By Shawn S. Lealos
DeMarcus Ware finished the Dallas Cowboys Week 3 game with the St. Louis Rams with two sacks and two other quarterback hits. What was just another day at the office for the big Cowboys defensive end was a record setting performance. With the two sacks, Ware now has 115 sacks in his career, passing Harvey Martin as the Cowboys all-time leading sack specialist.
While the NFL has only recorded sacks since 1982, the Cowboys kept track of their own sack leaders long before that. Before 1982, the Cowboys had names like Randy White, Harvey Martin and Ed “Too Tall” Jones terrorizing quarterbacks. Ware now has more sacks than any of those players, as well as the dominant defenders of the 90s like Charles Haley.
Before 2012, Martin (114), White (111) and Jones (106) were the top of the leader board. Heading into the 2013 season, Ware was tied with White for second place, and now he has passed Martin. He still has a long way to go to reach the 200 sacks that Bruce Smith accumulated throughout his career, but at his level of play, it is a possibility.
There was a funny bet that Jerry Jones made with former Cowboys coach and NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells when they drafted Ware. According to Jones, if Ware didn’t average a certain number of sacks a season, Parcells would get five rides a year on Jones’ personal jet. Jones said that every time that Ware picks up a sack, he thinks more about that bet.
The season that Dallas drafted Ware, he finished with eight sacks. Since that time, he has never missed a game due to injury and has averaged no less than 11 sacks in a season. His best year was in 2008 when he finished the season with 20 sacks, although he almost achieved it again in 2011 with 19.5.
In 2012, former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan promised a change in defensive philosophy that meant that Ware would be more dangerous than ever. It backfired as the strong defensive lineman finished with 11.5 sacks, his lowest numbers since 2009. He also had a low 33 tackles for the season. With the arrival of Monte Kiffin and the change back to a 4-3 defense in 2013, big things might be in store for Ware.
He now has seven tackles in three games to go along with four sacks, a tie for fourth best in the NFL. If he keeps up at this pace, Ware will end up with 21 sacks on the season. The record holder is Michael Strahan with 22.5 sacks.
While the Week 4 opponent San Diego Chargers rank 12th in the NFL in passing offense, Philip Rivers has been sacked five times in three games, so this is one game that Dallas needs DeMarcus Ware to be at the top of his game.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.