"It's not just sacks, but you got to be able to affect the quarterback somehow."
This is what new Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Line Coach Todd Wash said in his press conference last week. This is most certainly true and I'm sure Wash would be satisfied with pressure that led to defensive stops on third down and low-scores from the Jaguars opposition, even if sack numbers were low.
For fans following the Jaguars since their inception, this may not be good enough anymore. The idea that the number of sacks aren't as important as affecting the quarterback, though possibly true, is the kind of thing that gets discussed by teams with low sack numbers. Nobody heard Houston's JJ Watt and his 20.5 sacks talking along these lines in 2012. When a team has sack numbers in large quantities, opposing quarterbacks are affected and so are the offensive coordinators that have to form a game plan against that team.
One of the scariest things to an offensive game planner is a dominant player that can rack up double-digit sack numbers in a year. Reaching double-digits is a benchmark of sorts for pass rushers. If a player can reach 10 sacks or more in a year, he can expect national recognition and a large contract in his future. It's commonly accepted that reaching 10 sacks or more is a difficult thing to accomplish.
If you are the Jacksonville Jaguars this is definitely true.
You see, Jaguars fans keep hearing rationalizations because they have only had a player with 10 or more sacks in three of their eighteen seasons.
Finding these guys is hard but 29 teams have done a better job than the Jaguars since 1995. Only Cincinnati and Cleveland have had fewer seasons with a double-digit sacker, with 2 seasons each. All the other teams in the NFL have had 4 or more seasons that included double-digit sack performances in that time span. (Cleveland has only had a team in 15 of the last 18 seasons, however.) When looking for pass rushers, the Jaguars have a long history of picking the wrong guy.
Good news is here, Jaguars fans, because the best place to find these pass rushers is at the top of the draft.
The 2011 draft produced pass rushers Von Miller (#2 overall) and Aldon Smith (#7 overall) and have combined for 63.5 sacks in 2 years.
In 2008 Chris Long (#2 overall) was drafted and has produced, but fellow top 10 picks Vernon Gholston (#6 overall) and Derrick Harvey (#8 overall) were draft busts.
Even some defensive tackles recently drafted in the top 10 have sacked the quarterback like Ndamukong Suh and Marcell Dareus.
This year there is a lot of talk about defensive line talent in the draft. A look around the internet finds least 7 linemen or pass rushing linebackers thought to have a chance to be top 10 picks:
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
There are probably other players that could vault to the top of draft boards with good showings at the Scouting Combine and individual workouts.
Some of these players are going to become the kind of pass rushing, quarterback-affecting players the Jaguars and all other 31 teams covet. Some will probably be big disappointments.
The pass rusher the Jaguars have needed for years is sitting there for the taking. Kansas City probably won't even take one of these guys off the board, All that's left is for Dave Caldwell to make the right pick.
It sounds easy.
If this was a golf match, Dave Caldwell would be walking up to the green to sink a 2-foot putt with this pick.
By the way, that's me in the crowd shouting, "Get in the hole!"