06/29/2011 11:23 AM -
For Defensive lineman Derrick Summers, the goal has always been simple. Get to the quarterback. Summers - and the rest of Sharks’ pass rush - have been successful at just that. The Jacksonville Sharks’ pass rush is currently tops in the AFL. The team has 35 sacks on the season and is getting to the opposing teams quarterback at a historic rate. The Sharks defensive line and linebackers only need four more sacks to own the All-Time record for sacks in a single season. Back at the beginning of the season very few people thought this was possible.
Last season, the Sharks had an above average pass rush accumulating 21.5 sacks on the season. After the end of the season however the Sharks returned just one lineman from the 2010 season, Justin Parrish,choosing instead to go with a rotation made up almost entirely of rookies in 2011. Under the tutelage of new defensive line coach and former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant strength coach, Brian Ferguson, the 2011 Sharks defensive line and pass rush has reached an elite level in the AFL.
Ferguson had a simple mentality coming in to the season, collapse the pocket … and do it by any means necessary. “From when we opened camp back in February to today we’ve made it obvious to everybody that there is competition at all positions and there are no clear cut starters. Everyone will have to earn their position. This ensures that there is no complacency and that all the rookies would have a chip on their shoulder.”
Defensive lineman Derrick Summers responded to the coaches early season challenge by having a spectacular season and making a strong case for defensive lineman of the year. Summers currently has 10 sacks, which ranks second best in the AFL. He has sacks against eight different teams. Additionally, he also had at least a half a sack in eight consecutive games, a feat no one in the league has been able to duplicate. Summers has been able to excel at both Mac Linebacker and Defensive End this season.
Versatility and consistency have been the one big keys for Summers that his other rivals do not have. Cliff Dukes of Tampa Bay, who leads the AFL with 13.5 sacks, only plays the blitz heavy Mac Linebacker position. He only has sacks in three consecutive games and four of Dukes’ sacks have come against just one team, the New Orleans Voodoo.
Coach Ferguson praises Summers, “Derrick Summers is an emerging superstar in this league. He came into camp third on the depth chart and has been able to work his way up from anonymity to become a feared pass rusher.”
In addition to Summers, the Jacksonville defensive front also sports defensive lineman Jerry Brown. Brown has been able to get six sacks on the season, while only starting five games. Up until this last week against Tampa Bay, Brown had sacks in each of the prior three weeks. Nose Guards Jason Holman and Richard Clebert have been able to clog the middle of the line and have helped hold opposing teams to just 12 rushing touchdowns this season, the lowest in the AFL. All while being tied for allowing just the third lowest amount of rushing yards per game. Mac Linebacker Aaron Robbins helped contribute for a safety against the Tampa Bay Storm last week as well.
The Jacksonville Sharks defensive line, headlined by Derrick Summers, has learned well from Coach Ferguson. They are no longer the anonymous inexperienced bunch they were at the beginning of the season. Instead they are the now the most feared pass rushing group in the AFL. That is a big difference.