In the Hall of Fame career of DeMarcus Ware, he has been one of the most dominate players in the league when it comes to sacking the quarterback. Throughout his time in Dallas, Ware has played as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme on the weak side.
Opposite Ware has been Anthony Spencer who has manned the position as the Sam linebacker on the strong side which primary responsibility is to control the tight end front side and drop in coverage to handle the flat or inside routes. There were times where Spencer did get the opportunity to rush the quarterback out of the nickel package and for two seasons, shown he can more than provide enough pressure when given the chance.
With the switch in scheme from the 3-4 to the 4-3, there is also a switch for Spencer and what his job now entails. Like Ware, he will have his hand on the ground which takes him back to his days while at Purdue. Where Spencer is similar to Ware in his ability to rush, is his explosive quickness. Spencer can attack the blocker with unique suddenness.
Over the years, he has developed an array of pass rush moves all while working his way to the quarterback. It is rare where you see him get stopped as he is going up the field. He plays with some upper body power and when he gets his hands inside, he can walk a tackle back. Spencer also for his size, doesn't give the blocker much of a hitting surface. He has the ability to dip and dodge again, all while working toward the quarterback.
If you look at DeMarcus Ware's work over the past four seasons, he has averaged 14.5 sacks a year. Last season was probably his most difficult because of the injuries that he had to fight through just to finish out the year. Anthony Spencer has never had more than 11 sacks in a season and he did that in 14 games as a part time rusher last year.
If anyone will benefit from this scheme change to the 4-3 and the style in which it is played, its Anthony Spencer. As much of the attention of opposing offenses will be focused on Ware and how to keep him from destroying plays with his rush from the edge, Spencer will be locked up facing either a rookie right tackle (Giants, Chiefs and Chargers) or facing single blocks the majority of the game. Where Spencer is at his best is when he can work one-on-one and he should get that opportunity plenty.
Since 2005, DeMarcus Ware has either lead or been tied for the team lead in sacks which is a remarkable feat. In this new scheme, there is no doubt that he will be given that opportunity to keep that streak intact but this is my bold prediction. When we sit back and reflect on how the season went for this Cowboys defense, Anthony Spencer will have more sacks than DeMarcus Ware.
I project an outstanding battle between the two but with the factors of Ware facing more teams trying to [embedded_ad] stop him scheme wise, a better blocker to his side as well and the fact that Spencer no longer has to play in space as a linebacker and he gets the opportunity to rush the passer full time, his production and numbers will flourish to a whole new level.