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Thread: Analyzing the Steeler Defensive Line: A Three-Way Race

      
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    Default Analyzing the Steeler Defensive Line: A Three-Way Race

    Analyzing the Steeler Defensive Line: A Three-Way Race

    Posted on August 25, 2010 by JJ


    Now that Pittsburgh has a franchise quarterback, now diehard fans can turn their attention to worrying about the line responsible for protecting him.

    But while we all spend time worrying about Flozell Adamsí feet and whether Justin Hartwig should make the roster, the Steelers defensive line has been carrying on a very interesting battle of their own. It doesnít get as much notice because the Steelersí starting three are set in stone, but among Nick Eason, Sunny Harris and Doug Worthington, the Steelers have three quality linemen battling for either one or two spots.

    To get a better idea of how that battle is shaping up, I went back and logged each snap in the Giants game for each of those three defensive ends, plus the snaps of Ziggy Hood. Hood has clearly made the team, but since so many people are wondering about why he hasnít made more of an impact this preseason, it was worth taking a look at his work as well.

    Like I did with the offensive line, I tried to put together some sort of Yes/No grade on each snap. Itís not easy to do that for the offensive line, and itís even tougher when you are talking about defensive ends. For instance, on a pass play itís just not fair to expect a DE to consistently pressure the quarterback. So when it comes to grading them out on pass plays, a little bit of penetration into the backfield or in some cases just keeping containment is enough to get a yes on the question of whether it was a good play or not. Itís a little simpler on running plays, but even then your expectations for a DE often have to be downgraded. If a defensive end gets his hands on the offensive lineman blocking him and stalemates him at the line, heís generally doing a good job, even if it looks like he just stood up and stood at the line.

    And even then there are a number of plays where a defensive end is irrelevant. If the Giants run a sweep to the left, left end Ziggy Hood isnít going to be making the tackle no matter how well he dominates his man. And again, Iím not looking at technique or all the myriad things that a coach grading the film would use in determining a grade. Iím just looking at the results based on what I think the player was being asked to do.

    As mentioned in other posts, we canít know the play call, so there is a chance that there are some misinterpretations, although in most cases I donít think thatís an problem here ó if a player gets driven five yards off the ball by the offensive lineman, he didnít do his job. Eason actually had 27 snaps, but on one of them the TV feed came back from a worthless interview so late that it was impossible to tell what he did on the play (similar deal for Hood, but he was laying on the ball carrier, so it seemed safe to say he did a solid job).

    Ziggy Hood 20 of 24 83.3
    Nick Eason 21 of 26 80.8
    Sunny Harris 12 of 15 80
    Doug Worthington 11 of 15 73.3


    Nick Eason: Easonís play on Saturday makes it clear that making a big play will get you noticed. The general consensus among watchers was the Eason was the standout among the backup defensive linemen. That was based largely on an excellent play he made at the goal line where he got a fantastic jump off the snap, drove a guard into the backfield and shut down the run.

    It was a great play. And he made another one that was nearly as good three plays later. But he also was driven out of the play on a 21-yard run to his side of the field and had a couple other running plays where he was blown out of the play. Eason is generally pretty solid against the run, but, like most of the Steelersí defensive linemen, heís not going to put much heat on the quarterback. Heís clearly the safest bet among the backup linemen, but he also is on the downside of his career where the two guys heís battling for the final defensive end spot(s) are young players with room for improvement.

    Play Result Good Play
    1 Gets some push, but handled on pass rush Yes
    2 Driven back on run his way No
    3 Not much rush, but helps clear way for Footeís blitz Yes
    4 Handled, but hustles on run the other way Yes
    5 Awful play. LT drives him back 7 yards on run his way that goes for 21 yards No
    6 Bad TV work. Looks like he got some push Yes
    7 Bottled up inside on run outside No
    8 Good effort, few results on pass play Yes
    9 Stuffed at line on Burnett INT Yes
    10 Plays paddy-cake with OL No
    11 What you want a Steeler DE to do. Drives LG into backfield which disrupts running play Yes
    12 Reads screen his way pretty quickly Yes
    13 Reads toss his way extremely quickly, helps jump on pile Yes
    14 Quick pass means not much to do Yes
    15 Bad TV work again, canít say ?
    16 Driven outside by OT No
    17 Double teamed, no pass rush Yes
    18 Excellent job. Fires out low to cause traffic jam at POA Yes
    19 Solid effort few results on pass play Yes
    20 Stalemate at line Yes
    21 Both he and Hood serve as decoys in pass rush, looping to outside left as LBs come from right Yes
    22 One of his worst plays. LG hooks him and turns him on run right at him No
    23 Gets low, causes havoc by creating traffic jam Yes
    24 Best play of the night. Amazingly quick off snap, drives LG into backfield. Stuffs play Yes
    25 Stuffed at line on pass play No
    26 Good push on p/a pass play Yes
    27 Again does his job. Fast off snap, moves his man into backfield Yes


    Ziggy Hood: With the talk of Hoodís amazing development in training camp, Steelersí fans were expecting Hood to look like Joe Greene V 2.0 this fall (or at least Aaron Smith V 2.0). Instead heís been OK but the only time he got his name called on Saturday night was when he was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty.

    But Hoodís play isnít nearly as poor as that makes it sound. He didnít have many great plays, but he was pretty consistent. He showed that he can drive his man into the backfield at times and he has more pass-rush ability than any other backup defensive end. He did get flagged for going too low at Rhett Bomar, but itís also worth remembering that he showed excellent burst to get to Bomar.

    Play Result Good Play
    1 Double-teamed on pass rush Yes
    2 Gets good penetration but run is going other way Yes
    3 Drives his man back, but not much else Yes
    4 Bad play. RT #65 drives him back 8 yards on run his way No
    5 Goes outside, not much to do on run other way Yes
    6 Hustles, but stuffed at line Yes
    7 Bottled up inside on run outside No
    8 Gets a little push, but nowhere near QB Yes
    9 Little penetration on INT Yes
    10 Double teamed on pass play Yes
    11 Uses arms to control RG, slides off to help on tackle Yes
    12 Some penetration, but screen pass going to other side Yes
    13 Had some trouble fending off cut block No
    14 Same as Eason too quick a play to do much Yes
    15 Bad TV work, but was lying on ball carrier at end Yes
    16 Suckered by draw play, RB runs right past him No
    17 I know he got a penalty, but good pass rush by Hood, slides off man quickly. Gets flagged for roughing passer No
    18 Great job. Gets inside OL, slides down line to help on tackle Yes
    19 No real push on pass play Yes
    20 Better job staying home on draw Yes
    21 Both serve as decoys in pass rush Yes
    22 Run other way, isnít a factor Yes
    23 Stalemate, which is good enough Yes
    24 Helps push pocket back Yes


    Doug Worthington: For a rookie, Worthington offers a whole lot of energy. He played hard, he hustled to the whistle and every now and then you saw some flashes ó like when he beat his man to the inside, read a running play and hustled to make a tackle on the Giantsí first play of their last possession.

    But he also struggled in goal line play. On back-to-back plays Worthington was so focused on firing out low (something that is important) that he ended up on all fours and out of the play. On the second of the two plays a Giantsí lineman laid on top of him once Worthington had lost his balance.

    Play Result Good Play?
    1 Unblocked, but ends up crawling on ground. Not a factor in play No
    2 Again ends up on all fours, this time with blocker on top of him No
    3 Stood up, but slides to outside. Not a factor on run other way Yes
    4 Driven three yards inside on run his way No
    5 Double teamed on three-man rush Yes
    6 Ends up getting double-teamed again Yes
    7 Good hustle, slides off block late to help on tackle Yes
    8 Quick pass, not much he can do Yes
    9 Not generating much pass rush Yes
    10 Run at him again, does good job of getting penetration and flowing to ball Yes
    11 RT handles him pretty well No
    12 Quick screen. Not a factor Yes
    13 Outstanding, gets inside of RT, flows down line to make tackle Yes
    14 Doesnít really do much on pass play Yes
    15 Good job. Loop gets him into end zone to help pressure Bomar Yes


    Sunny Harris: I want to offer up any biases in advance. I was impressed with Harris last year (to the point of watching a Panthersí game to see how he did for them after his early-season signing). And I liked his work in the Lionsí game. But I tried to grade him to the same level that I did the other three DEs.

    Harris also was relatively consistent. His worst play was his first play ó he was blown off the ball on a goal line play in the third quarter. But at his best Harris gets good leverage and drives linemen back.

    Play Result Good Play?
    1 Destroyed and driven into end zone by double team No
    2 Much better, gets into backfield Yes
    3 Good job of attacking OTís hip. Yes
    4 Overaggressive to outside, but not factor on run other way Yes
    5 DTíd on three-man rush Yes
    6 Shows strong legs. Gets push to drive OT back Yes
    7 Doesnít anchor well, gets driven out of hole No
    8 Too quickly released to get into backfield Yes
    9 Works stalemate on pass Yes
    10 Gets inside LT and drives down line. Yes
    11 Sylvester gets sack before he makes contact with OT Yes
    12 Gets into backfield on screen Yes
    13 Fires off snap too high, LT gets under him and pushes him back No
    14 Shows some strength, gets into backfield. Yes
    15 Almost gets a safety on Bomar Yes

    http://www.steelerslounge.com/2010/0...threeway-race/

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    Default Re: Analyzing the Steeler Defensive Line: A Three-Way Race

    I forgot about Sunny Harris and Doug Worthington

    Maybe we all should looking at those results especially coming against 2nd 3rd and 4th stringers
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