The DC Times

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By Jonathan Bales

Can Anthony Spencer total 12 sacks in 2013?

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At Dallas News, I analyzed whether or not Anthony Spencer can reach his projected total of 12 sacks this season.

The Numbers

Spencer rushed the passer on 318 snaps in 2012. Compare that to 454 for DeMarcus Ware. Based on pass-rushing rates for other 4-3 defensive ends around the league, Spencer is probably in store for around 500 opportunities to bring down the quarterback in 2013—a substantial jump over previous years.

In 2012, Spencer had 27 pressures and his 11 sacks represented 40.7 percent of that total. I’ve found that sack rates tend to hover closer to 25 percent over the long run, meaning Spencer got lucky to record 11 sacks last season.

However, Spencer has traditionally pressured the quarterback more than 27 times. Over the last three seasons, Spencer’s pressure rate is 7.9 percent, i.e. he’s pressured the quarterback about once every 13 snaps that he’s rushed.

With those numbers, it’s pretty easy to project Spencer’s 2013 sack total. With 500 snaps as a rusher, Spencer should pressure the quarterback around 40 times (500 * 7.9 percent). If he converts one-quarter of those pressures into sacks, he’s looking at 10 sacks.

What I Like

Spencer’s primary strength is his run defense. He’s been one of the league’s premiere run defenders for years, racking up 158 solo tackles since 2010. He played 1,122 snaps against the run, representing a 14.1 percent tackle rate.

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