ESPN.com NFC East blogger Matt Mosley said in an entry yesterday that the Cowboys made the right decision in drafting Ware over Merriman.
Of course being a Cowboys fan I agree with his assessment, but the only way to truly find out is to simply break down the numbers.
Shawne Merriman, better known as “Lights Out,” was drafted by the Chargers out of Maryland 5 years ago. So far he has amassed an impressive total of 39.5 sacks, his career high coming in 2006 when he notched 17.
That was also the same year that Merriman tested positive for steroids and missed four games, dashing any hopes of breaking the all time sack record.
Delving deeper into Merriman’s stats, in 2007 he had an imposing six sacks in the month of December. If you can recall, that’s the year that the Chargers went to the AFC Championship to face the Patriots.
Shawne had an ok showing in the playoffs that season where he totaled 13 tackles and one sack. However he did have a game or two where he had four or five tackles where he wasn’t really noticeable.
Within the AFC, Merriman does his best work against the Kansas City Chiefs where he sacked their main signal caller four times and had 16 tackles in 2007.
Shawne missed all of last season with a knee injury, which will probably take him at least a season and a half to fully recover from. Will his sack totals decrease due to lack of burst off the line?
Shawne has never had over 70 tackles in a season, so will his tackle total suffer as well?
At first look it seems as if the Chargers were right in their choice. Merriman has a motor that never quits and gives 110% on the field.
However there is a cloud of deceit around his true abilities. Did the steroids contribute to the 17 sacks or was it just pure strength and skill?
Moving on to DeMarcus Ware.
He was drafted the same year as Merriman out of Troy in southeast Alabama.
Ware had his best statistical output last year as he had 20 sacks, 84 tackles, and 6 forced fumbles. He also had 84 tackles in 2004 coupled with 14 sacks.
Ware has more career sacks than Shawne with 53. But to Ware’s advantage, Merriman was injured all of last season.
DeMarcus seems to do his best work against the Giants of New York. Last season he had 12 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
Ware also remains consistent as the game progresses. Like Merriman he has 6 sacks in the fourth quarter, but Ware has more tackles than Shawne during the final period amassing 17.
Another situational stat shows that Ware has 3 sacks on 3rd and long, forcing the team opposing into an obvious 4th and long situation.
Merriman on the other hand had no sacks and only 1 tackle on 3rd and long in 2007.
Comparing these two players is like appraising the abilities of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. The thing about Jordan and Johnson is that there is one player that is better than the other. You know the one with 6 championship rings?
Well, that’s kind of like Ware and Merriman without any rings between the two.
Over and above Ware just seems to be the better overall player. He tackles, shows up in crucial situations, and had 20 sacks through an injury riddled season.
Both players will prove to be great by the end of their career. But at this moment in time, who would you choose? The player with the knee injury or the guy with 20 sacks?
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