Dumervil Proving Doubters Wrong
So, how has he made it look so easy?
Dumervil leads the league in sacks with 17, which is already his team's single-season record. He needs six against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday to break Michael Strahan's NFL record of 22 1/2 in a season. Doubt Dumervil can do it?
He had six sacks in one game as a University of Louisville senior. His single-game high this season is four in Week 2 versus the Cleveland Browns. For a guy who made 78 sacks in high school, 20 as a college senior and 43 thus far in four pro seasons, Dumervil has proven that doubters make him more dangerous.
After all, he was a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall) in the 2006 draft. NFL teams considered him too small (5-foot-11, 248 pounds). His answer: Play big.
He gained his first Pro Bowl selection this week.
"I had a great experience at Louisville, and I knew that some teams in the NFL would look at my size and wonder if I could do some of the same things on the next level,'' Dumervil said. "I really have to credit [former Broncos] coach Mike Shanahan for taking a chance on me. He gave me the opportunity to put my hand down and do what I can do coming off the edge.
"I've had to humble myself. When we went from the 4-3 to the 3-4 and I moved to linebacker this season, it's not something I think I do best. Now, I get the chance to move around and I go back to a down defensive end a lot on third downs, but learning the new scheme and a new position and believing in it was tough. I have to give credit to my linebackers coach, Don Martindale -- we call him 'Wink.' He has been great at showing me how to use my talent at the position.''
Eleven of Dumervil's 17 sacks have been delivered on third downs, something Dumervil calls "The Big Boys' Down.'' That is a down where Dumervil gets on the edge of the line of scrimmage, hand down, motor revved. If he had his way, he would remain in that spot all game. Since he does not, he has learned to bloom where planted.
His team began the season 6-0 and since has gone 2-7. It does not control its playoff fate. Help wanted. Help needed.
For Dumervil, it is a career year in the middle of a jerky Broncos' season. A feast and famine season.
"It's not going to be a great season if we don't make the playoffs,'' Dumervil said. "It's a blessing to be able to play this game, to do my best. But players have to ask themselves, what do they really want to get out of this chance? I know I am around players and coaches who really want to win. But we have to do more as a team to actually make that happen.''
Some NFL personnel experts marvel over the player Dumervil has become. They underestimated his strength, his ability to use a low-center of gravity, his leverage to create havoc in the backfield. Dumervil is being compared to Indianapolis Colts end Dwight Freeney and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison as shorter, powerful guys who pack a knockout punch.
Dumervil has also forced four fumbles this season.
"He's tough to deal with,'' an NFL general manager said. "He gets so low and often his opponent can only go so low. I'm amazed at how many matchups he wins and how he makes some guys who try to block him look like there is nothing they can do. It's not just his speed. He shows real power.''
The non-believers have been converted -- the NFL teams that passed on Dumervil regret it. The season he has compiled gives him pride, and the NFL sack record is not impossible, he insists.
But he longs for the playoffs.
"This is a dream come true to be where I am right now as an NFL player and it makes all the extra hard work pay off,'' Dumervil said. "But you want that in a season where your team gets to play in that special group. We'll see.''