MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17: Anthony Spencer #93 of the Dallas Cowboys tackles wide receiver Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
It's no secret that after struggling to find comfort in the starting outside linebacker role early in the year, Anthony Spencer came on late, providing Dallas a solid compliment to the all-everything DeMarcus Ware; but beyond merely good, head coach Wade Phillips recently called Spencer one of the best--at least when considering the latter half of the 2009 NFL season.
There is evidence to support this.
Spencer did not have a sack on the year until the Thanksgiving Day contest with the Oakland Raiders, in which he nabbed two; then, as if the floodgates were opened, Spencer went on a tear. Beginning in week 15 at New Orleans, the Purdue product posted a half-sack or more in each of the team's games.
In this span, he grabbed six sacks; Ware had five. This is just the sort of balance, of course, that Dallas hoped Spencer's presence would bring when they selected him in 2007. In the playoffs, the two lived up to the promise, combining for five sacks in two games.
Compared to Ware, Spencer is still Mr. Anonymous. But all this will change, Phillips says, if Spencer can sustain the level of play seen late in 2009.
"Spencer was one of the best players in the league at the end of the year, in my opinion," said Phillips, per the Dallas Morning News. "If you look at the last half of the year, you will see he was one of the most dominant players we had.
"I felt good for him even though he didn't get the recognition I thought he should get, but I think he will if he keeps playing like that."