Anthony Spencer: “With me I don’t try to hide anything. I wasn’t doing the things that I know I need to get done.”
After weeks of speculation back in early March the Dallas Cowboys elected to franchise tag outside linebacker Anthony Spencer rather than give him a brand new contract. The move was viewed with a ton of skepticism and rightfully so. The facts are that Spencer at best is an average OLB. In the 3-4 scheme No.93 plays on the left side opposite of one of the league’s best in DeMarcus Ware.
It seems like every year the Cowboys having been waiting for Spencer’s breakout season and it hasn’t come yet. Granted he plays in a complicated scheme under Rob Ryan, but at some point you wonder if Spencer could ever achieve double-digit sacks. He registered six last season. To his credit the 26th overall draft pick out of Purdue in 2007 knows he need to step up his game, but by the same token, all he can do is play the scheme and drop in pass coverage if that’s what’s asked of him. In 2012 Spencer looks to prove his critics wrong.
Anthony Spencer joined KTCK in Dallas with BaD Radio to discuss not being the player he wanted to be last year for the Dallas Cowboys, the improvements he needs to make with his pass rushing skills, playing in pass coverage more often in a 3-4 scheme while DeMarcus Ware rushes the passer, blitzing at the right time in Rob Ryan’s scheme and his advice to newcomers to the Rob Ryan defense.
Last year you said something in an interview that media and fans used against you for being honest. You know the quote I am talking about?
“I was just saying that I didn’t work on the things in practice like I wasn’t working towards the game every day in practice. I was pretty much just practicing and not really looking at the film and going over the things that I had to go over in practice. Like how are the guys going to set up? How are the guys going to pass block me? Certain formations I was just going and practicing. Just going through the looks. That is what I was saying, but it was taken as if I was taking days off. I wasn’t practicing hard. I wasn’t trying? That was definitely not the fact. You’ll have that with certain comments I guess. With me I don’t try to hide anything. I wasn’t doing the things that I know I need to get done. That was just the bottom line.”
What do you think you should be doing better?
“Last year I think I worked on a lot of stuff with my pass rush. I think I got a lot better with my angle. The way I used my hands and just getting a little bit more pressure on the quarterbacks. I think that is one of the things I definitely think I can capitalize on more this year just being able to rush a little bit more and getting after the quarterback.”
Because you have a 20-sack player in DeMarcus Ware opposite of you the reality is that you are more likely to drop in pass coverage. That’s just how the scheme works. It’s tough getting sacks 8 yards back into coverage isn’t it?
“Yeah that’s what I tell people all the time. You can’t get sacks dropping into coverage unless he is scrambling and you happen to come up and get him before he crosses the line. Most of the time he crosses the line anyway, but it’s hard to get sacks that way, but when I get my opportunities that was probably my thing I focused on last year was just capitalizing on the opportunities I had rushing the passer and just trying to make my presence felt.”
How hard is it to get the balance right in Rob Ryan’s scheme to know when the right time is to blitz?
“It’s difficult, but at the same time Rob [Ryan] is going to be the guy that he is. He is going to send guys. He is going to bring pressure. That’s the type of defense that he wants to run and we just need to execute. There’s always something the offense can do sort of to beat it, but if you execute you can minimize the damage. That’s our biggest thing: trying to minimize the damage when we are in those situations and just execute and getting the things done. I think that was the biggest thing. It being a new defense for us. Everyone learning the ins and outs of it. It was a short offseason. It was a short camp cause we really didn’t have the offseason to put all the defense in and what not, but right now I feel like we are all on the same page. We are putting in stuff that we already been over with in OTAs and minicamp. We know what we need to get done and I think that is our biggest help this year. Just everybody being on the same page.”
What would you tell newcomers to the Rob Ryan defense?
“Pay attention. Pay attention. [Laughs] Take it step by step. Like you said earlier it is like learning calculus. You can’t go to the next step until you learn the first step. That’s what you pretty much have to tell him. Make sure you get the first thing down before you move onto the next thing.”
Listen to Anthony Spencer on KTCK in Dallas here