Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Could Panthers break NFL sack record for a season?

In 2013, the Carolina Panthers set a team record with 60 sacks in a single season.

In 2014, is it possible the Panthers could set the all-time NFL record in the same category?

One member of the Panther defense said so publicly on Tuesday, becoming the first player to verbalize the goal.

"We set the bar pretty high last year, leading the league with 60 sacks," defensive tackle Colin Cole said to reporters. "The goal is to surpass that and see if we can't get up with the big dogs of the past years. We want to set records. We did as a franchise, we want to do it across the league."

I asked Cole then if he knew what the league record was. He didn't know which team had set it, but had a pretty good idea where the target would be. "What I do know is that the overall league record for sacks in a year was somewhere up in the mid-70s," Cole said. "For us as a defensive line, that's where our goal is. And maybe that's just me talking on my behalf, but if you don't shoot for the stars, you'll never reach the moon."

The actual team sack record: 72 sacks in 1984, by the fearsome Chicago Bears. That team didn't win the Super Bowl that year, but did so the next season with basically the same nucleus. Panther coach Ron Rivera was a reserve linebacker on that '84 Bears team but did not have any sacks that season.

It sounds simple in one respect for the Panthers to get to 73. One additional sack per game would do it and in fact get them to 76. But in reality, this is an almost impossible goal. NFL quarterbacks throw the ball on three-step drops so often these days that even an unblocked pass rusher sometimes has trouble getting to the quarterback.

Carolina would need double-digit sack seasons once again from Greg Hardy (15 in 2013) and Charles Johnson (11), but likely with both increasing their totals by at least three apiece. They would almost assuredly need a third double-digit sacker to emerge as well.

And then the Panthers would need some breakout sack performances from young players like rookie Kony Ealy or defensive tackle K.K. Short, as well as enough offense from Cam Newton and company that Carolina was playing with double-digit leads in a lot of fourth quarters and piling up sack numbers that way as teams were forced to throw deep passes that made the quarterbacks hold the ball longer in one-dimensional attacks.

Notice I said "nearly impossible," but not completely. This Panther defense was No.2 in the NFL last season and its front seven returns basically intact. It has loads of potential. It would be foolish to say this is completely out of the question.

But 73 sacks?! That works out to more than 4.5 sacks per game. There's a reason that record has stood for almost 30 years -- 72 is an incredibly high number. Ultimately, I don't think the Panthers will get there or really get anywhere close to it. But it will be a lot of fun to see them try.


Anonymous said...

Short answer. No.

Nachos said...

Are you a sports reporter or the fan club President? I am all for drumming up support for the home team, but this type of fluff article gives credence to the claim that your staff is biased. You are supposed to be impartial. Yes our D is solid, very good in fact. But on the other hand, we will have one of the leagues worst offenses this season. We will struggle big time to score in each game. Why not address the real issues instead of deflection?

Anonymous said...

Colin Cole should keep his mouth shut...considering all the sacks and defensive snaps he played last year and all...

Anonymous said...

about as possible as hardy getting 50 sacks in a season.

only 3 times in the last 10 seasons has a team hit 60 with 61 being the high. it's statistically improbable that they get 60 again this year.

Garth Vader said...

Unlikely. Those mid-80s Bears defenses put eight men in the box, and sent blitzers from everywhere: LB Mike Singletary & Otis Wilson, CB Leslie Frazier & Mike Richardson, S Gary Fencik and Dave Duerson in addition to the DEs Dan Hampton and Richard Dent. Even the tackles recorded sacks because the blitzes collapsed the pockets so effectively.

John said...

"But in reality, this is an almost impossible goal."

Maybe unlikely, but you can bet the same thing was said in 1983, before that record was set.

Anonymous said...

Scott Says...the obvious, never anything though provoking. The average fan knows the content of your articles before we even read them.

Don't be an empty suit Scott. Plus, no one wants to see your Joe Buck smile.

Bennett Andrews said...

The front seven returns nearly intact? It returns completely intact, with another young pass rusher and more experienced young defensive tackles. The secondary will be far better I believe, forcing the other team to hold the ball longer. I see 75 as a very reachable number.

joe said...

Barner looks to be in over his head...We should of somehow kept Ginn cause I do not see his replacement yet....O-line where is the run blocking our first team D got it handed to them other than the goal line stop...Anyone agree????

Anonymous said...

Long answer! No