Statistics are important. They allow us to measure success in retrospect. As fans we love to summarize a player's contributions, and statistics are a means to that end. But what really matters? Wins. If a team doesn't win, even the best statistical performances are essentially worthless.
Going into the 2014 season, the Falcons' defensive line coach, Bryan Cox, isn't worried about sack totals. He wants to win. And he knows his unit is only a part of the bigger picture. Courtesy of the Falcons' Reid Ferrin, we heard from Cox himself.
"I don't get caught up in stats. To me, 'successful' is being able to do the job that you're asked to do. That's success. Period. You don't need to put anything on it. 'I need ten sacks," or 'I need ten tackles for loss.' Do the job you're that being asked to do. And we won't get into what they're being asked to do. But that to me is being successful."
I have no problem with what Cox is saying. The Falcons have been dismal at generating any meaningful pass rush for longer than I'm comfortable admitting. And while we're at it, let's acknowledge that their run defense
sucks too hasn't blown anyone away in recent years either. But the most important thing, the ultimate goal, is occasionally lost in the fray. Win.
I'll be honest, I don't care how the defensive line does it. I don't care if they're dead last in sacks this year. If the defense makes running the ball difficult and pressures the passer, then I'm good. And that's what Cox is getting at. It's interesting that he doesn't want to share their strategy for getting there, but maybe that's just a product of his overall mindset. You don't lose the forest for the trees. Do your job. Be a good teammate. And in the end, everything should fall into place.