(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Last week, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen—who led the NFL with 22 sacks last season—was asked how many sacks a player could record in one season. To which Allen responded, “I think 25 is possible. Somebody will eventually reach that, it will be reached one year.”
How about this year?
In 2011, four different players recorded more than 16 sacks. No player in the NFL recorded 16 sacks in 2010 and Denver’s Elvis Dumervil led the NFL with 17 in 2009 (Allen’s 14.5 were the second-most).
Times are changing — the league is becoming more pass happy and defenses are utilizing pass rushing specialists better than ever before, which has resulted in sack records becoming endangered. Allen believes 25 sacks in a season is possible, as does Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who recorded 19.5 sacks last season.
“The sky’s the limit,” Ware said last week. For Broncos’ second-year linebacker Von Miller, who notched 11.5 sacks in year one while battling an injured thumb, the sky seems to be the limit.
Last season, Miller and Dumervil combined to record 1.31 sacks a game (21 total). Three years ago, Dumervil, playing the position Miller now holds, was just six sacks away from 25. Six away may seem like a far number, but not when you consider all of the QB pressures that could have resulted in sacks and Dumervil’s ability to record four sacks in a single game.
Neither Miller nor Dumervil have commented on the possibility of 25 sacks in one season, but that’s only because we haven’t gotten the chance to ask them about it. In today’s NFL, the chances of Allen, Ware, Miller or New York’s Jason Pierre-Paul breaking the NFL’s record of 22.5 sacks seem to be increasing.
Looking to improve on his 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year season, Miller could potentially match or break Dumervil’s 2009 sack total. ”My competitive nature, it really makes us both better,” Miller said earlier in the year, referring to him and Dumervil racing to opposing quarterbacks.
“We’re always competing to see who can get to the quarterback first,” Dumervil added. ”When you have guys like that competing, it makes everyone better.”
Combining for 25 sacks would be a four-sack improvement for Von and Elvis from last season, but it ultimately wouldn’t satisfy the two pass rushers who are looking to build on their No. 18 and No. 9 overall sack rankings from 2011.
“We believe in our system,” Dumervil said. If Miller excels in Denver’s 4-3 outside linebacker system like Dumervil did in their 3-4 defense three years ago, 25 sacks could become a reality. Maybe not this season, but as Ware said, the sky’s the limit for the twenty-three-years-old Miller.
Weighing in at 245 pounds and running a forty yard dash in 4.49 seconds, Miller has all the tools to improve on his nearly one dozen sack season. Will he be able to double it?
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We asked fans on our Facebook page if 25 sacks was an attainable goal for Miller to reach within the next few seasons and the answer was a unanimous yes.