Jets got to Brady early and often in '09 victory. [The Star-Ledger]
Coming to OJT today is a look at pass rush in the National Football League from our friend Arden Franklyn, Jr., of Arden Sports Talk. Check out the show for everything from NBA to NFL and everything in-between.
As we all know, these are changing times in the NFL. The players get stronger and faster, coaches create new schemes, and rule changes are the topic of discussion at the owners' meeting. As usual with each season, both the fans and the media like to discuss different ways to win in today’s NFL. For the last few years, we have heard from all sides of the spectrum. Some feel the best way to win is to have a good quarterback. Others believe in having a strong running game. A few out there still live by the quote “Defense wins championships." But what about a strong pass rush? Is that needed to win in the NFL today? Personally, I think so.
Fact of the matter is that the NFL is turning into a passing league. There is no other way to deny it. We are in a time where passing for 4,000 yards is not as impressive as it once was. Just look at the quarterbacks in 2011 and 2012. Each season, we saw at least ten QBs pass for more than 4,000 yards. Add along the fact that today’s quarterbacks are stronger, faster, and more pro-ready than ever before, opposing defenses are facing new challenges every year and that’s why having a strong pass rush is important.
Having a great secondary can do wonders for a football team, but if your front seven can’t rush the quarterback, those corners and safeties are prone to giving up big plays. More offenses are willing to spread their receivers all over the field, giving their quarterback more options on a play. A strong pass rush can cancel that out. A strong pass rush isn’t affected by a particular offense or a quarterback. Don’t believe me? Ask San Francisco about Aldon and Justin Smith. Ask Baltimore about Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. Ask the New York Giants about Jason Pierre Paul; I mean the list goes on and on. More after the jump...
Some of the best teams in the NFL lead the league in sacks. If you look at last season, out of the top-15 teams, nine went to the playoffs.
Even though the stats matter, they do not tell the entire story. That’s why you have to watch the game. A team with a strong pass rush is never out of it. One key sack on third down, or a strip fumble on first down, can turn the momentum of a game in a switch. You can’t say that about secondaries. While some teams may have an elite cornerback, that guy is canceled out by the new tendency in the NFL—those who use three to four wide receiver sets to create mismatches and to avoid the other team’s best corner. The likely result is that the number two, three, and four cornerbacks, along with the safeties, probably have a hard day at work. A strong pass rush is more effective and is less likely to have those types of results.
Why? Here’s why: When an opposing offense is going against a defense, that’s main strength is to rush the quarterback and they do it very well, the offense is more than likely to make some adjustments.
You will see more formations where one or two tight ends are at the line of scrimmage. This is critical, because whenever you see the tight end at the line of scrimmage that normally means he is there to block. In today’s NFL, most tight ends have the athletic ability to play in the slot or outside, which makes them another wide receiver in a sense. A strong pass rush can even make a team go away from its belief’s. This team could be the Denver Broncos on offense with their high octane passing attack, going after every single part of the field. But against a strong pass rush, they will turn into the Minnesota Vikings and depend on their running game, and have their quarterback only throw short passes to avoid being hit.
If that’s not enough to convince you, just look at the recent Super Bowl winners. The Giants in 2007 and 2011 had a strong pass rush. The Packers in 2010 had a strong pass rush. The Steelers in 2008 had a strong pass rush. Heck a case could be made that the 2012 Ravens had a strong pass rush when they were healthy.
I said it earlier and I will say it again; the NFL is turning into a passing league. These quarterbacks will continue to get better not worse (unless it’s Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, or any QB that plays for the Raiders and Browns.) Defenses need to adjust as quickly as possible. The best way to do so, is to get a strong pass rush… trust me, it never fails.