The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: Can DeMarcus Ware Break Sack Record?

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Jonathan Bales

My latest post at DallasCowboys.com takes a look at DeMarcus Ware’s chances of breaking the single-season sack record in 2012. Using Ware’s historic pressure and sack rates, I deduce just how likely the Pro Bowl outside linebacker is to rack up 23 sacks this season. It turns out it isn’t that unlikely.

If Ware matches his current sack rate of 28.9 percent this season, he’ll need to garner 80 pressures to sack the quarterback a league-record 23 times. Ware is an absolute monster at outside linebacker and there’s a small possibility he can generate that many pressures, but it’s highly, highly unlikely. As a comparison, a player has acquired 54 or more pressures only six times over the past four seasons, per Pro Football Focus. One-third of them were from Ware.

So it appears that for Ware to break the sack record, he’ll need to post a higher sack rate than his 28.9 percent mark from the past three years. In effect, even a player as dominant as Ware needs to get a little bit lucky in order to break an all-time single-season record.

A more appropriate way to determine Ware’s chances of surpassing 22.5 sacks is to project his pressures, then figure out the sack rate he would need to break the record.

Taking Ware’s pass-rush history and the team’s 2012 schedule into account, I think 54 pressures is a solid projection for Ware. That’s seven more than he generated last season, but two less than in 2009 and 2010. Remember, only a handful of pass-rushers have forced that sort of pressure over the past few years, so the fact that Ware is likely to be in that range is astounding.

With 54 pressures, Ware’s 2012 sacks would need to add up to 42.6 percent of his pressures. At a career mark of 28.9 percent, that’s quite a ways off. But just how unlikely is it? Ware actually put up a 41.5 percent sack rate last season, so it isn’t inconceivable.

Head over to the team site to find out what percentage chance I give Ware to break the record.

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2 Responses to Running the Numbers: Can DeMarcus Ware Break Sack Record?

  1. bW says:

    good stuff as usual JB.

    couple of questions:

    1. In your opinion, do you think the improved (on paper) secondary might increase Ware’s pressures/sacks?

    2. Would you happen to have Jarred Allen’s numbers for this since he was the closest to beating the record last year at 22?

  2. Thanks. I don’t think it will hurt at all, but I don’t think it will affect Ware’s sacks like some people think. Coverage sacks are extremely rare as it is.

    Allen’s pressures over the past three years: 34, 42, and 35. The 34 pressures came last season, so he’s actually been REALLY lucky with his sack totals. I don’t have the standard deviation of his pressure, but I can’t imagine he’s anywhere near Ware’s 8% chance of breaking the record. Perhaps he’s superior to bringing down the quarterback once he’s there, but I can’t imagine he’s that much better than Ware.

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