After one other slate stuffed with sacks, stops, and stuffs, let’s overview the standout performers from the trenches throughout Wild Card Weekend:
Defensive Lineman of the Week: Chargers DE Melvin Ingram
Los Angeles Chargers pass-rusher Melvin Ingram is blessed with a uncommon mixture of velocity, explosiveness, and suppleness, however he took a step again within the 2018 common season with 43 tackles (eight for a loss), 16 quarterback hits, and 7 sacks. These are nonetheless robust numbers by most requirements, however they had been all down from Ingram’s manufacturing in 2017.
It seems Ingram was simply saving his greatest for the playoffs, as he submitted his best efficiency of the marketing campaign on Sunday towards the Baltimore Ravens. And as typical, he made his greatest contributions as a pass-rusher – recording two sacks and three QB hits – however with a twist.
The Ravens possess the most effective offensive traces in soccer, however with a obvious weak spot at left guard, the place Alex Lewis begins and James Hurst backs him up. To assault that weak spot, Los Angeles made a aware effort to scheme up one-on-one matchups for Ingram inside – fairly than on the sting – and it paid off massive time, as he beat a left guard on each sacks.
This is the primary, which got here towards Lewis:
On this play, Ingram begins by accelerating towards the surface fringe of Lewis, which forces the guard to broaden farther away from the middle, making a wider hole. With Lewis’ momentum taking him exterior, Ingram then makes use of a strong cross-chop transfer to maintain himself clear earlier than spinning inside by means of the broad hole after which sacking quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Ingram’s footwork on the spin was slightly clunky – as he wanted a collect step earlier than persevering with ahead – nevertheless it did not matter as a result of it was arrange and executed with such nice timing that Lewis had no probability to get better.
Hurst was the sufferer on Ingram’s second sack, as seen beneath:
Right here, Ingram would not stroll right down to the road of scrimmage till instantly earlier than the snap, after which makes use of his ahead momentum to burst towards Hurst’s midline.
Simply earlier than he will get inside placing distance, Ingram jab steps inside after which expands exterior, which crosses up Hurst and attracts out his arms. As he expands exterior, Ingram executes a cross chop to fend off Hurst’s strike after which simply penetrates by means of to sack Jackson within the pocket.
These sacks displayed Ingram’s method, timing, and ending capacity, because the seventh-year pass-rusher lastly performed on the stage that is been anticipated of him this season. In opposition to the New England Patriots this coming weekend, search for the Chargers to proceed shifting Ingram round as a mismatch piece to reap the benefits of any weak hyperlink on the opposing line.
Move Rush of the Week: Chargers LB Uchenna Nwosu
With the Ravens close to midfield and driving to win the sport with lower than 30 seconds remaining, the Chargers wanted somebody to step up and make a play.
Most would have anticipated that play to return from Ingram, Joey Bosa, or Derwin James, nevertheless it was rookie edge defender Uchenna Nwosu who secured the victory with a sack-fumble of Jackson that was recovered by Los Angeles:
On this play, Nwosu’s lined up on the sting with an out of doors shade over rookie proper sort out Orlando Brown. After the ball is snapped, Nwosu explodes out of his stance and pushes vertical for 2 steps.
Proper earlier than he will get inside placing distance, Nwosu executes a fast jab step towards Brown’s inside edge, which leads the offensive sort out to briefly shift his weight inside. This prevents Brown from getting a lot width on his go set, which provides Nwosu a brief nook. From there, Nwosu expands his rush exterior and makes use of a long-arm transfer together with his inside hand – which causes Brown to rotate on his spot – shortening the nook much more.
At that time, Nwosu’s footwork and stride size enable him to show the nook and flatten to Jackson earlier than knocking the ball free because the quarterback winds as much as throw.
It was a masterful show of shortening the nook utilizing footwork and hand method – one thing not often exhibited by a rookie – and it got here when the Chargers wanted it most.
Run Defender of the Week: Bears DT Eddie Goldman
The Chicago Bears might have suffered a gut-wrenching loss towards the Philadelphia Eagles, however that should not take away from defensive sort out Eddie Goldman‘s excellent efficiency towards the run. Chicago wanted Goldman to reap the benefits of his matchup, and that is precisely what he did all through the competition.
Goldman’s ultimate stat line (4 tackles) would not do his efficiency justice, because the fourth-year participant did a superb job of occupying blocks and clogging working lanes, which allowed his teammates to make performs. The Eagles averaged simply 1.83 yards per carry, largely resulting from Goldman’s presence within the inside.
In the meantime, every of Goldman’s tackles resulted in an unsuccessful play for the offense, as all 4 got here inside 1 yard of the road of scrimmage. The cease beneath is a superb instance of his dominance towards the run:
Nonetheless, when the ball is snapped, Goldman does an amazing job of mirroring and fascinating Seumalo, which makes it tough for Kelce to sq. up Goldman and push him off the spot. From there, Goldman leverages his superior hand placement to execute an arm-over transfer that beats Seumalo’s block and permits him to penetrate by means of for a sort out on the working again.
Though the Bears will likely be watching the subsequent spherical of the playoffs from residence, Goldman ought to maintain his head excessive after a successful efficiency towards the run. The 25-year-old was certainly one of Chicago’s most improved gamers this season and his future appears to be like vibrant.
Within the Highlight: Cowboys DT Antwaun Woods
The Dallas Cowboys employed one of many worst defensive sort out rotations within the league final season. When David Irving wasn’t within the sport, the group often struggled to make a optimistic affect towards the run or go.
That modified this season, thanks largely to the addition of Antwaun Woods, who’d performed in only one NFL sport earlier than signing with Dallas. The Cowboys challenged Woods to reduce weight in an effort to maximise his short-area quickness and explosiveness, and he obliged, coming into camp significantly lighter than he was in faculty with Tennessee.
Initially signed as a backup, Woods (actually) fought his method into the beginning nostril sort out gig as soon as the season started, and hasn’t seemed again. He did not put up probably the most spectacular stat line on paper – 34 tackles (two for a loss), 5 quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks in 15 video games – however the 26-year-old nonetheless supplied a ton of worth.
Actually, one purpose that Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith excelled this season is that Woods – a particularly highly effective participant who makes use of his pure leverage benefit successfully – typically occupies blockers and plugs gaps.
At instances, Woods has additionally displayed spectacular consciousness and quickness, which give him the flexibility to make performs exterior of his obligations. In opposition to the Seattle Seahawks within the wild-card spherical, he did simply that by blowing up a display go:
Right here, Woods is lined up with a slight inside shade over the Seahawks’ left guard. As soon as the ball is snapped, he does nicely to sq. up and have interaction the guard on the level of assault, which makes it onerous for Seattle’s middle to take over the block as soon as the left guard makes an attempt to leak out for the display. This frees up Woods to get his eyes into the backfield, establish the play, after which rush ahead to instantly sort out the working again.
Nostril tackles aren’t presupposed to blow up display passes eight yards behind the road of scrimmage, however Woods has proven he is greater than able to doing so. On this occasion, his effort and quickness had been on full show.
General, the Cowboys’ protection has been the most effective within the NFL this season, and the addition of Woods is likely one of the larger – and underrated – the explanation why.
John Proudly owning is a soccer author at theScore. He has written for Bleacher Report and Soccer Insiders. He was additionally the lead NFL content material editor at FanRag Sports activities. John supplies evaluation on the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning Information and edits for The Quant Edge. Discover him on Twitter @JohnOwning.