Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware is entering legendary territory, and it has been somewhat under the radar.
If it’s possible to quietly rack up 108½ sacks midway through one’s eighth season, Ware has done it. He has not missed a game since entering the NFL in 2005, and is one sack away from his 10th sack of the 2012 season. That would give Ware seven consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks — and he just turned 30 years old; Ware is far from done.
Around the league, Ware is well known as one of the elite edge rushers, but he doesn’t necessarily carry the fame of Clay Matthews, he doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring like Jason Pierre-Paul and he is not as outspoken as Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs.
This is another reminder, though, of how good Ware has been in getting after the quarterback. His 100½ sacks since 2006 are the most in the NFL. Nobody is within even 30 sacks of Ware’s total during that span except Vikings DE Jared Allen — who has 92 sacks since ’06 and needs 2½ sacks for his sixth consecutive season of 10 sacks or more. No other player is approaching a streak of more than four seasons if Allen gets to 10 sacks in 2012.
The group of players with seven or more consecutive seasons of recording at least 10 sacks is a select group of Hall-of-Fame pass rushers. Here is a look at the small group. Note: Sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
1. DE Reggie White / nine seasons / 1985-93 — The former career sack record-holder, White opened his NFL career with 13 sacks in 13 games as a rookie for the Eagles in 1985. That started an NFL-record nine consecutive campaigns of double-digit sacks. From 1985-93, White recorded 137 of his 198 career sacks. He led the league by a margin of 8½ sacks with 21 in 1987 — tied for the fourth-highest season total ever, which he accomplished in just 12 games. He then led the league again in 1988 with 18 sacks. In 1993, after signing a free-agent contract with Green Bay to become the league’s highest-paid defender, White had 13 sacks in his first season as a Packer, but the streak ended the next year with eight sacks. During his nine-year sack streak, White was named first-team All-Pro six times and made the Pro Bowl in eight of the nine seasons.
2. DL John Randle / eight seasons / 1992-99 — Randle, who played his first 11 seasons with the Vikings and finished his career with three seasons in Seattle, had only one sack as a rookie, but two years later he began his reign of collecting double-digit sacks. He had 11½ sacks in 1992 to start the streak, and in the eight-season span, he had 95½ of his 137½ career sacks. In 1997, Randle’s 15½ sacks led the NFL. He also didn’t miss a game in the eight seasons and was named a first-team All-Pro each season from 1993-98. Randle’s eight sacks in 2000 ended the streak. He had one more double-digit sack season, with 11 in ’01 in his first season with the Seahawks.
T-3. DE Bruce Smith / seven seasons / 1992-98 — The NFL’s all-time sack leader tallied double-digit sacks in 13 of his 19 seasons — the first 15 of which were played in Buffalo — and had a five-year streak of double-digit sacks from 1986-90, but knee issues kept him out of 11 games in 1991 and he had only 1½ sacks. His seven-year sacks streak began in ’92, and he picked up 86 of his 200 career sacks from 1992-98. He also made the Pro Bowl in each of those seven seasons, and was a first-team All-Pro from 1993-97. Smith’s production dropped to seven sacks in 1999, and he had one more double-digit sack season left, getting 10 in 2000, his first year with the Redskins.
T-3. LB Lawrence Taylor / seven seasons / 1984-1990 — Taylor’s rookie season, 1981, was the last year that sacks were not a statistic kept by the league. And the Pro Football Hall of Famer might have played a role in the league making sacks an official stat. He notched 7½ sacks in the strike-shortened 1982 season and nine in ’83. The streak began with 11½ sacks in 1984. In the seven seasons of his double-digit streak, Taylor had 98 of his 132½ career sacks. Taylor led the league in 1986 with 20½ sacks, which was second all-time at the time and is now ranked sixth. Taylor began his NFL career by making the Pro Bowl in his first 10 NFL seasons, including all seven seasons in which he collected double-digit sacks. He was an All-Pro in five of the seasons during the streak.