|Is 25 sacks in a season a possibility? (Getty Images)|
While much of the media criticism has been directed at quarterback Tony Romo, there's been a big offseason push by the Cowboys to improve the defense. Cornerback Terence Newman was dumped, Brandon Carr was signed to a $50 million deal, and the team traded up in the first round of the April draft to grab Morris Claiborne.
Last season's Week 4 implosion against the Lions was a microcosm of the Cowboys' problems -- on both sides of the ball. Romo threw two pick-sixes and Newman was Calvin Johnson's personal punching back right up to the point where Johnson caught the game-winner over a helpless Newman.
But it's not just the quarterback and secondary that need to get better; there's a case to be made that everybody could stand to ratchet up the intensity a notch or two if Dallas is going to avoid another disappointing season. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is more than happy to do his part. Already one of the league's best pass rushers (CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco ranked him third in his list of the NFL's top 100 players), Ware plans to improve on his 19.5 sacks from a season ago.
Told recently that Vikings sack master Jared Allen had identified Ware as one of the few players capable of reaching 25 sacks in a season, the Cowboys linebacker responded thusly (via the Dallas Morning News): “With that coming from Jared Allen, who had 22 last year, the sky's the limit. I'll also flip it back on him, and say, he can do the same thing, and also, Jason Babin. They're playing really well. But it's all about how the season goes. If it's more of a passing season, we're probably going to have more sacks.”
Which brings us back to Dallas' two biggest offseason acquisitions: cornerbacks Carr and Claiborne. The better the coverage on the back end, the more sacks for Ware, right?
“I wouldn't say help my sack total, I'd say it's going to help the pressure up front,” he said. “A lot of guys are playing really well: Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff. It's going to give us a little bit more time to get to the quarterback.”
Michael Strahan holds the single-season sack record with 22.5. He accomplished the feat in 2001. Allen managed 22 last season and as the NFL continues to evolve into a pass-first league, Ware's probably right: the more often a quarterback drops back, the better the chance he'll be sacked. And using that logic, not only could Strahan's record be in jeopardy, but 25 sacks over 16 games becomes a real possibility, too.
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