Defensive Line All-Stars: A look back at Week 12's standouts
After another slate filled with sacks, stops and stuffs, let's break down the standout defensive linemen from Week 12:
Defensive Lineman of the Week: DE Joey Bosa, Chargers
Joey Bosa made his season debut in Week 11, but he wasn't truly back until Week 12, as the Los Angeles Chargers' star pass-rusher recorded five tackles, two quarterback hits, and two sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.
When healthy, Bosa might be the best young edge defender in the NFL, with the ability to dominate against the run and pass. He possesses silky-smooth footwork that he pairs with active, accurate hands. All of that was on full display against the Cardinals:
Here, Bosa's lined up with an outside shade over Cardinals right tackle Andre Smith. As soon as the ball is snapped, he explodes out of his stance and pushes vertical as he attempts to race Smith up the edge.
Once he gets within striking distance, Bosa quickly bobs inside, drawing out Smith's strike, which he counters beautifully with a two-hand swipe that effectively shortens the corner and allows him to start flattening to the quarterback. From there, Bosa brings down Josh Rosen for the sack.
Bosa wasn't done there, recording another sack while showcasing his impressive hand technique to shorten the corner:
On this play, Bosa's once again aligned with an outside shade over Smith. After the ball is snapped, Bosa veers slightly outside before turning his hips toward the pocket. This gives him a more favorable angle of entry into his pass rush because it puts the quarterback in his direct path.
Once he gets within distance, Bosa executes a well-timed long arm with his inside arm. That creates the separation needed to flatten to the quarterback while executing a forklift move with his outside hand, which clears the right tackle's point of contact, effectively shortening the edge.
From there, Bosa maintains his momentum despite some ancillary contact from Smith (who was released following the game) and brings down Rosen.
The Chargers were already one of the best teams in the AFC without Bosa, but his presence should give them a real shot to make some noise in the playoffs.
Pass Rush of the Week: DE Myles Garrett, Browns
Here, Garrett's aligned with an outside shade over Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn. As soon as the ball's snapped, Garrett explodes upfield, forcing Glenn to prematurely turn his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage to try and keep up, which gives Garrett a soft edge to the quarterback.
In three steps, Garrett's already gobbled up 5 yards, and once he starts to turn his hips to align with the quarterback, he reduces his inside shoulder, effectively limiting his blockable surface area. From there, Garrett's stride length and frequency allow him to absorb the contact without it affecting his momentum or his path to the quarterback.
Once the QB hits the top of his drop, Garrett's already within a step, allowing him to record the sack. It's simple, yet almost impossible to stop.
In his second season, Garrett's not the most refined pass-rusher and doesn’t have a ton of moves in his repertoire. However, his speed rush - when executed well - is already one of the best trump cards in the NFL.
Run Defender of the Week: DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers
Vita Vea was the 12th overall selection in the spring, and he's starting to realize his potential after a pesky calf injury took away his training camp and preseason.
Against the San Francisco 49ers, Vea had the best game of his short career, recording four tackles and a sack. His best work came against the run, as he controlled and penetrated his gap to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Here's one of them:
Here, Vea's aligned directly over 49ers center Weston Richburg. The Niners are attempting to execute an outside zone play, where the goal is to horizontally stretch the front side of Tampa Bay’s defense in hopes of creating an open crease for the running back.
But Vea has other plans. He outpaces right guard Mike Person's attempted reach block - meant to force him inside - and bullies his way into the backfield for the tackle.
Not many 347-pound men have the quickness to penetrate and make a tackle just as the running back receives the ball, but that's exactly what Vea does here. It's a huge reason why Tampa Bay spent its first-round pick on him.
In the Spotlight: LB Matt Judon, Baltimore Ravens
In the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Matt Judon recorded three sacks on three straight snaps. Incredibly, that doubled his combined total from the first 10 games of the season.
And Judon was simply dominant on all three sacks, which came against Raiders right tackle Brandon Parker. On his first, Judon leveraged a quick get-off and a powerful rip move to beat Parker on his way to sacking Derek Carr. The sack even forced a fumble that was picked up and run back for a touchdown by teammate Terrell Suggs.
Judon then used the exact same move to beat Parker on each of the next two plays. Here's a look at his third sack:
Here, Judon begins in a two-point stance aligned with an outside shade over Parker. After the ball's snapped, he does a great job of selling the speed rush while getting his hips square to Parker, giving himself options on either side of the tackle.
Once he gets within distance, Judon places his inside hand on the inside shoulder of Parker while allowing the tackle to attain inside placement with his inside arm. Then, with Parker’s momentum pulling him upfield, Judon rotates his shoulders - making it difficult for the tackle to latch on - while pulling on Parker's inside shoulder. This breaks the tackle's grip and gives Judon a wide-open lane to the inside for the sack.
The Ravens are looking for their next premier pass-rusher as Suggs enters the twilight of his career. At 6-foot-3 and 261 pounds, the 26-year-old Judon possesses the necessary frame and athleticism to be that guy - he just needs to become more consistent. Perhaps this big game will jump-start a stellar closing stretch of the season.
John Owning is a football writer at theScore. He has written for Bleacher Report and Football Insiders. He was also the lead NFL content editor at FanRag Sports. John provides analysis on the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and edits for The Quant Edge. Find him on Twitter @JohnOwning
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