Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said outside linebacker Anthony Spencer tends to draw more criticism from outsiders than he deserves because of his meager sack totals. His career high is six, set last season, and pales in comparison to the numbers posted from the other side by DeMarcus Ware (19.5 last season).
But Garrett said Spencer, who will play the 2012 season under an $8.8 million franchise tag, is appreciated for his other contributions by coaches and teammates.
“From a football standpoint, he is a darn good football player. And often times, like with a lot of statistics, people get enamored with the sacks statistics for outside linebackers,” Garrett said. “But there are different ways you can show up. Anthony has been a guy who shows up in a lot of different ways. He’s a very good run defender. I think he’s in the top five in the league at his position if you combine the pressures and the tackles for losses and the sacks and all those kind of things. So he shows up in the game. It’s certainly noticeable to us. I think he’s noticeable to the teams he’s playing against.”
Garrett, like Spencer, said he envisions an uptick in Spencer’s pass-rush production now that he’s playing in his second season under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, with an influx of new cornerbacks skilled in press coverage (Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr).
“We believe that getting better on the back end will help our pass rush guys get to the quarterback more,” Garrett said. “If (the quarterback) has to hold it a little bit more because we’re covering better, that gives those guys an opportunity.”
_ Jimmy Burch