If there’s one play that sums up Luke Kuechly’s season – and is representative of how he’s played pretty much his entire career – it has to be the one Kuechly made on the opening snap of the second half at Cleveland.
Off play-action designed to catch Carolina’s defense flowing the wrong way, Kuechly and fellow linebacker Thomas Davis saw it coming from a mile away. Kuechly reversed field before the fake was completely carried out and swarmed receiver Jarvis Landry, jarring the ball loose to set up Davis for a fumble recovery.
The play was among a franchise-record 20 tackles for loss for Kuechly in 2018, when he appeared to be as good as ever at knowing what the offense was planning to do and then being able to do something about it. Many of his tackles for loss came on passes near the line of scrimmage, be them to receivers or backs.
Kuechly was his usual self this past season, ranking eighth in the league with 130 tackles based on press box stats. He played in every game for the first time since 2014 to increase his career tackle total to 948 – most in the league since he arrived as a rookie in 2012.
Kuechly was named a first-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his illustrious career, matching J.J. Watt of the Texans for the most such honors among players on rosters this past season. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be making a run at a sixth first-team nod in 2019.