hardy

Can the Carolina Panthers break the single-season sack record?

In 2013, the Carolina Panthers became only the third team this century to record 60 team sacks in a season.

Now, defensive tackle Colin Cole is thinking that they can make a run at the all-time record of 72, which is held by the 1984 Chicago Bears.

“The goal is to surpass that and get up there with the big dogs of the past years,” Cole said, according to ESPN.com’s David Newton. “We want to set records as well. For us as a defensive line, that’s where our goal is. Maybe that’s just me talking on my behalf. But if you don’t shoot for the stars, you’ll never reach the moon.”

Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are beasts, and Sean McDermott knows how to dial it up, so I won’t totally rule anything out. But the odds are stacked against them, because only one team — the 2000 Saints, with 66 — has had more than 61 sacks in a single season since 1989. In other words, it’s been about a quarter century since anyone has really come close to Chicago’s mark.

The 1980s were all about team sacks. Fourteen of the 17 best single-season sack totals in NFL history came during that decade. Since then, parity and free agency have made it nearly impossible for one defense to be that dominant up front, and offenses have adjusted with shorter drops, quicker releases and spread formations, enabling quarterbacks to avoid sack-heavy outings.

Plus, Hardy — who had a team-high 15 sacks last year — is dealing with his own problems. In May, the 26-year-old Pro Bowler was convicted of assaulting and communicating threats to his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to 18 months’ probation. His appeal is supposed to go to trial in November, which has us wondering whether Hardy will be a distracting force for both himself and the team in 2014.

So when you consider that as well as the fact only two teams in NFL history have put up 60-plus sacks in back-to-back seasons, the odds of Carolina even coming close to that record aren’t good.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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