Robert Saleh Says Sacks Are Overrated

New York Jets v New York Giants
New York Jets v New York Giants / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh is a big fan of defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, and hates that some are judging him by his sack numbers. When discussing Williams' value, Saleh claimed we live in a society where sack production is used to measure how good a defensive player is and that those numbers shouldn't actually matter. He's right.

Here's what Saleh had to say:

Williams currently has 0.5 sacks this season, but Pro Football Focus gives him a grade of 90.0 for the campaign. The 25-year-old is arguably one of the NFL's five best players, which is why the Jets gave him a four-year, $96 million contract extension in July. He dominates games. In 2022 he had 12 sacks and PFF graded him at 90.1, so he's essentially having the same season despite depressed sack numbers.

Saleh is completely correct that teams game-planning to stop Williams opens things up for the rest of the Jets' defense. Yes, sacks are important, but they're more important for an entire defense's stats, not individuals. Sure, guys like Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt and Nick Bosa who consistently get to the quarterback are incredibly valuable but those guys also get help from the rest of their defenses. Without complementary linemen or a good secondary to slow a quarterback down, those rushers wouldn't be able to get to the quarterback as often as they do. Sacks are mostly a team statistic, though there are rare exceptions.

This is just another example of how stats are nice, but raw production numbers don't tell the whole story of a player's value.