Miami’s stud defensive end duo of Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon combined for five tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble working against Dallas’ first-string offensive line.
Vernon’s sack of the night came against LT Tyron Smith, which to Smith’s credit, could be seen as a coverage sack.
Wake’s two sacks on the night came against RT Doug Free, which Free has no excuse for allowing Wake to get some hits on his already beat up quarterback Tony Romo.
While Miami’s starting units struggled overall, the duo of Vernon and Wake showed why they are the league’s best 4-3 pass rushing pair. In their first season working together, the two put together 20 total sacks and two forced fumbles, but the upside both players present suggest that total will only go up in their second season working together. Wake has been known as one of the league’s best pass rushers and has been widely considered as the NFL’s best pure pass rusher. During his tenure with Miami, he has collected 51.5 sacks total in five seasons. While he is 32 years old, Wake is known for keeping himself in peak shape year-round and it shows on the field. His hustle, drive, passion and determination are on display every time he steps on the field. Just ask Tom Brady.
Wake’s lifestyle has rubbed off on a former University of Miami stud pass rusher who is incredibly gifted athletically, but never put it all together during his college years. Vernon has put together 15 sacks during his first two seasons in Miami, but has yet to even tap into his potential entering his third season in the league. Vernon shows brute strength to dominate the strongest left tackles in the league and the pure athleticism and speed to get past the quickest left tackles in the game. The former UM star put together a solid, yet underrated 2013 season, where he collected 11.5 sacks, yet most casual fans do not even know who he is.
That should change this season, as Wake and Vernon have been working together non-stop to become much better players overall. Not to mention, former Miami-great Jason Taylor has also been working closely with the team as a volunteer coach, working with the pass rushers alongside Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers.
Vernon’s 6-foot-2, 268 pound body very closely resembles Wake’s 6-foot-3, 262 pound body, but that’s not all that closely relates the two on the field. Both players display incredible speed, athleticism, burst, quickness, explosion off the snap, strength, relentlessness and drive. Vernon has landed in a perfect situation where he can learn from a pass rusher who is not only smart, incredibly gifted (as he is) but who is also very humble. Wake is a perfect mentor for Vernon, which should help Vernon become one of the league’s very best pass rushers in just a few short seasons.
These two give Miami two legitimate book-end pass rushers, which allows the talented defensive tackle trio of Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell to work the middle of the field and gobble up ball carriers. Miami has not seen a pass rush duo this good since the short stint of Taylor and Adewale Ogunleye.
There is no question that Miami owns the best 4-3 pass rushing duo with two potential pro bowl players in Vernon and Wake.