grade and in coverage he finished with a -3.7 grade despite rarely going into coverage. At no time in that season did Hali have a game where he was a +1 run defender nor did he ever top +0.5 in coverage. In fact, in Hali’s first five games that season he had a -9.3 overall grade and a -11.5 run defense grade. That’s horrifyingly bad.

The following season Hali had a +53.5 overall grade, was a more consistent player in coverage and against the run, and is now considered one of the best outside defenders in the NFL.

Does this mean Ford is going to be great? No. But Ford struggling in his rookie season shouldn’t be a surprise, especially when he’s having trouble seeing the field because to two of the top 10 pass rushers in the NFL are playing ahead of him.

What I’m asking for here is to give Dee Ford’s Mom a break. It’s not Ford’s fault Justin Houston and Hali are ahead of him on the depth chart, or that transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker is hard, or that a Vine happened to go viral.

Ford showed that flash yesterday of being a guy who can get after the quarterback. That first step is no joke, and as he gets bigger and stronger he should be able to add to his pass move repertoire.

Give it some time and leave Ford’s Mom alone.