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Destroying the Notion That Justin Smith Only Recently Became "Good"

Bounty THIS.
Bounty THIS.

It's funny really. Even if I can excuse it knowing how most casual football fans come up with who's a good player in the NFL. Which guy's name are you hearing on ESPN or NFL Network? Who's on the highlight reels? Who has that one key statistic that is the only number that matters?

Still it "burns my ass", as Justin Smith would say, that so many people think the aforementioned only recently blossomed into a good player.

He got a lot of exposure in 2011 finally playing for a good team that was worthy of national talk. Getting any exposure as a 3-4 DE means you're exceptional. It's a thankless position, often charged with plugging lanes, taking on double-teams, and freeing up others to make plays.

Those things don't show up in the stat-line.

But ask anyone who really knows the NFL and they'll tell you that Smith has been a force for years now. I mean, the people who watch the game within the game...who see him manhandling opponents, beating double-teams, knifing through to force a runner into a teammate.

And that's really only the half of it.

More after the jump.

For the stat-mongers, Smith actually has the best career numbers in the NFL among active 3-4 DE's. I asked Pro Football Focus the question and they responded:

Tough Q, all these 3-4 guys play other positions too in sub packages. 1st/2nd depending on Shaun Ellis status/definition for sacks.

That supports what I found when looking at career numbers myself. Smith's numbers are below along with some of the best 3-4 DE's in the league.

Player Seasons Tackles Tck/yr Sacks Sck/yr
Justin Smith 11 722 65.6 72.5 6.6
Shaun Ellis 12 513 42.8 73.5 6.1
Calais Campbell 4 208 52.0 21 5.3
Darnell Dockett 8 379 47.4 34.5 4.3
Haloti Ngata 6 311 51.8 17 2.8
Ty Warren 9 373 41.4 20.5 2.3
Richard Seymour 12 481 40.1 54.5 4.5

Smith is a monster and has produced over his entire career. Just because you haven't heard his name much before now doesn't mean a thing. Please, help me in educating our peers on this topic. Friends don't let friends say stupid football things.