It’s been awhile since we’ve done an All-22 post in this space. But we’re all football fans here, so I decided to take a look at the 10 sacks by the four playoff teams who stayed alive last weekend.
Here’s how the Texans, Ravens, Seahawks and Packers got to opposing quarterbacks.
Sack 1: Let’s start with J.J. Watt. He picked up his first sack of the postseason on a 3rd-and-13 play in the first quarter. The Texans rushed five, blitzing a linebacker and a safety, which set Watt up with a one-on-one against the center.
As you can see, outside linebacker Connor Barwin drops back. Watt lines up between the right guard and the right tackle, but takes his rush all the way to the A-Gap between the center and the left guard. The inside linebacker rushes the A-Gap between the center and the right guard. And safety Glover Quin, who was lined up against the tight end, blitzes off the edge.
Because the Bengals were expecting Barwin to rush the passer, they are left with a double-team on the left side. The center is no match for Watt, and he gets no help. Brian Leonard, the running back, has to slide over to pick up the blitzing linebacker.
Sack 2: The Texans’ second sack had nothing to do with protection. Cincinnati’s run-action called for the left guard to pull and block Brooks Reed off the edge.
Sack 3: The Packers sacked Joe Webb three times. Clay Matthews got perhaps the easiest sack of his career in the second quarter. And it easily could have been avoided. Webb had a couple places to go with the football after a play-fake to Adrian Peterson.
Webb tried to scramble, but when he backpedaled, he tripped over Matthews, who was on the ground. Webb had around four seconds to find a receiver.
Sack 4: This one wasn’t on Webb. He had nowhere to go with the football.
And B.J. Raji won his one-on-one matchup. The Vikings had six to block four, but Raji beat right guard Brandon Fusco, forcing Webb to step up into the arms of Erik Walden, who was credited with the sack.
Sack 5: This is Matthews at his finest. He just uses a speed rush on the edge against Matt Kalil.
At first, it looks like Matthews is blocked.
There’s no way he’s impacting this play, right?
Wrong. Matthews leaps at Webb and strips the football, causing a turnover. Webb had a nice pocket initially, but Matthews was able to get to him in just about three seconds for the forced fumble.
Sack 6: The Ravens will look to get after Peyton Manning this weekend. Against the Colts, outside linebacker Paul Kruger had a huge play in the first quarter. And look where he’s lined up.
The Wide-9 lives! The Ravens also blitz Ray Lewis.
Andrew Luck has a chance to hit T.Y. Hilton on the shallow cross, but he can’t get him the ball.
It could have been a big play too. Hilton had safety Bernard Pollard trailing.
Kruger got around Winston Justice and made a nice play to strip Luck and force the turnover.
Sack 7: The Ravens got to Luck again with a blitz later in the game. This time, corner Corey Graham came after him from the slot.
The interesting thing here is that the Colts had their protection set up nicely. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo slid off his man and was ready for Graham. Running back Vick Ballard was also there to help.
Most of the time, when corners blitz from the slot, they rush upfield, around the tackle. But Graham saw where Luck was in the pocket and undercut Castonzo for the sack. Really nice play by him. Even though he was coming from the slot, he never hesitated and got to Luck in about 2.3 seconds.
Sack 8: Nothing really to show here. Luck received a high snap, and Kruger flew off the ball, crushing him in less than two seconds. The Colts wanted an offsides call, but didn’t get it.
Sack 9: Gus Bradley’s defense sacked Robert Griffin III twice. This week, they’ll go up against Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
In the third quarter, the Redskins faked the option, but Griffin had nowhere to go with the football.
Rookie Bruce Irvin rushed off the edge and was double-teamed by the tight end and the running back. That left defensive tackle Alan Branch one-on-one against the right tackle for the sack.
Sack 10: Griffin was clearly hurting at this point. The Redskins ran a bootleg, he thought about going deep, but eventually just held on to the ball as Irvin picked up the sack.
But take a look at the Seahawks pre-snap alignment.
They’ve got four down linemen. The Seahawks run a hybrid 4-3/3-4. Bradley explained the defensive philosophy during an interview last year.
“We’ve really developed this defense so that you can play multiple,” he said. “It’s not as advanced maybe as some 3-4 teams and maybe not as advanced as some 4-3 teams, but we can do both. And that’s where I think creates some issues for offenses. They look and they go, ‘We can’t put in our 3-4 plan or our 4-3 plan because they do both.’ And it might limit some of the things that they do.”
Bradley is scheduled to interview with the Eagles this week.