|Like Favre, Cowboys LB Ellis getting better with age|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 25 November 2007 14:18|
Although he's 32, coming off a potentially career-ending injury and still learning how to play linebacker, Ellis is enjoying the best season of his 10-year career.
Better yet, the Cowboys are 10-1 and closing in on their first division title since his rookie season.
``You can just look at the stats and obviously Brett is having a great year - and the same thing for me,'' Ellis said. ``It's like a fine wine. I tell Jerry (Jones) that all the time.''
Ellis had two sacks against the New York Jets on Thanksgiving, upping his season tally to 8.5. That's a half-sack shy of his best ever, set back when he was a defensive end.
Reluctantly turned into an outside linebacker last season, Ellis quickly discovered it was a good fit. Just look at the results: 13 sacks in 17 games, despite that run being interrupted last November by a torn Achilles' tendon.
That injury usually takes a year to recover. After some training-camp drama surrounding his return, Ellis was back Sept. 30 and celebrated with 1.5 sacks in limited action. Three weeks later, he returned to the starting lineup and celebrated with two sacks.
Over his five starts, Ellis has six sacks.
``Because of the injury and to have played only about a season at linebacker, people might be like, `Maybe he can go out there and make a couple of plays, but he probably won't have it yet.' Thank God I do,'' Ellis said.
Ellis certainly benefits from offenses worrying more about fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Yet it's worth noting that Ware's numbers have improved, too. He had 3.5 sacks in Ellis' first three games and still leads the team with nine.
``They can't double both of us,'' Ware said. ``So it's a big deal when Greg's in the game. We're able to get more pressure on the quarterback from both ends.''
The Cowboys will need the tandem as much as ever Thursday when they take on Favre and the 10-1 Green Bay Packers. With the teams tied atop the NFC, the winner will have the inside track on home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Favre is 38 and in his 17th season, but his numbers are among the best of his career. The stat that jumps out to Ellis is his sack total - a mere eight; his lowest in a full season is 13.
``I think he's playing the best right now that I've ever seen him play, even better than when they had their Super Bowl runs,'' Ellis said. ``Completions and yards are just really outstanding. ... He's not getting sacked a whole lot for the amount of passes he throws. That says a whole lot. He's getting the ball out on time.''
The same can be said of New England's Tom Brady, but Dallas got to him three times. He'd gone down only seven times in his other nine games going into Sunday night's game.
``I think their defense is obviously playing better as a group,'' Favre said. ``Ellis may not be the athlete Ware is, but part of that is age. I see him making plays.''
Favre last saw Ellis in 2004, when he was still a defensive end. He's been impressed with what he's seen on tape of Ellis as a linebacker.
``It's hard for me to pick up when he's rushing, when he's dropping and those type of things,'' Favre said. ``That's the savviness that comes with age. But he's also showing up. He's always around the ball.''
In other words, Brett, Ellis is older but better - just like you.
``You dont have to be as fast as you once were or as strong,'' Favre said. ``You make up for that with a little more wisdom.''