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Sat., Apr. 30, 2016 11:00 AM CDT
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With Sack Totals Up, Spencer Said His Approach Is Same
IRVING, Texas – With two games left to play, Anthony Spencer has already surpassed his career-high for sacks in a season.
With 10 sacks, a team-high 92 tackles, and occasionally having to make the defensive calls with so many injuries to the inside linebackers, it’s easy to suggest Spencer is having the best season of his career by far.
But Spencer himself isn’t so sure about that.
For years, we’ve heard Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, current defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and even former head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips tell us that sacks isn’t the only way to measure success from pass-rushers.
So just because it’s now going his way, Spencer isn’t ready to say he’s playing much better this year compared to others.
“I’m turning my pressures into sacks,” Spencer said. “It’s not like I’m doing anything too much different than I’ve done the last couple of years. They say they come in bunches. I’m just going to take them as I get them.”
Despite the rash of injuries on defense, Spencer said having a full training camp this year to learn Ryan’s scheme, has paved the way for a big improvement across the board.
“Everyone is now on the same page and knows the defense and being able to communicate,” Spencer said. “That has helped us so much with this defense.”
Spencer’s previous career-high for sacks in a season was six, which he had last year and in 2009. But just in the last six games alone, Spencer has totaled seven tackles, which includes at least a half-sack in every game but one.
Just like Dez Bryant has been exceptional in the last six games, it’s probably not a coincidence that Spencer has also elevated his game in this run, which includes a 5-1 record and current three-game winning streak.
“Right now, we’re just playing with a lot of confidence on the whole team,” Spencer said. “I think it feeds off each other. The offense does well and then we’ll make some plays. I just think we believe we’re going to get the job done and make enough plays to win.”
The guy Spencer will be chasing the most this Sunday is Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who said he can see Spencer’s progress on film, which now gives the Cowboys a pair of dynamic pass-rushers along with Ware.
“Yeah, he’s a stud. And he went to Purdue, so I would expect nothing less,” said Brees, a former Boilermaker himself, of Spencer. “He’s having a great year. Obviously, DeMarcus Ware gets so much of the credit and attention, which is deservedly so because he’s one of the best there is, but I think Anthony Spencer has had a tremendous season and he’s a guy that you have to have a plan for, too. It’s not like you can put all of your attention on DeMarcus and not worry about the other guy. The other guy can change the game just like DeMarcus Ware can.”
Brees has noticed. Now the question is, have other teammates, coaches and fans felt the same enough to put him in the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. As an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the sack totals have to be high. But fortunately for Spencer, he not only ranks fourth among NFC linebackers with 10, but he’s also nearing 100 tackles as well.
So what would it mean for Spencer to get that Pro Bowl nod?
“I’d be very happy,” Spencer said. “I play this game to be good at it. It just shows that I’m doing something right.”
File that one in the understatement drawer. Read