Barry Cofield, the Redskins’ always obliging nose tackle, pointed out something interesting the other day. “I think we’re tied for the league lead in sacks,” he said. “But we don’t have a lot of wins.”
He’s right – on both counts. With 31 sacks, Jim Haslett’s defense is tied with the Giants and Vikings for the most in the NFL. But the Redskins are also mired in a six-game losing streak that has dropped them to last in their division with a 3-7 record.
Strange, don’t you think? There should be a stronger correlation between sacks and success. In fact, there usually is a strong correlation between the two. But this year – so far, at least – two of the worst teams in the league, the Redskins and Vikings (2-8), share the lead with the Giants (6-4).
Is nothing sacred – not even the sack?
I just did some research. In the last 20 years, 21 clubs have led or tied for the lead in sacks. Here’s how they fared in those seasons:
Won Super Bowl: 2 (2007 Giants, ’99 Rams).
Lost Super Bowl: 2 (’10 Steelers, ’05 Seahawks).
Reached conference championship game: 11.
Won 12 or more games: 12.
Won division: 15 (plus 2 wild cards).
Missed playoffs: 4 (’08 Cowboys, ’98 Giants, ’97 Saints, ’91 Eagles).
Losing record: 1 (’97 Saints, who went 6-10).
In other words, in past two decades, if you led the league in sacks, you had about a 20 percent chance of going to the Super Bowl and better than a 50 percent chance of going to the conference title game.
And the Redskins are 3-7. (And the Vikes are 2-8.) As I said, maybe it won’t hold up.
The last 10 teams to lead the NFL in sacks (no need to belabor the point):
● 2008 – Cowboys (59): 9-7, missed playoffs.
● 2003 – Ravens (47): 10-6, AFC North champs, lost in first round.
● 2002 – Eagles (56): 12-4, top seed in NFC, lost NFC title game.
● 2001 – Steelers (55): 13-3, best record in AFC, lost AFC title game.
Sources: pro-football-reference.com and nfl.com.