Sack Saturday

Posted: July 15th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 60 Comments »

There are no hot topics to discuss so let’s talk about sacks. They became official stats in 1982 and the Eagles have had a ton of them in that time. There isn’t much that’s more fun than watching the opposing QB go down.

Unfortunately, sacks are on the decline. From PFT in a story on Julius Peppers:

The four players ahead of Peppers on the all-time sack list — Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene and Chris Doleman — all started their careers in 1985. That year, NFL teams averaged 2.92 sacks per game. By the time Peppers entered the NFL, in 2002, sacks were down to 2.29 per team per game. By last year, sacks were down to 2.18 per team per game.

As rules changes have favored passing offenses, and NFL teams have prioritized protecting their quarterbacks, it’s become more difficult to get a sack. Bruce Smith’s career record of 200 sacks is almost certainly out of reach for the 37-year-old Peppers. And when Peppers retires, he may have a sack total that’s out of reach for any active player. Getting to the quarterback has never been harder, and players like Julius Peppers don’t come along very often.

Keep that in mind when you rant against Brandon Graham being a PFF hero, but only having 5.5 sacks. It is getting harder and harder for defenders to get to the QB. Hurries and pressures aren’t ideal stats because they feel so subjective.

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PE.com posted a video of the Eagles 5 best sacks from 2016. Nothing great, but fun to watch.

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Since the unofficial end of Gang Green (1994), the Eagles have had 7 different players with 10 or more sacks in a season. Can you name them? 

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Speaking of Gang Green…

This is great. From the 11-sack game of Troy Aikman.

Probably my favorite Eagles sack of all-time.

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One of my favorite all time plays. In the 1996 season finale, the Eagles rushed just 2 players late in the half against the Cards. William Fuller and Mike Mamula each got to the QB. Some of the worst blocking you’ll ever see.

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I know this will be the favorite sack for some people. Great play.

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Here’s your answer to the earlier question.

Trent Cole (4 times)
Hugh Douglas (3 times)
William Fuller (2 times)
Connor Barwin
Jason Babin
Andy Harmon
Darren Howard

The last name was the toughest one. It is easy to forget that Howard had 10 sacks in 2008.

Who will be the next?

Brandon Graham
Vinny Curry
Fletcher Cox
Tim Jernigan
Derrick Barnett

My money is on Cox.

_


  • xmbk

    I remember that Dawkins strip sack. The fact that he recovered, the score and time left made it one of the all-time great individual efforts in football, in my opinion. Pure Will to Win.

    • ACViking

      How ’bout that former Eagles DE named . . . (drum roll) . . .

      Will Wynn from TN State.

      Vet was adorned with “We Will Wynn” signs during his brief tenure.

      Pass away in June 2013 at 64.
      http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/Former_Eagles_DE_Will_Wynn_64_dies.html

      Here’s one of his best hits:
      http://media.philly.com/images/060513_Wynn_600.jpg

    • wee2424

      My favorite sack, and one of my favorite Birds plays by my favorite player.

      Another effort play that was pivitol not only due to the score or time of game but the magnitude of the game as well took pmace in the NFCG versus Washington. Mcnabb threw what should have easily been a pick 6 but Jackson ran the DB all the way down the field to strip the ball and the Birds recovered. I stated should have been a pick 6 because I am not to sure if another player in the league would have been able to chase down that DB. I don’t recall if Jackson were the one to recover or not. Unfortunately as we all know it was for nothing. Just comes to mind as an all time Birds hustle play.

      Yes, that was 100% PI commited on Curtis on 4th down during the last and game deciding drive. Yes I do believe we could have defeated Pittsburgh.

    • daveH

      Dawkins crushing Culpepper at the goal line and forcing him to fumble !!

  • Jamie Parker

    I couldn’t get Andy Harmon on that list. I didn’t realize he had that many sacks for Ray Rhodes.

    • Dave

      I loved Andy Harmon. During his 11 sack 1995 season, I bought his Jersey to wear to games. Unfortunately, he only played in 7 games for the rest of his career.

  • wee2424

    An Honorable mention as to favorite sack is the one commited by Mcdougal on Eli in I believe the latters rookie year.

    At least we got that out of him. Yes I am looking at you MS2, and you didnt even get shot.

    • Guy Media

      McDougal is a prime example of where highly paid professionals need not to be hanging out in their free time.

      • Dave

        Stay. Out. Of. Miami!

  • Forthebirds

    Hicks crushing Romo has to one of the greatest because he was a rookie and it sent Romo to IR.

  • Guy Media

    “Hurries and pressures aren’t ideal stats because they feel so subjective.”

    Correct. If you didn’t get there, you didn’t get there. “Almosts” / “Mamulas” don’t even remotely approach a recorded sack in value.

    • or____

      But then BG is just OK, and Cox merely mediocre…. So clearly it’s not that one sided.

      • Guy Media

        The standards for DTs are different for that of DEs.

        • or____

          Yes, and does that mean that the sacks trend of note, mostly applies to the DE position and not so much DT? And has the DE sack slump pushed production inside as a result then?

          • Guy Media

            As a bottom line, where I’m ranking blame for the lack of sacks from the D line using the front 4 only in the wide 9 is

            Curry
            Barwin
            Smith II
            Allen
            Destiny
            Logan
            Graham
            Cox

            if we’re looking at the 2016 group.

          • Jernst

            I think the advent of quicker passing schemes like the west coast offense in the 80’s and 90’s, the adoption of spread concepts in the last decade, along with rule changes and the premium on protecting the QB has led to QBs getting rid of the football faster than ever before.

            Gone are the days when someone like Terry Bradshaw would routinely take 7 step drops and survey the field for an enternity. Instead you’ve got guys like Aaron Rodgers getting the ball out in under 2 seconds. After allowing for a quarter second reaction time after the snap, most humans in general, even elite athletes, would have trouble getting from their 3 point stance out where the DE is positioned to the QB who’s ten yards away in under 1.75 seconds if their path was totally unimpeded, let alone when there’s a 6’6″ 330 pound professional human blocker standing in the way.

            I think that’s why you’re seeing these insane contracts for DTs that can cause pressure. They’re the only guys on the field close enough to routinely effect a QB when they go to that quick strike passing attack.

    • Ark87

      True, hurries and pressures are meh, but sacks are over-rated too (unless it’s a strip sack). On 3rd down they have the same effect as an incomplete pass. 1st and second down sacks just lowers the odds of converting. Huge value if you knock them out of field goal range or get a safety though.

      How effective pressure is depends on the QB. Most QB’s will the more incomplete passes (~5 yards worse than a sack) and picks (way better than sacks) under pressure. The better the QB, the less pressure matters though. And for some QB’s, the Russel Wilsons of the world, Pressure but not getting the sack almost always leaves the door open for a big play.

      All of these stats heavily rely on context to give them value.

      • Jernst

        Luckily we can use expected points analysis and decades of data to figure out exactly what a sack is worth on average. Of course, context will play a huge part in an individual sack’s worth, the average sack is worth about 2 points on the scoreboard.

        http://archive.advancedfootballanalytics.com/2008/11/value-of-sack.html?m=1

        Which depending on how you look at it might mean we’ve actually been under selling the importance of sacks. Then again we’re Eagles fans, how much is a sack that puts the opponent in 3rd and 20 worth when the last few years that’s been a gimmie conversion against our pass defense?

      • D3FB

        84% of sacks kill the drive

  • Guy Media

    What is most depressing about that Dawk sack clip is that the Eagles totally dominated the Steeler and would have done so again in the Super Bowl if Andy and company didn’t engineer a choke vs. Arizona that saw our effort go down by 5 TDs in 2 months time between Arizona games.

    • Tumtum

      I think that game was much closer than Vegas predicted, if I recall correctly.

    • Jamie Parker

      2 Plays that still stick in my mind from that game were the trick play, where the only one not duped on the play was rookie Quentin Demps, who had no chance vs Larry Fitzgerald, and the 4th down play when Mikell had his hands on the runner in the backfield but couldn’t bring him down.

      • Guy Media

        True. Embarrassing x 2.

      • TXEaglesFan

        I remember McNabb throwing his patented worm burner to a crossing Hank Baskett who had nobody near him.

      • Anders

        I remember the no call pass interference on the last drive.

    • RobNE

      I’m with you here.

    • FairOaks

      Arizona fixed OL issues between the two games. In the first game, we got home pretty fast with just a 4-man rush. Eagles were able to dominate because of that.

      In the playoff game, we couldn’t get home unless we blitzed. And Warner was one of the QBs who could quickly diagnose a blitz and burn you by finding the open man in a hurry. And if you didn’t blitz, he could sit there for a while and find Fitzgerald. Just that one change completely altered the game — wasn’t really anything that Reid did or did not do. Getting pressure with a 4-man rush makes managing the rest of the game muuuuch easier.

  • Tumtum

    For some reason Darren Howard was one of the first names that popped into my head.

  • ColorSgt

    The 93 wildcard game was the first safety I remember seeing. That was really exciting. Reggie was a beast.

  • T_S_O_P

    If sacks are so much harder now, then that elevates J J Watt to the same Zip code, street and house as the Minister of Defense. The only player to accumulate 20 sacks in a season on 2 occasions.

    • SteveH

      If injuries don’t start to slow him I can see him getting somewhere near the sack record. Maybe in the 170ish area… depends on his longevity though.

      His 20.5/10.5/20.5/17.5 four year stretch was outrageous, he *averaged* over 17 sacks a season over 4 years…….

      • Dave

        “he *averaged* over 17 sacks a season over 4 years…” It’s crazy to think how many of those came against double teams.

        • Insomniac

          They have Clowney and Mercilus as well. The Texans easily has the best trio of pass rushers in the league.

          • SteveH

            Clowney only really came into his own last year when Watt was hurt… If that trio can stay healthy it’s going to be fun to watch.

          • Insomniac

            Yup and he’s just starting to reach his potential. It’s a shame they don’t have a game with the Cowgirls.

      • Ankerstjernen

        We might very well have seent he best of him though. Back problems tend to not go away. Can’t bet against his work ethic, so maybe he will be just as strong, but it is more likely that his issues will get worse as he gets older. Back issues are especially difficult for linemen who rely on upper body strength and torque to wrestle other heavy players.

      • D3FB

        If I had to put money on one active player who will get the closest to the the all-time record, it would be…

        Danielle Hunter. He doesn’t turn 23 until the end of October and already has 18.5 career sacks.

  • ACViking

    Re: Eagles DE Will Wynn Dominating Staubach

    Yesterday, I mentioned former Eagles DE Will Wynn (’73-’76).

    Back in the stone age — before ESPN and the internet — Monday’s Inquirer and The Evening Bulletin would run what are called “Machine Gun” photos (I think) of particularly exciting plays. That is, a series of quickly taken still shots.

    In Week 7 of the ’73 season — after 11 straight losses to Dallas — the 1-4-1 Birds upset the 6-0 Cowboys at the Vet 30-16 . . .

    With No. 71 Will Wynn getting 3 sacks.
    _____________________

    Here are of 2 of those sacks — #2’s especially good — in the machine-gun photo style of the day:
    First . . .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/81ec853c9f58d197dd0bbc7853ca46be14fc53716b73dc27112b7939be8adc57.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e06c472a80c00ebefb47b3f6c6fcfe20aad3f4cf0f8141673313458a43cfaa13.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b4515a56748773a79fb533168a2bbb85f86eefd4e56e2225f354f0478f36a1e2.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e719fcc0dbc63d52f49f078e066122ab1d39baf95abdba09d25ab3c92a96fe2.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63e4122b91720f56e5de222882857ebf10ea4af080dffa6d7ed5f6cd28109d38.png
    Next . . .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc8c2e30b46675d0d3289e8e976f1798ac31af856f51e56b623ab8abcdae4087.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/14be626e1575484bad69f9bdbb3df2589160e04e9fd2035066ff13373c76dd31.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/06c67d666130e4dbb16184e3164599c6f2d6fda912714d4318027f2b64dfaec7.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5236d0c2ec604223b74dc213ba661854360cf65782dd08a9db8cb952735db8ae.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dfb87fd42ae268459a3b52ffddc0528247286a71acb1c8d3289b57dc9b3998d2.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9ef85e03ac5accabbb716df1dbc72c63736469d305fe104530983f16fbdcdef0.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/abfe197aef1b3166e0143f7768e4df4f177f7e794a051eadcfe7f503a6f8f080.png
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c9e6d4b45afb4b810f6415b847cf0ff8b5e8ec8a3ddf2f37141787fedb26c290.png

    • Guy Media

      Bittersweet that I was born in 77 and missed a lot of the old old school guys.

      Not upset with missing Vermeil’s annual playoff chokes that were an “improvement” over Williams, Kuharik, and McCormick.

      • unhinged

        That’s a charge that is pretty hard to justify , imo. Vermeil achieved a paradigm shift in a city that had seen it’s last championship football 2o years in the rearview mirror. He did not have a great QB, and he had a very thin bench, but his stars and his role players bled green for their coach. When one considers how dysfunctional the Eagles franchise had been prior to and after Vermeil’s brief stint in Philly, your criticism feels over the top.

        • Guy Media

          I’ll grant you the paradigm shift for sure, but there are some really bad playoff losses in his mix.

          But
          78 season – choked a 13-0 lead vs. a really trash Atlanta team. Crappy kicking as well.

          https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197812240atl.htm

          79 season – beat Bears, but lost at a soft Tampa team with game manager Doug Williams at QB.

          https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197912290tam.htm

          80 season – Super Bowl choke in a rematch game vs. the Raiders because our coach had the team wound up to tight in spite of beating Oakland already that year.

          81 season – Choke home loss vs. low life Giants and roster / fan base full of scumbags.
          https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198112270phi.htm

          I think he’s very overrated as a head coach.

          • Jamie Parker

            He took an Eagles franchise from the dump to the Super Bowl. He later took a Rams franchise from the dump to win the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t consider that overrated. I also wouldn’t put down teams who make it to the playoffs. And that soft Tampa team had a heck of a defense in ’79, in fact, it was #1 in NFL.

          • Guy Media

            I think you’re failing to account for the following;

            – “Tampa” doesn’t say “Philadelphia”; therefore the wrong team won

            – I hated that Rams team, and especially Warner, so Vermeil gets no credit for non-Philadelphia based achievement.

          • unhinged

            You continually crack me up with your knee-jerk homerism. You totally abuse the term “choke”, and your disgust for just about any team that isn’t called Eagles reflects a black/white mindset at odds with the real world. I make these points with respect and appreciation. Keep on rocking in Media.

          • Tom33

            You had to be there. 20 years of just being a piss-poor team, but finally getting over the hump and beating America’s team.

            My favorite all-time Eagle not named Reggie or Dawkins ran for almost 200 yards in that game. I think Jaws had less than 100 yards passing and they still won. The Super Bowl sucked, but it was finally a taste of success. Who knew that almost 40 years later we would still be waiting for that last win?!?!

            As far as Vermeil goes, Buddy Ryan is loved in Philly for accomplishing a whole lot less than Vermeil did.

          • Guy Media

            I don’t think there is any rational / logical way folks could rank Buddy over Vermeil, but I get the sense that you’re right about the “love” level. Buddy should absolutely get flamed for playoff chokes more than he does.

            And I also totally get the “you had to be there” element of looking at Vermeil.

      • RobNE

        The team was so bad they had open tryouts AND a guy from open tryouts made the team and played for 3 or so years.

    • P_P_K

      Great research. Thanks.

    • Dave

      It’s easy to forget in the past 15 years how much protection the quarterbacks have today compared to the past. That 7th frame of the second sack really shows how much guys would lift and then drive a QB into the ground.

      Thanks for the great post.

      • ACViking

        So right. And that was the Vet’s concrete carpet. (Staubach bounced right up and kept playing.)

        Today, I’d wager that in addition to a 15-yard penalty Wynn would be ejected and suspended.

        • Tumtum

          They probably both had concussions. That wasn’t pretty!

    • Tumtum

      High tech stuff AC, looks like he plays with his hair on fire. Sure he was well loved.

    • Jamie Parker

      It’s really cool to watch these old games from the 70’s in real time action and some highlight reel. Just watched the AFCCG from 1973 between the Dolphins and Raiders. I never realized Bob Griese had wheels like that. And I remember watching Stabler, but never in his prime.

  • Insomniac

    It was a down year for sacks last year statistically.

    Lets look at the big 3 pass rushers before the 2015 season. JJ Watt, Justin Houston, and Robert Quinn were pretty much solidified as the top 3 pass rushers when they piled up 30+ sacks in 2 years. All three guys have been plagued by injuries and only Watt has played full seasons since. So lets say the average amount of sacks to qualify as a great pass rusher is just 12 sacks, those three guys were putting up to 19+ sacks at their best. That’s a difference of 21+ sacks total or 7+ sacks individually at minimum. Statistically, that’s like Brandon Graham/Jadeveon Clowney sack numbers which is insane because we know how good those two are.

    If we want to go back a few more years (2012-2015), Scumbag Greg Hardy put up pretty good sack numbers as well and then karma hit him so hard that he deservedly disappeared from the NFL. Aldon Smith looked like he would be the next big star pass rusher but we knew what happened to him. The previous sack monsters like Jared Allen and Demarcus Ware reached the end of their twilight years as well in 2015. So injuries, age, natural selection, and passing of the torch might just have some affect on the current trend of sacks declining.

    Lets not discount the increase of athleticism in OTs too. I don’t think the league has ever seen OTs as athletic as like Lane and Terron Armstead before. JP, Tyron Smith, and Trent Williams are also freaks. Usually pass rushers are just so much more athletic than the OL. That’s not really the case anymore now that some OTs are that athletic.

    • Guy Media

      “Lets not discount the increase of athleticism in OTs too.”

      I’d rather focus on the sickening level of holding certain OTs, like Trent WIlliams especially, commit on a frequent basis. Williams constantly has a fully extended arm away from his body clothesline holding the DE by the neck; yet it’s NEVER called.

    • Tumtum

      I think the majority of Tommy’s reasoning for it is that last paragraph. I would have to agree.

      Probably add that since Reggie’s era guys are probably playing far fewer snaps. So they have a little bit of that Cal Ripken difference between today’s players.

  • daveH

    Let’s talk about sacks baby
    ..
    Another deep Tommy joke i finally got after my 3rdd read