Traveling on the road on a short week against a division leader is not an ideal situation for the Dolphins to be in, but such is the case, as tomorrow they’ll face off against the first place Houston Texans. One of the ugliest playoff contenders in the NFL, the Texans have somehow shaken off an 0-3 start and have won their last 4 games, granting them sole possession of first place in the sloppy AFC South.
A big reason for the Texans’ recent success has been star outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. A former first overall pick in the 2014 draft, Clowney has been balling for the last three seasons and is in a contract year with Houston. He currently has 4.5 sacks on the season, 10 quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, a touchdown, and nine tackles for a loss.
Clowney is coming off a big game against the Jaguars, where he had two sacks, two tackles for a loss, a fumble recovery, and four quarterback hits. It’s safe to say the Dolphins aren’t safe against this beast of a pass rusher, and Miami need a win in order to stay alive in the AFC Wild Card race.
For more on that, let’s break down Clowney’s film from last week against the Jaguars.
Clowney’s athleticism is clearly outstanding and it’s mixed in a perfect blend of his intelligence as a pass rusher and versatility. As an outside linebacker he’s capable of blitzing...well...outside, but was also dangerous blitzing elsewhere.
It’s no secret Clowney doesn’t respect Blake Bortles, and he shows that here on a blitz straight up the B-gap. He initially looks like he’s gonna cover the middle of the field, and when Bortles drops his head back under center, that’s when Clowney makes his move. He times the snap perfectly, turns on the acceleration and executes a swim move on the left guard Andrew Norwell—who has not been as good as he was in 2017 with the Panthers.
Clowney is able to heavily pressure Bortles and force him to make an errant throw.
On this play, Clowney again goes up the B-gap, but this time he terrorizes the right guard A.J. Cann. His lighting quick footwork on this play is captivating. Clowney executes a two-step jab and performs a juke move on Cann as he gets his first of two sacks on the day.
Clowney’s second sack came against Cody Kessler, who replaced Bortles at QB after Bortles was benched early in the second half. This time, the sack came when Clowney was lined up as an edge rusher.
Kessler has no time to react to this as the pressure takes place on his blind side. Clowney gets outside leverage by ducking as the left tackle turns his hips toward the sideline, and uses a sensational bend to make his way to Kessler, who he crushes for a sack he made look all too easy.
Along with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney is a nightmare for an offensive lineman. His combination of quickness, IQ, power, and athleticism have made him a household name as a pass rusher, and it’s no wonder he was selected #1 overall when he came into the league.
Should the Dolphins not contain Clowney, they’re in for a long day on Thursday Night.