There's no denying that this has been a rough week for the Miami Dolphins and their fans. Their ugly home loss to the Browns was tough to swallow and severely crippled the team's already slim playoff hopes. Of course that means that the week has been filled with negativity and hostility.
There's no question that I've probably been feeding the negative vibe that has surrounded this organization this week. But a loss at home to the Browns will do that.
But it's time to put an end to the negativity, at least for one day, by highlighting the one huge bright spot that has shined brightly through this dark season. His name is Cameron Wake - and he's simply become a monster at outside linebacker.
In just his second season with the Dolphins, the former CFL star has taken the league by storm and now should be a virtual lock to attend his first Pro Bowl (which you can still vote on by clicking here). But I actually have bigger things in mind in terms of 2010 honors for Wake. No, I'm not talking Defensive Player of the Year - though I'm sure you could make a case for Wake being in the top ten. I'm talking about first-team All-Pro honors for pass-rushing beast.
The All-Pro team is always a fascinating award to digest. It's really the highest position-by-position honor a player can earn. In Wake's case, only two outside linebackers are chosen - and the competition is stiff.
But Cameron's numbers are insanely impressive and worthy of serious consideration. Sure, he leads the NFL in sacks with twelve - a half-sack more than Clay Matthews. But when you dig a little bit deeper, you then really start to understand Wake's dominance this season.
Football Outsiders had a great piece last week that highlighted some interesting pass-rushing metrics. They revealed the results of their pass-rush game charting through the first ten weeks of the season - highlighting two key metrics. The first was "quarterback hurries." The second was "holding penalties drawn."
Wake placed in the top two of both metrics.
His 23 QB hurries trailed only Chris Long while his seven holding penalties drawn tied him with Brian Orakpo for first.
Football Outsiders also provided the league leaders in quarterback hits (counting plays where the defender knocked the QB to the ground but did not record a sack) through the first twelve weeks of the season. Wake's ten hits ranked him in a tie for seventh place in the league, four hits behind league leader Julius Peppers.
Of course, rushing the quarterback isn't an outside linebacker's only job. They also must defend the run well - something people questioned about Wake heading into the season. But if you've watched all twelve Dolphin games, then you have seen with your own eyes that Wake has become an excellent edge setter and run stuffer.
The statistical proof of that comes courtesy of STATS LLC, who show Wake listed second among all defenders in the league with ten tackles for loss (sacks obviously not included) - just one behind league leader Chad Greenway.
So let's combine all of these numbers to see what they tell us.
First of all, no player in the NFL has made more total tackles behind the line of scrimmage than Cameron Wake, who has a combined 22 sacks and TFLs. Compare that figure with media darling Clay Matthews, who may have 11.5 sacks but only has three additional tackles for loss.
But when we're talking about the All-Pro vote, we have to factor in the unfortunate truth that those who vote on it will favor certain players simply because of their name. That means Wake's stiffest competition will likely be Clay Matthews, James Harrison, Terrell Suggs, and DeMarcus Ware.
But when I added up all of the impact plays these players have made thus far, nobody could even touch the pure dominance of Cameron Wake so far this year. To define "impact plays," I simply added up all of the key stats that these outside linebackers have accumulated. Those stats I looked at were sacks, tackles for loss, QB hurries, QB hits, holding penalties drawn, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, pass deflections, and interceptions.
Cameron Wake accounted for 68 such plays. The next closest was James Harrison with 58.5, followed by Clay Matthews and Terrell Suggs both down in the mid 40s.
What more proof do you need?
Cameron Wake should be named to the 2010 All-Pro team. It's that simple.