PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles attempts to avoid the pass rush Victor Butler #57 of the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McNabb was sacked on the play. The Cowboys won 20-16. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
With five minutes and change left on the clock in the fourth quarter of Dallas's Sunday night victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia, rookie outside linebacker Victor Butler came off the bench to replace the injured Anthony Spencer.
On a third and ten from the Cowboys' 33, Donovan McNabb took off from the shotgun and appeared to have a pretty good chunk of unfettered real estate in front of him. Rather than a first down though, or maybe more, Butler laid out for a shoestring tackle, and a sack, his third of the year.
Philadelphia kicked a field goal and the game was, for all practical purposes, over. This was a huge play.
With three, Butler is second only to the Redskins' Brian Orakpo in sacks by a rookie and the question must be asked: Should the Oregon State product see more playing time?
The issue was addressed yesterday by the Dallas Morning News' Todd Archer, who argued that, with Spencer's seeming inability to get to the quarterback in time, perhaps Butler should see more action on third downs.
"Anthony Spencer does not have a sack in nearly 500 snaps but he does have 16 pressures," Archer says. "I understand sacks are not the end all, be all but maybe it's time to give Butler some third-down work."
The numbers for Butler in 38 snaps, this season: three sacks, one tackle and a forced fumble.
With all respect to Spencer, who has been improving steadily, it seems that the team can only gain from grooming Butler, who--as illustrated by the aforementioned statistics--has shown some serious ability in very limited time.