Rashan Gary is on a hot streak. Through four games he’s recorded five sacks (at least one in every game) and has stuffed the box score with a bunch of other impressive numbers, too, including six quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
Is he off to the best four-game start a Packers pass rusher has ever had? He has a claim, but let’s take a look at his company.
Clay Matthews’ 2010 season comes to mind as another impressively hot start. Matthews opened his second season in the NFL with back-to-back three-sack games. After a quiet Week 3, Matthews added another sack in Week 4 to give him seven in the first quarter of the season.
Matthews, obviously, has the higher sack total, but Gary beats him on consecutive games. I’d still give the edge to Matthews on sheer numbers, and it’s worth mentioning that Matthews had another 1.5 sacks in Week 5. A season-opening run of 8.5 sacks over five games is hard to match.
Matthews shared his hot start in 2010 with Cullen Jenkins, who had a sack in the first four games of that season as well — no easy feat as an interior rusher.
Former Packers defensive end Sean Jones also started a season with a sack in four consecutive games, doing so in the first four weeks of the 1994 season, his first with the team. Jones gets bonus points for pulling it off at age 31. He finished the season with 10.5 sacks and would go on to be a notable contributor on the Packers’ 1996 Super Bowl team, capping off his 13-year NFL career with a ring.
All these seasons are impressive, but none of them can match Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila’s insane start to the 2001 Packers campaign. A second-year fifth-round pick, KGB had a whopping nine sacks during the first four weeks of the 2001 season, including three sacks in both Week 1 and Week 4. He also forced two fumbles in that span.
On top of that, Gbaja-Biamila had also recorded a sack in the Packers’ Week 17 game in 2000, giving him a five-game streak that included 10 total sacks. And I don’t know if it makes it more impressive, but it’d feel weird to not at least mention that his streak was also interrupted by the NFL’s week off following the September 11 attacks, meaning that Gbaja-Biamila had his three-sack game in Week 1, had a week off, and then had three straight games of two, one, and three sacks.
To be fair to Gary, if you include last season’s playoff loss to the 49ers, he’s managed seven sacks over his last five games. It’s not as ludicrous as KGB’s, but it’s plenty impressive on its own, and just another data point in Gary’s long rise to stardom.
[Note: A previous version of this story referred to KGB as an undrafted free agent. He was actually selected with the 149th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Thanks to those who noted the error.]