The Dallas Cowboys used the franchise tag on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer in early March to the dismay of many fans, but defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Sunday the Dallas faithful shouldn’t feel negatively toward Spencer.
“I know I listen to all them radio shows on the way home and when they’re not dog-cussing me, they’re dog-cussing him,” Ryan said. “The bottom line is: He’s a damn good football player. What we asked him do, he did a great job with.”
Although Spencer hasn’t put up a ton of sacks like the guy at the other end of the line of scrimmage, DeMarcus Ware, he has done little things that help his team, but don’t stand out on the stat sheet. For example, Spencer forced four fumbles in 2011, which was the most of any Cowboy. He also recorded 31 quarterback pressures, which was second only to Ware’s 41. Ryan says he notices Spencer’s value although no one else does.
“I know everybody just looks at the bottom line on sacks or wins, and I don’t blame them,” Ryan said. “But as a coach, you appreciate a guy like Anthony Spencer because he does the right thing, and he plays hard. He forces fumbles. He still rushes the passer. He gets in the move. I think he’s going to have a great year [in 2012].”
Spencer had better have a solid year if he wants to be on the team again in 2013. The franchise tag guarantees him an $8.8 million salary for the upcoming season, but he’ll be a free agent again next year if the Cowboys don’t sign him to a new contract before then.
He wasn’t seem nearly as impressive as Ryan made him out to be, but the Cowboys’ colorful coach never says anything he doesn’t mean, so his now publicly expressed confidence has to be genuine. Ryan is a defensive guru, so if he thinks Spencer is a “damn good football player” then he at least deserves one more year to prove it to the rest of the football world.