Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ware Keeps Tearing Up Opposing QBs


Name: DeMarcus Ware
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6-4, 257
Experience: Four seasons
College: Troy

Key stat: After a strong rookie campaign in 2005, in which he posted 8.0 sacks, Ware's production level has risen by steady increments each season. His sack total jumped to 11.5 in 2006, his first Pro Bowl appearance, then 14.0 in 2007, and finally 20.0 last season. Another such increase and Ware would pass Michael Strahan for the single-season sack record (22.5), a mark he was threatening late in 2008.

Contract Status: Entering final year.

2008 Impact: One could easily make the case that Ware was deserving of the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, which instead went to Pittsburgh's James Harrison, despite the Steelers linebacker having four fewer sacks. While voters around the league might have neglected Ware, the Cowboys aren't shorting their pass rush specialist, who tied a NFL record by posting a sack in 10 straight games dating back to 2007. The pressure Ware applies from the weak side is the main reason teammates Jay Ratliff, Bradie James and Greg Ellis were able to post good sack numbers, and why the Cowboys led the league in the category, getting to opposing quarterbacks 59 times.

Where He Fits: No reason to be modest here. If his current production rate holds, Ware's bust could be in Canton in another 15 years or so. He's that good, the best player on the Cowboys hands down. For the defense to live up to its ability, Ware is going to have to keep it up. Offenses have to pay attention to where he lines up on every play. And speaking of people paying Ware, he's in the final year of his rookie deal, and more than likely stands to cash in the largest contract for a defensive player in league history. It's only a matter of when the Cowboys and his representation can come to an agreement.

Writers Analysis:

Josh Ellis: Not only does Ware get after the passer, but he can also play the run and cover backs and tight ends about as well as any linebacker in the league. Ware is a model citizen, a true gentleman and one of the nicest guys in the league. If there's anything he needs to improve upon, and he says he plans to, it's taking on more of a leadership role in the locker room. Ware has always been a lead-by-example player, but with Greg Ellis on the way out, the door is open for No. 94 to make the defense his own.

Nick Eatman: You have to wonder how DeMarcus Ware can get any better. He's improved his sack totals four straight years and if he betters last year's 20 sacks, he'll probably set the NFL record that he was pursuing last season. Simply put, Ware is one of, if not the best defensive player in the league. His contract will probably suggest that when they eventually sign him. And yes, the Cowboys will re-sign him. But Ware is also the best player on the Cowboys team and they need him to play at that high level because it makes everyone around him better.