COLUMN: Dumervil lacks in sacks, not maturity
Former Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil is headed to the Baltimore Ravens.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If the situation dictates it, the media will continue to nag Elvis Dumervil. It has, so they have.
And the 28-year-old is beginning to show his age — in a good way.
While spending 28 years on the earth hardly qualifies one for the title of Nostradamus, to enter your seventh season in professional football is to enter a midlife crisis in NFL years — especially for a player who has shown as much emotional and physical instability as Dumervil.
Even though he may literally own one, let’s just say for metaphorical purposes that Dumervil doesn’t have the look of a guy about to run out and buy a red Ferrari.
Quite the contrary. He’s looked level-headed. And he may have his momma to thank for that.
When his locker was assaulted by a sea of faces tucked behind cameras Thursday — all of them asking why he is yet to assault a quarterback tucked behind a sea of humanity — Dumervil explained it wasn’t the first time he has fielded the question. This despite the fact that Thursday was the first time the media was granted access to the sack-less defensive end.
“My momma’s already asked me why I don’t have any sacks,” Dumervil said.
That should come as no surprise.
It was Dumervil’s momma, after all, who first asked him whether or not he had pulled a gun on a Miami couple in an effort to claim temporarily ownership of 9×11-foot section of asphalt back in July.
“She was the first person I called,” Dumervil said.
And that phone call, Dumervil said, is what he’ll remember about the whole ordeal — not the criminal charges that came and went nor the month-long lambasting from journalists, fans and a 14×48-foot digital billboard.
But unlike the quarterbacks who have done such a great job of hiding from him, Dumervil hasn’t been hiding behind his momma. Again, quite the contrary.
“I totally get it,” Dumervil said to the criticism he’s received both on the field and off. “It comes with the territory.”
What fans can’t seem to totally get is why Dumervil’s coaches aren’t as frustrated with him as they are. One thing appears clear, however. If they were, at least one of them would have no problem saying it.
Just ask Robert Ayers.
Denver’s new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has issued the former No. 18 overall pick a couple of public tongue lashings and a couple of demotions — the first in favor of a career backup (Jason Hunter) and the second in favor of a rookie (Derek Wolfe).
So what does Del Rio think about Dumervil?
“I’m very pleased with Elvis, in particular,” Del Rio said Thursday. “He’s one of a lot of our guys on defense who has started his year the right way.”
What? How could Del Rio possibly be pleased with a defensive end who has zero sacks?
Maybe he’s pleased with this particular defensive end for playing his part on a defense that is giving up just 2.6 yards per rush through two games — the second best mark in the league.
Think of it this way: Maybe you’d be just as displeased if Dumervil had five sacks through two weeks on a defense that Michael Turner abused as badly as he does his bottles of whiskey and speed limits.
That’s the way Dumervil thinks about it, anyway.
“If we’re letting guys run, then we’re having another discussion right now,” Dumervil said. “We’re talking about why our defense is giving up 200 yards rushing.”
The fact is this: Dumervil isn’t yet over the hill; he’s right in the middle of it. And if his on-field performance isn’t showing it yet, his maturity off the field is.
Gone is the one-dimensional player who was admittedly-obsessed with his 17 sacks on a defense that lost eight of its final 10 games in 2009. Arrived is the coach-described-key-cog on a defense that has kept a sputtering offense in all of its last 18 contests.
So go ahead, Elvis. Tell ‘em you’ve had your bumps in the road, but that you’re all grown up now. Tell ‘em you don’t need sacks to feel good about yourself anymore.
“Can’t do that,” Dumervil said. “Sacks are what I love, and that will never change.”
“But at the same time, I can’t jeopardize the team in other situations just to get sacks,” Dumervil continued (perhaps for the sake of saving this column). “I need to fit in the scheme — just do better.”
Spoken like a true 28-year-old — in a good way.
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