Want to see what good middle linebacker play looks like? Watch this Alabama prospect work.
14 Sep 2005
by Michael David Smith
Last year the Colts' Dwight Freeney beat the Ravens' Jonathan Ogden for two sacks, which caused the TV announcers to call the head-to-head battle a decisive win for Freeney. I watched them go at it on every play, and I found that Ogden won nearly every running play. I still gave the fight to Freeney, but in a much closer decision than most observers had it.
This year the two met in the opener, so what better way to start the season than scoring their rematch? As I did last year, I'll score each drive as a â€œround,â€? as if the battle were a boxing match.
The first play of the game demonstrated why Freeney, despite his admittedly impressive pass-rushing abilities, is an incomplete player. At the snap Freeney ran straight upfield, and Ogden just rode him out of the play. Jamal Lewis took a handoff and ran right past Freeney for nine yards. On the third play Freeney got great initial push against Ogden but then looked like he gave up on the play as Lewis converted a third-and-two. On the fourth play Freeney took too wide an angle and Ogden had no trouble pushing him aside. But then Freeney showed why he makes a difference despite his inconsistencies. On the fifth play of the drive, Freeney got past Ogden, pressured Boller, and Boller threw an interception. (Ogden also false-started on the play, but the officials missed it.) Freeney only beat Ogden on one play, but it was a big play.
On the first play Boller had plenty of time to pass. On the second play ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick said, â€œBoy is Freeney quick off the ball.â€? Yes, but Freeney quickly ran himself right past Jamal Lewis as he gained 25 yards. Ogden had a solid drive, stopping Freeney dead in his tracks on one screen as Lewis ran right past him.
We all know the storyline, right? Ogden is huge and powerful, Freeney is small and fast. But on this drive I saw something I never expected: Freeney bull-rushed Ogden and knocked him directly on his backside. The pressure from Freeney forced Boller to move in the pocket, where he was sacked by Larry Tripplett. A big play by Freeney.
Freeney had a spin move that went nowhere and a pass rush in which Ogden stopped him dead in his tracks. The ESPN announcers said Ogden was called for holding Freeney, but it was actually right tackle Tony Pashos who was called for holding. Overall a good drive for Ogden.
This was Freeney's best drive of the night. On the first play he tackled Lewis for a gain of a yard, and on the second play he stormed into the Ravens' backfield to take Lewis down behind the line of scrimmage. It was unclear on the play whether Ogden was supposed to block Freeney, but Ogden was clearly slow in getting started on the play, and on the very next play he overcompensated by false starting. It was a three-and-out drive, and Freeney beat Ogden on all three plays.
Two plays, nothing of note.
Ogden won every play, with Freeney never really getting close to making an impact. Freeney sat out a few plays, then came back in and stunted to the inside, getting stuck in traffic. Why, I ask, do the Colts ever run a stunt with Freeney going to the inside? He's an edge rusher, period, and it doesn't work to have him fighting through the middle of the line.
A three-and-out in which Freeney lined up opposite Ogden only on third down. And on that third down, Ogden false started, so we've got to give this drive to Freeney.
Did you see what happened on the play when Kyle Boller got hurt? Ogden engaged Freeney at the line of scrimmage, then Freeney used his spin move to the inside as Tripplett looped to the outside. Ogden let Freeney go and took on Tripplett, but he shoved Tripplett right into Boller's feet. Boller was out for the rest of the game. But we're judging Ogden vs. Freeney, not Ogden vs. Tripplett vs. Boller, so that play doesn't count against Ogden.
On the rest of the drive, Ogden dominated. He gave Anthony Wright great protection at the point of attack and forced Freeney to rush so far outside that he was never a factor. When Tripplett sacked Wright, ESPN's Paul Maguire said Tripplett got free because the Ravens were paying attention to Freeney, but in reality Ogden stopped Freeney just fine, but Edwin Mulitalo missed his block on Tripplett.
Freeney never got close to Wright. Is Ogden in better shape than Freeney? As the game wears on, Ogden is winning their individual battles more and more. I'd expect the smaller man to be in better condition, but it doesn't look that way.
Note: Wright gets rid of the ball more quickly than Boller, which makes Ogden's job a lot easier. In his career Wright has been sacked 36 times in 329 dropbacks, or one sack for each 10.1 dropbacks. Boller has been sacked 52 times in 374 dropbacks, or one sack for each 8.2 dropbacks.
A four-play drive in which Freeney and Ogden don't go head-to-head. Nothing to see here.
On the long completion to Derrick Mason, Freeney got a nice first step but Ogden simply put his hands on Freeney's shoulders and pushed him to the ground. On the next play Robert Mathis rushed past Ogden and got a sack and a forced fumble, but since this is Ogden vs. Freeney, Ogden wins the round.
This was the ultimate garbage time, so no scoring.
Going to the judge's scorecard, Ogden wins, 105-103, winning the rematch after losing to Freeney last season. But overall, I come away from the game thinking less highly of both players. Freeney showed that he takes himself out of way too many plays. And Ogden won against Freeney but had two very bad plays against other Colts, the sack and forced fumble by Mathis and the hit by Tripplett that injured Boller. If you had Ogden and Freeney penciled into two of your 2005 all-pro slots, you might want to reevaluate.
Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season. If you have a player or a unit you would like tracked in Every Play Counts, suggest it by emailing mike-at-footballoutsiders.com.
83 comments, Last at 09 Jan 2007, 2:34pm by Troy Miller