In 2012, Elvis Dumervil had what some fans here on MHR call an unremarkable season, notching only 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles to go along with a meager 54 tackles. It would seem like a down year for Doom. The league had a sack leader flirt with the all time record for sacks in a season and the second and third place finishers hot on his heels. It appeared as if our one time NFL sack leader had crashed back down to earth. Appearances can be deceiving though.
Elvis Dumervil has been a consistent force, playing under seven D Cordinators in as many years. He consistently ranks in the top 20 for sacks in a season. Though we all know, sacks are not the end all, be all, they are a good measuring stick for the RDE position. None of the names being floated as a replacement show that same consistent production as an every down RDE. Could it be that replacing Dumervil might not be as easy as some of us think it will be?
Where Did 2009 Go?
We all remember 2009, don’t we? Our guy Doom logged 17 sacks on the year. In that effort, he broke the all time Broncos record for sacks in a season and led the NFL. On the surface, that seems like a great year, doesn’t it? I think we all know how that season ended? The Broncos finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs due to a late season collapse where the Broncos defense was exploited. Elvis Dumervil was the only bright spot in the defensive front seven that season. He was the only player who was a threat to get to opposing QBs. It was a banner year for Doom, but not so much for the Broncos. Fast forward to 2012, Dumervil is not the only pass rusher on the block any more. He has competition now in Von Miller and Derek Wolfe. Is it realistic to expect nothing less than 17 sacks from the man now? I think we can all agree that it’s not.
The Von Miller Effect
As edge rushers, Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil form a symbiotic dynamic when they are on the field together. They play off each other, they push each other. The defense is designed to put Miller in a favorable position to rush the QB. Von is often tasked with going up against a RT that may or may not get some help depending on the look. The majority of Dumervil’s snaps, he is lined up against the opposition’s best pass blocker. By design, the Broncos Defense is going to allow Von Miller to get more sacks. This is something that should not discount Doom’s contribution. He is competing with another sublime talent that has a head start, by design. The fact that Dumervil was still able to crack the top fifteen in the league while competing with Von Miller on the same unit is nothing but impressive. Without the threat of another top producer on the right edge of the defense, all of a sudden that defensive design becomes very flawed.
The Mythical Weakness
We’ve all heard and seen the hype that Dumervil is a liability against the run. In the past, that was definitely a valid point. PFF likes to make that assumption and toss it around as fact. If you use your own eyes, you can see that Doom has improved markedly in his run defense over the last two seasons. He is becoming a more complete DE. When we look at the simple numbers, Elvis logged 54 tackles in 2012. That happens to be his career high for a season. That number helps to bear out what we have seen on the field. As much as some folks would like it, a defensive end cannot set the edge in run support and harass the QB at the same time. Dumervil’s primary responsibility as a RDE is to harass the QB. The ultimate indicator of his performance of that responsibility just happens to be sacks. As a top fifteen performer in that area in 2012, he will garner a lot of attention. There is a market for his services, despite what the talking heads in the MSM are saying.
The Contract and the Magid Mess
There have been a lot of folks blaming this whole mess on Josh McDaniels. I’d love to throw another log on that man’s funeral pyre, but this one is unwarranted. It’s not as if the hoodie handed Doom an Al Davis chunk for underperforming. Doom’s contract was awarded to him after a season in which he led the league in sacks. He did this on a team where he was the only real threat to get to the QB with any consistency. The Broncos’ final offer to Doom did not cut his pay; it simply moved money to the back end of the deal. His deal was a little off the current market, but not nearly as "out of whack" as people were making it out to be.
Dumervil had quite a few detractors here before "Fax Gate". Since the whole Marty Magid mess, it seems like some fence sitter’s have gone all in with letting Dumervil go. The vitriol is almost as bad as the Tebow wars. You are all entitled to your opinion, by try to look at this objectively. You can’t blame Dumervil for wanting to make the most money possible. It is of little or no consequence now if it was a ploy to hang on to his contract, or if it was an honest mistake. That is all water under the bridge. Elvis is nowhere near the scrub that some have made him out to be. The fact is, he is a top ten pass rusher, an elite talent. No matter how you slice it, if he’s not a Denver Bronco, the Broncos are worse off as a team because of it.
Nearly a week into free agency, it is obvious that the market for pass rushers has been devalued. Just how much, is hard to determine. The biggest indicator on Dumervil’s value will be Abraham. It is a big mistake to use Kruger’s contract as an indicator. As well as Kruger performed in 2012, Doom is in another league as a pass rusher. He will land somewhere. I hope Elway can find a way to bring him back where he belongs.