From the Sidelines

Kerrigan, Wake and Mack highlight best sacks of the week

16 October, 2016: Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) celebrates during a match between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire)
Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire

The sack is one of the most beautiful sites that can be witnessed on a football field when it is done right.

It can be done in numerous ways by a variety of body types and athletic profiles. Oftentimes, a sack can swing momentum to the defense’s favor. It can halt an offense’s progress, and it can rattle a quarterback. The ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks is important, but it is even more vital to bring them down regularly.

Just like the NFL pays for touchdowns, it also pays for sacks as evidenced by the exuberant contracts given to Justin Houston, Von Miller and J.J. Watt (three of the best pass-rushers in the NFL). The NFL is in the midst of a weird year sack wise as the league leaders in sack consists of players such as Lorenzo Alexander, Vic Beasley, Markus Golden, Willie Young and Trent Murphy along with perennial sack leaders like Von Miller and Ryan Kerrigan.

Just like everyone expected.

No Khalil Mack, no Ezekiel Ansah, no Everson Griffin and no Michael Bennett. Even though these players will likely rise as the season progresses, the NFL is seeing new sack masters. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best sacks of the week and break them down.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best sacks of the week and break them down.

Power-rush of the week: Ryan Kerrigan

Kerrigan is lined up wide against Detroit Lions right tackle Riley Reiff. At the snap, Kerrigan explodes upfield to stress Reiff’s kick slide. Reiff thinks Kerrigan is going to try to sharpen the corner with a speed rush to his outside, so he begins to open the gate in an attempt to run Kerrigan past the pocket; however, the Redskins pass-rusher times it perfectly and executes a stellar bull rush, which he uses to reverse pancake Reiff and sack Matthew Stafford.

Notice how Kerrigan plays with great pad level and body lean to get under Reiff’s pads and win the leverage battle, which allows him to toss the right tackle to the side on his way to the passer.

Kerrigan is criminally underrated as a pass-rusher, and it is time that he gets the respect he deserves.

Speed-rush of the week: Cameron Wake

Wake is lined up outside of the right tackle, and once the ball is snapped, he fires off the line of scrimmage and works slightly to the outside so that he can capture the edge against the right tackle’s wide pass set. What Wake does next is something that he abused poor offensive linemen with for years.

Wake uses his outside hand to grab above the right tackle’s shoulder pad and use it as a lever to pull the right tackle over his toes so that it would compromise the tackle’s ability to block the speedy pass-rusher. After that, Wake rips through the right tackle’s arms and closes on the quarterback for the sack.

Wake has been one of the speed rushers in the NFL for the last six years. He may be getting up there in age (34), but he can still get after the passer as good as any.

Rookie sack of the week: Joey Bosa

Bosa has only played in three games, but he has put his mark on each and every game thus far. The former Ohio State defensive end has accumulated four sacks in those three games as he has been a terror for opposing quarterbacks alongside Melvin Ingram, who is one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL in his own respect.

On this play, Bosa is lined up at right defensive end outside of left tackle Jake Matthews, who has played well this year. Bosa doesn’t get a great jump off the snap, but he shows incredible hand usage to get to the quarterback. Bosa engages Matthews with good pad level and hand placement, which allows him to extend his inside arm to create separation between him and Matthews.

Notice Bosa’s hand placement with his right hand as he uses it to strip the grip Matthews has on his chest. This gives Bosa the ability to work to Matthews’ edge, utilize a rip move to get free and get to the quarterback.

Despite being a rookie, Bosa has shown veteran level technique, motor and savviness to generate pressure for the Chargers. Bosa should have a long and fruitful career in the NFL, even if it didn’t start as smoothly as it should have.

Set up of the week: Khalil Mack

Don’t let the number fool you, Mack has been extremely effective thus far this year. He is occupying blocks and creating pressure, but he just hasn’t been able to finish. On this play, Mack does a great job finishing.

Mack is lined up at left defensive end with an outside shade on the right tackle. At the snap, Mack takes a hard inside step to give the right tackle the impression that he is darting inside. As the right tackle reacts inside, Mack bursts upfield with a quick swim move to clear the right tackle’s hands along with a rip move to prevent the tackle from re-engaging, which allows him to get the sack.

Khalil Mack is still an elite pass-rusher no matter what the box score says. Expect him to start accumulating more sacks as the season progresses, which will culminate with his name among the sack leaders once again.

Upset sack of the week: Leonard Floyd

Sometimes a pass-rusher can beat an offensive tackle that he has no business beating. This is exactly what Leonard Floyd did against left tackle David Bakhtiari. The Green Bay Packers offensive tackle has played as well as any offensive tackle this year, and he rarely gets beat.

On this play, Floyd feints like he is going to try and speed around the egde, but he digs his foot in the grass and works inside of the left tackle. It catches Bakhtiari off guard as he set flat to combat Floyd’s speed. Once Floyd redirects inside, Bakhtiari isn’t in a good position to prevent Floyd from advancing, which allows Floyd to get to Bakhtiari’s inside edge. Then Floyd fights through Bakhtiari and the left guard’s attempted blocks on his way to the sack.

Overall, Bakhtiari got the better of Floyd throughout the game, but on this one play, the rookie got the better of the elite left tackle.

Other notable sacks

Cleveland Browns rookie pass-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah had a stellar day against the Cincinnati Bengals, which resulted in two sacks.  This one was particularly impressive:

Ogbah is a very linear player who lacks bend to get around the edge, but he can be adept at utilizing power. The rookie defensive end uses superior pad level and great foot frequency to walk the offensive tackle back until he can disengage and get the sack.

In the same game, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a nice sack of his own:

Dunlap lines up at a wide-9 technique at left defensive end. When the ball is snapped, Dunlap works his way upfield, and at the contact point, he executes a beautiful long arm to gain leverage on the right tackle. This exposes the offensive lineman’s edge, which allows Dunlap to use a rip move to get free and make his way to the quarterback for the sack.

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