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Cowboys OLB Anthony Spencer Is A Tackling Machine

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No more "Almost" Anthony in 2012?
No more "Almost" Anthony in 2012?

Over the last three years, no other player has recorded more tackles from the edge rusher spot than Anthony Spencer.

Not one.

ProFootballFocus yesterday took a look at the tackle numbers for edge rushers over the last three years. They combined 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends to produce their list of ‘edge rushers’ and Anthony Spencer leads all NFL edge rushers with 185 tackles over the last three years.

No edge rusher has made more tackles over the past three years than the Cowboys’ Anthony Spencer. The Dallas defender gets criticized for failing to deliver big sack numbers opposite DeMarcus Ware, but a closer look reveals Spencer does bring pressure, and is an extremely active and effective player against the run.

Over the past three seasons he has notched 162 solo tackles and 23 assists and earned a +35.2 PFF grade for his work in the run game. Spencer may never be the player Dallas fans want him to be, but it would be a mistake to write him off as inadequate; he is a solid performer in all areas of the game.

More after the jump...

Over the same three-year period, DeMarcus Ware 'only' has 126 total tackles. Of course, over the last three years, DeMarcus Ware has 46 sacks to Anthony Spencer's 17, and Cowboys fans would have gladly given up a couple of tackles in favor of a few more sacks for Spencer. But outside of his sack numbers, Spencer is quite and quietly effective at doing what the Cowboys ask of their strongside linebacker: As the SOLB, one of his roles is to play the run, and he does a pretty good job of keeping the running backs inside the tackles.

He's also the guy tasked with dropping into coverage against tight ends as well as shutting down the flats when a running back sneaks out. Last season, Anthony Spencer led all SOLBs in tackles, forced fumbles, tackles for loss and tied for second in QB hits. Strange as this may sound, Spencer was the best linebacker after Sean Lee in coverage. Coupled with the fact that Spencer is also one of the best Cowboys linebackers at stopping the run, this is a clear indictment of how poor the Cowboys inside linebacker position was last year.

With Bruce Carter and Dan Connor now on board at ILB, there is hope that this year Spencer will have more opportunities to do what he was drafted to do and what he's now being handsomely paid to do: get after the QB.