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Could Brian Cushing Fill The Karl Mecklenburg Role In Wade Phillips' 3-4?

In the 3-4 defense, the weakside OLB is the guy who gets the glory, as far as sack numbers go. DeMarcus Ware would of course be the popular current example of this. Note, however, that in the past the left ILB on teams with Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator have seen higher sack numbers than you might expect.

Now, I realize that this is probably due more to the player and surrounding personnel than it is the scheme, but it's just some food for thought as we patiently wait for this God-forsaken work stoppage to end.

Presumably, Brian Cushing will play the strongside (left) inside linebacker position for the Texans in 2011. Cushing is one of these "relentless motor" guys, similar to Bronco standout Karl Mecklenburg. Here's a look at what Mecklenburg was able to do from a sack standpoint at the same position with Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator:

Karl Mecklenburg, LILB, Denver Broncos: Sack Numbers

1989: 15 games started, 7.5 sacks
1990: 16 games started, 5.0 sacks
1991: 16 games started, 9.0 sacks
1992: 16 games started, 7.5 sacks

Then in 1993 Phillips took over as head coach of the Broncos, but his defensive scheme remained in place. Mecklenburg's numbers continue...

1993: 16 games started, 9 sacks

In 1994, the Broncos switched to a 4-3 defense.

Now, again, we don't know if Brian Cushing can be Karl Mecklenburg. He certainly has more natural talent than Mecklenburg did, but that of course isn't what makes a successful NFL player.

Just ponder... but don't check the LILB sack numbers for some of the other defenses Wade was in charge of, because those statistics don't fit my narrative. *runs away*

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.