The current NFL sack leader is Jacquies Smith, and if your response to that news is to ask, “Who is Jacquies Smith?” you’re not alone.
A year ago, hardly anyone knew who Smith was. He had bounced around pro football from the Miami Dolphins to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the New York Jets to the Buffalo Bills to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and as of November 1, 2014, he had zero career sacks. But midway through last season the Bucs started giving Smith more playing time at defensive end, and he has really produced: He had 6.5 sacks in the last eight games of 2014, and he leads the NFL with four sacks this season. Since Smith started getting more playing time in the middle of last year, only J.J. Watt and Justin Houston have surpassed his total of 10.5 sacks.
Smith is coming off the best game of his career, with three sacks and two forced fumbles against the Saints on Sunday. But as he finally starts to get noticed around the NFL, he says the individual recognition doesn’t matter.
“I don’t really get involved in individual stats and things of that nature,” said Smith. “Ultimately we’re just trying to come out there and get a team win. I don’t really pay too much attention to how many sacks a guy has got or how many he’s behind me. I’m just really trying to get out there and get a team win. There’s always stuff you can add to your game and make improvements to ultimately be the best player you want to be. That’s why I feel like you have to be a student of the game, you have to be into the film study and do a lot of mental things in order to get better.”
It’s a good thing Smith is proving good at shrugging off recognition, because he’s going to get a lot more recognition if he keeps playing the way he’s been playing. You might not know who Jacquies Smith is now, but every NFL fan will know his name soon enough.