last year with his 10 sacks, all of two more than Ware totaled having to convert to a position Merriman was much more familiar with thanks to his college days.
But where has Merriman landed these days? On the NFL suspended list for testing positive for steroids, leaving him still with 8½ sacks this year, ranked second in the AFC. Ware, well he now leads the Cowboys with 6½ sacks, but wonder how many times Merriman is asked to line up in the slot over a receiver and then come up with game-saving coverages?
You know, though, never mind all that. Doesn't matter. For you to better understand what Ware has done so far in his first 26 NFL games, let's revert to a little Cowboys history. You guys can identify with that.
OK, with six games still left in Ware's second year, he has totaled 14½ sacks so far, and while learning a new position.
Well guess what, and understand sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982, so what you will read next must be put in its proper context. The most sacks recorded by a Cowboys player in his first two years in the NFL belong to Harvey Martin, totaling 15½ in 1973-74. Think D-Ware can get one more sack in six games to match that? Come on now, that's Harvey Martin.
But wait, there is more. The next two on this list would be Larry Cole (1968-69) and Willie Townes (1966-67), both with 15, and again, unofficially.
So think about it: With just another 1½ sacks, Ware will become the first player in Cowboys history to record at least 16 sacks in his first two seasons. Not bad, eh?
And really not bad when you also consider his total already is more than Jim Jeffcoat (13½), Randy White (11), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (8½), Tony Tolbert (8), Greg Ellis (10½), Jimmie Jones (9½), Danny Noonan (8) and Ebenezer Ekuban (8½).
Plus, he is four sacks short - and finished just 2½ short last year - of Anthony Dickerson's club record for most sacks (10½) by a Cowboys linebacker set in 1983.
And you know, I'm guessing Harvey Martin never was asked to jump into the slot in coverage. And I know darn well White never was, either, not to mention Jeffcoat and Cole and Townes. No way Too Tall.
So instead of bemoaning Ware having fewer sacks than Merriman, exalt Ware's numbers, what they are, and very well what they might be before this classy kid's career comes to an end. Which by the way, please factor that in - Ware being one of the most humble, team-oriented guys on a defense loaded with team oriented guys.
Because after all, being a first-round pick, he could very well have balked at being asked to jump into coverage by head coach Bill Parcells. Come on, they don't pay defensive ends to cover. They pay for sacks. Sort of like why NBA players have problems shooting at least 75 percent from the free-throw line. You don't get on SportsCenter or get paid for making free throws, so why work at that?
So lighten up and appreciate what you are seeing from D-Ware. And truth be known, Ware has only scratched the surface of his talent at this linebacker position from which he transitions to defensive end on the nickel. He's asked to do so much.
And the beauty?
He has the Ware-withal to get it done.