When Carl Lawson's name comes up, numbers are sure to follow. Such as 5.5 sacks last year and 20.0 for his four-year career, modest for a top sacker. But also his 32 QB hits last year and 83 for his career, both among the very best in the NFL, regardless of position.
So it's interesting to hear Lawson's answer to a reporter's question at the start of training camp regarding how many sacks he felt he left on the field as a Cincinnati Bengal last season.
"Maybe 100?" the loquacious defensive lineman offered. "Because every rush is supposed to be a sack to me. That's how I evaluate it. So 100 sacks."
So maybe that's Lawson's goal for his first season as a Jets edge rusher? He said he did indeed have a sack goal but was not about to share it with his close friends in the media.
"Can't tell you," he said with a sly smile. "But that's how many I left on the table. Every rush to me, the way I watch film, is I'm supposed to win, I'm supposed to get there and get the sack. It's impossible but that's how I treat it."
Head coach Robert Saleh said he sees that winning in Lawson all the time.
"If you're just looking at a piece of paper, Carl doesn't check a single box in terms of height, length, size, none of it," Saleh said Wednesday. "But when you turn on the tape, all he does is win, over and over and over again. In the NFL, you can never have too many guys who just win play after play after play, so that's why he fits, he fits in any scheme. He's a guy that's going to line up and dominate his one-on-one, especially in money situations where you need somebody to affect the game. That's the type of player he is."
Lawson and the Jets have been perfect together so far, considering it was all about talk and hadn't yet been about action until Wednesday's first practice of training camp. He's well aware of the company he's keeping now that he's with the Green & White.
"I want to follow up on some of the greats. You had Mark Gastineau here, the Sack Exchange," he said. "That was a long time ago — I don't think I was even born. [Editor's note: He wasn't born until more than 10 years after the Exchange, in 1995.]
"I want to make my own legacy and keep it going as well."
But it's about more than Lawson's own stats and achievements. He made clear he's part of possibly a very impressive front wall of defenders in Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich's new 3-4 scheme.
"Being a good defensive line, you've got to have waves — that way everybody can stay fresh," he explained. "I've seen tons of talent on this D-line. Guys that people don't really talk about, that don't get talked about enough, are in this group. So it's a hell of a group and I feel we can be as good as we want to be."
That's all very promising for a line group whose predecessors had sack totals ranked in the bottom third of the league for most of the last decade. But the time for only answering questions verbally is over as Lawson and his DL room mates take to the field for practices and, soon enough, games.
And Jets fans are reasonable. One hundred Lawson sacks aren't necessary. Just a fifth or a sixth of that will work.
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