It’s that time of year when grand designs of breaking the single-season sack record are proclaimed.
Chandler Jones already offered his take. Now, the Indianapolis Colts’ DeForest Buckner is letting his goal of statistical sack splendor be known.
For Buckner, however, zeroing in on Michael Strahan’s standard of 22.5 sacks set in 2001 is something every defensive lineman should be striving to surpass.
“I kinda have my yearly goals. As a D-lineman, you’re always striving for the sack record,” Buckner told reporters on Friday. “If you play D-line and that’s not your goal, I don’t know why you play D-line.”
Relatively soft-spoken, Buckner offered up his individual goals and team aspirations on Friday, admitting that despite his production over the years, he feels he’s been overlooked and he uses that to fuel him to track down those goals and aid his team’s triumphs.
“Every year, I’m coming out and playing with a chip on my shoulder. Even if the recognition doesn’t come, I let my play speak for itself,” Buckner said via the team website’s Andrew Walker. “I mean, I put up the numbers over the past couple of years.
“I do believe I’m slept on. It’s all good. It just fuels a fire for me. It keeps me on my toes, it keeps me motivated to really get my name out there and prove myself in this league. And honestly it’s only benefitted me.”
Those numbers over the past two seasons include 62 tackles, nine for a loss, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks last years for the 49ers. Across a four-year run with the Niners, Buckner started and played in 63 of a possible 64 games following his seventh-overall selection in 2016. His career-high 12 sacks in 2018 led to his only Pro Bowl selection. A second-team All-Pro a year ago, garnering first-time status and a return to the annual all-star game were also among the individual goals Buckner cited.
Still, looking back at his 12-sack 2018 campaign and his seasonal average of 7.1, getting past Strahan would be a huge leap in production. He happens to be playing alongside the active player who’s gotten the closest, though, as Justin Houston racked up 22 in 2015 with the Chiefs. Now they’re together in Indy, no doubt looking to meet up at the opposing quarterbacks.
However, in the context of Buckner’s presser, his answer in regard to the sack record was far less impassioned than that of his expectations of going a step further than he was able to last year with the 49ers, the reigning NFC champions – and Super Bowl runners-up.
“Being short last year obviously left a bad taste in my mouth,” Buckner said. “Obviously not a lot of guys are able to make it to that game in their career, but also when you get there, you’ve gotta make it count. And I wasn’t able to make it count last year. So, I feel like we have the team that can do it, and we’ve just gotta get it done.”
Traded to the Colts this offseason, Buckner left a Super Bowl contender and is quite obviously ready to help Indianapolis to the same heights and aiming to take down quarterbacks aplenty in doing so.
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