In Bronco Mike's Film Study of Robert Ayers, we've been debating Robert's role on the team. The question largely comes into play as it relates to expectations. My stance has been that no matter what you know about him, or what you think you know.. Robert Ayers is our "rush end" for the 2013 season. He plays at RDE and primarily rushes against the opponent's best blocker, the Left Tackle. He's on the field for base downs, whereas Shaun Phillips is not. Therefore, he's our primary pass rusher in my eyes.
Robert Ayers' major supporters don't like that term or any other term that defines him, because that would mean he would compare negatively to those others in the same role as his. They'll ask why we don't call Derek Wolfe our primary pass rusher, even though the know the answer. But it's just a distraction. Don't underestimate the sneakiness. Don't get lost in the details. They'll try to get over detailed on the schemes and designs and pull the wool over your eyes, just to keep us from defining Robert Ayers as a rush end or as our primary rusher. So I'll get right to the point so that we don't get lost in definitions or distractions.
Every defense that doesn't suck balls has a primary pass-rusher who can play on any down (can't be a situational player) and can get to the quarterback consistently... without bringing a blitz. That means he's one of the FOUR base defenders.
Is Robert Ayers that guy? Either you call him our primary pass rusher/edge rusher/speed rusher, and then you accept that it's fair for him to be compared to others in that same position, or else you deny that he's our primary pass rusher and our speed rusher/edge rusher... and then you explain why we're the only ones who don't have one.
As a quick note, don't get too caught up in 3-4 versus 4-3 or linebacker versus defensive end. The schemes change each year, and with that we call them by a different position. They still look the same, act the same and do the same thing. Don't let them distract you in the details. This is simple.
Atlanta Falcons. John Abraham is your starting Rush End and had 10 sacks on the year.
Buffalo Bills. Mario Williams is your starting Rush End and had 10.5 sacks on the year.
Denver Broncs. Elvis Dumervil is your starting Rush End and had 11 sacks on the year. Von Miller added 18.5 from the linebacker position. The Broncos are the only 4-3 defense to have a linebacker with double digit sacks. And there is a reason for this. as I'll explain somewhere else.
Miami Dolphins. Cameron Wake is your starting Rush End and had 15 sacks on the year.
Tama Bay Bucaneers. Michael Bennett is your starting Rush End and had 9 sacks on the season.
Arizona Cardinals. Daryl Washington is your Rush Linebacker and had 9 sacks on the season.
Green Bay Packers. Clay Mathews is your Rush Linebacker and had 13 sacks on the season.
Houston Texans. Whitney Mercilus was a rookie and only notched 6 sacks as the Rush Linebacker. JJ Watt never leaves the field and had 20.5 sacks, so that was okay.
San Diego Chargers. Shaun Phillips was your starting Rush Linebacker and had 9.5 sacks on the year.
Crappy Defenses That Don't Matter.
Jacksonville Jaguars. They didn't have much of anything at Rush End, so they traded Philly for Justin Babin with 5 games left to play. They ranked dead last in sacks.
Oakland Raiders. This is an expansion team. They ranked 31st in sacks, so nothing matters.
New York Jets. Who was their Rush Linebacker? I do not remember and don't feel like finding it. They had more sacks than only 5 teams.
Philadelphia Eagles. They had Justin Babin as their Rush End until the trade to Jax - he had 5.5 sacks while in Philly. Philly also only had more sacks than 5 teams, and so they do not matter either. As in, these aren't the teams we're trying to model our pass rush off of.
Cleveland Browns. They lacked a real Rush End and so they signed Paul Kruger in the offseason.
New Orleans Saints. They were action packed with issues after Bounty Gate and I don't feel like sorting it out. They tied with the Eagles and Raiders for suckage in sacks, so they don't matter either.
Unless you're a suckballs defense, your team has a "primary" pass rusher that can sack the quarterback on any down. This is not a situational guy. He plays on base downs and passing downs. Generally, it's either your starting Rush End or it's your starting Rush Linebacker, depending on whether you're a 3-4 team or a 4-3 team. But don't let them distract you from the point. It can be JJ Watt in Houston instead of Mercilus. It can be Geno Smith in Cinci instead of Johnson. And it can Von instead of Doom last year in Denver. Nobody cares. It's any guy who gets sacks as one of your base four pass-rushers. They all keep a credible threat on the field. Who is ours?
The reason teams keep a guy like Elvis Dumervil on the field even though he's not very good against he run, like we did last year, is because one of your four rushers (fourth guy is a linebacker in a 3-4) needs to present a credible threat to the quarterback at all times. Who is our guy? Do you know why the Ravens don't have to keep Doom on the field? Because they have Suggs who can be the 4th pass rusher on a base down. We did not have that.
Unless and until Shaun Phillips begins to take his role, Robert Ayers is our primary pass rusher. As such, he's comparable to the men listed above. If you don't think he can match up in those comparisons, then we agree. And that's the problem. Shaun Phillips can match up to those men, and so maybe it's Ayers who has the problem.