Former CFL most outstanding defensive player Cameron Wake has crushed expectations in the NFL. The 29-year-old has himself 19.5 sacks in only 17 starts. In 2010, he even joined the defensive player of the year conversation with 14 sacks.
His career path appears to he headed in one obvious direction. After recording 5.5 sacks in his inaugural season with the Miami Dolphins, Wake had 14 in Year 2. That means he’s on pace to register 22.5 sacks next season, tying Michael Strahan’s single-season record.
While I’m being hyperbolic, it seems as though it should be safe to assume that Wake will only improve as he becomes more acclimated to the NFL.
But the Dolphins aren’t convinced that Wake will keep climbing the pass-rushing totem pole. From Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Wake is clearly a blossoming star South Florida should be thankful to have. But there is some concern inside the Dolphins’ front office that he could plateau, and not take the next step to becoming one of the NFL’s most feared defenders. [...]
“He could [regress] if he doesn’t do what good players in our league do, which would be to take the next step to grow,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said this offseason. “There’s obviously things that Cam can improve on. Cam would be the first to tell you that.
“Cam is a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder from the journey that it took for him to get to where he is right now. He does not forget it. If you look in his locker it paints a picture of where this guy has come from, to where he’s gotten,” Sparano continued. “He plays with that type of passion. Me and him have had conversations about not forgetting what it took to get there. It’s made him right now a good player, and I think this guy has better than good in him.”
While they insist that Wake is aware that he has to become more of a regular edge setter, I think the onus falls on the team as much as it does on Wake. None of Wake’s Miami teammates reached the five-sack mark in 2010, which is a major concern. There’s a belief that Koa Misi — who was second on the team with 4.5 sacks — will get better, but the Phins have to get their top pass rusher more support on the open market.