(Bandwidth warning - lots of pics)
Perhaps no one play Sunday night has sparked as much commentary and speculation here as the first Dallas touchdown. Dallas running back Phillip Tanner (34) just barely got the ball to the goal line on a second and goal from inside the one. In real time we saw Jason Trusnik (93) and Austin Spitler (53) hit Tanner in the hole and basically stop him on the goal-line. At the same time two bodies came flying back out of the pile; one was second year Dallas TE Andre Smith (87) and the other was Dolphin rookie Dion Jordan (95).
My first reaction was that Smith was actually Tanner and someone had made an incredible goal-line hit. Not so much. My second reaction was wow, Jordan just threw that guy to the ground...which was the case. On the face of it that's a mistake. Jordan's job was to get rid of his blocker, penetrate and blow up the play anyway he can, ideally by making a tackle for a loss.
So he screwed up. Never mind for the moment it was his third play in the NFL, his job there is to get rid of Smith not dance with him. In the ensuing analysis here it has been suggested that the play is proof that the 6'6'" - 250ish Jordan lacks both the strength and the leverage to be a successful, let alone dominant NFL defensive end. More than one "expert" analyst has stated he will be a liability against the run.
So, inspired Strange's video breakdown of Johnathan Martin and Chris' (Duke) frame by frame approach to the same, I decided to take a close look at this play to see if I could figure out what really happened and what, if anything we could learn about Jordan.
1: At the snap Jordan is lined up head on Dallas second year tight-end Andre Smith.
Smith is 6'5, 267. So he's an inch shorter and at least 10 lbs heavier than Jordan.
Jordan comes off the ball hard and low, just as he's supposed to. I've watched some video of Jordan at Oregon and one of my impressions is he's not as quick off the ball as I thought he'd be. He's fast enough, but I guess I was expecting Wake-quick. I would expect he'd get better at it by working with Wake and Vernon, especially considering how quick-twitch the rest of his game is.
2: Jordan engages Smith.
He's underneath Smith, which is good, but what we can't see is Smith has his hands inside Jordan's, which is bad.
3: And here we see the immediate result of Jordan's mistake.
Smith is jacking Jordan up trying to get him back off his center of gravity. If Smith can get Jordan's weight off his toes and onto his heels, it's over. The bend in his back is never a good sign.
4: Basically the same moment from a different angle.
What Jordan is doing right here is keeping a wide base and his knees bent. Looking Past Smith we can see that lead blocker Colin Cochart is heading right for Jordan's gap.
5: Jordan has managed to drop down and not get blown out of the hole.
He has, at worst a stand off with Smith. He has accomplished the bare minimum of what's expected here. He hasn't allowed Smith to move him so instead of a hole there is two bodies.
6: Jordan now has leverage and is heading through Smith's inside shoulder.
Right behind Jordan is Trusnik who is heading into the hole while Cochart is lining him up. Tanner has decided to hit it up inside. I can't tell for sure, but given the angle of Jordan's head it's possible he read through Smith to Tanner, which is exactly what he's supposed to do.
7a/b: In this sequence we can see Jordan has managed to penetrate to the inside.
He's a yard upfield, despite the fact Smith met him on the goal-line. Even better he's on the same side of Smith as Tanner. That's the good news. The bad news is Smith still has him locked up and has him twisted sideways. It's over. There is no way in this body position that Jordan is going to do anything but go to the turf with Smith on top of him.
8: Same moment, different angle.
All of Jordan's weight is on his left leg and he is all but done. On the plus side Spitler is standing right in the hole and Jordan's penetration is a big reason why Tanner has nowhere else to go.
9: Jordan has basically played his part in whether or not Tanner will score.
That is up to Trusnik and Spitler. Jordan, of course, doesn't know that and is only concerned with winning his battle with Smith. Funny thing: it ain't over. Somehow he got his right foot down and managed to prevent Smith from pancaking him.
10: Jordan is now driving off his left leg and using the momentum of their rotation to get Smith off-balance.
11: Jordan is now under Smith and proceeds over the next three frames to basically pick him up and throw him to the ground 3 yds behind the spot where they first engaged.
To be clear, from a football standpoint, this is not a great play. Jordan essentially did his job. A lot of coaches would score this a draw, some a win and some a loss. All of them would want Jordan to get rid of Smith instead of what he did. If you can throw him, you can shed him.. What this really is however, is a display of ridiculous athletic ability and yes, strength.
If Jordan is coached properly this kind of freakish balance, quickness and co-ordination could be honed into a remarkable defensive weapon.