Are DeMarcus Ware’s best days behind him?
At Dallas News, I posted my 2012 grade for DeMarcus Ware.
Ware’s value to the Cowboys can’t be understated; he still commands double-teams as much as anyone in football. Nonetheless, Ware posted the third-lowest sack total and lowest number of tackles (56) of his entire career. More important, Ware’s efficiency marks were down as well. Below, I’ve charted Ware’s tackle and pressure rates over the past four seasons.
Ware made a tackle on 14.8 percent of his run snaps in 2012—way down from in previous seasons. Ware’s pressure rate of 6.8 percent is also down quite a bit—over 25 percent from just one year prior. The numbers match up pretty well with what we see on film; Ware didn’t reach the passer nearly as often as in previous seasons, and he occasionally failed to get off of blocks. Let’s not forget that Ware also gets flagged quite a bit. He led the defense with seven penalties in 2012, and that number is actually down from nine in 2011.
None of this is to say that Ware is suddenly an average pass-rusher. He’s still one of the best in the game; don’t forget that the outside linebacker (and now defensive end) was hampered by injuries for much of the season. Ware has never missed a game, but he was out for over 15 percent of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps in 2012. That’s not a good thing, of course—likely a reflection of Ware’s age catching up with him.