I have to admit it, I was so very wrong about A.J. Klein. I was foolish to believe that Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were wrong for bringing in the veteran linebacker to replace the role formerly held by the beloved Lorenzo Alexander. It’s time I apologize for doubting Klein and his abilities. Over the past few weeks he has proved me wrong. This week’s Thursday Thought: An Apology to A.J. Klein.
My uncertainly about Klein started back in March when the Bills paid him a healthy contract, three years for a total of $18 million. Initially, I felt that the contract was far too rich for Klein. He was someone whom I knew was a steady veteran player, who has his abilities and flaws. Specifically, I thought that Klein was not a three-down linebacker and was making three-down linebacker money.
Over the summer we heard little to nothing about Klein. He was going to be a starter on defense. However, his role and how he played was unknown. There were plenty of articles that called the signing the worst of the offseason for the Bills. Early in the season, it seemed that these claims were true.
After injuries to both Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, Klein was needed to play a far bigger role. However, with the contract, he signed in the offseason I for one hoped that he’d show us exactly why the Bills paid him. Unfortunately in his larger role, Klein struggled significantly.
It seemed like in the passing game, opposing quarterbacks would pick on Klein. In the running game, he was always a step or two behind the play. He was struggling to tackle ball carriers and was a liability on the field at all times, or so I thought.
Over the past several games Klein has not just been one of the best players on the Bills defense but one of the best linebackers in football. He’s tied for a team-high in sacks with 4.5. In Week 12, he had more tackles than any other player with 14 tackles and had 1.5 sacks on the day.
He’s been dominant down the stretch and has become a valuable piece to the Bills defense. With Matt Milano coming back soon from injury, the linebacker core looks to be a huge strength going into December and January. Something that no Bills fan would have believed back in September and October.
So on behalf of all Bills fans who doubted Klein (including myself), I apologize for all the wrong I said. Klein is a menace for opposing offenses and is someone who I’m happy to see in a Bills uniform.