Secrets to Cameron Jordan's Game

New Orleans Saints DE Cameron Jordan
New Orleans Saints DE Cameron Jordan
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 3 - We begin this week with a programming note. Due to a couple of unforeseen circumstances, I had to write about the Buccaneers again. I apologize. The original plan was to write about the Eagles offense on Monday night, but I couldn't get access to coaches tape from that unit until after the time I needed to start on the column. And with Mike Tanier covering the Bengals a couple of days ago, we decided to just cover the Bucs again this week. It was unfortunate, but it happens.

The nice thing about covering the same team in back-to-back weeks early, though, is that you get to see a little of what they do well as opposed to just taking advantage of something their first opponent might have done poorly. In Week 1, the Bucs had a lot of success with Leonard Fournette on the ground. In Week 2, they tried to stick with the run, but they had much less success. Some of it was execution or lack thereof from the Bucs, but some of it was just playing a better run defense last week.

This looks like Duo to me, and while the play-side double team looks nice, pretty much everything else on this play is a struggle. The upback (Ko Kieft, 41) slips in the backfield, and I think that really messes with Fournette's read. Once he sees the fall, Fournette pretty much immediately tries to bounce it outside, which is something that you never really want to do on Duo—especially when Cameron Jordan (94) is absolutely demolishing your tight end. Look at Jordan get into the blocker's chest and knock him back. Then he extends his arms to be able to see the play, and finally sheds the blocker to make a tackle. That's clinic tape from him, and the Bucs tight ends struggling as run-blockers was a big story of the game.

I do think if Fournette would have stuck it up inside, despite the upback slipping, he would have had a nice 4-yard gain or so, mainly because the double team between Tristan Wirfs and Shaq Mason is so effective. The key is how they get hip-to-hip and form a mass of humanity. They don't leave any air for the defensive tackle (Kentavius Street, 91) to split them and start walking him back. By the time Fournette is tackled, they have knocked the defensive tackle 5 yards off the ball.

The backside double team isn't as good. I don't know what center Robert Hainsey is doing here, but it looks like he's trying to pass a slanting nose tackle (Christian Ringo, 57) off to Mason at right guard. That's a lot to ask of a right guard who is involved with a play-side double team, to come off that block and pick up the back-side nose. I really think Hainsey has to stick with the nose here.

Remember how Cameron Jordan kicked the dog out of the tight end on the last play? This is worse. Jordan (94) quick-swims the tight end (Cameron Brate) and completely wrecks the play. It's a shame because once again, the play-side double team looks great. This time the 3-technique (David Onyemata, 93) is more clearly playing over the guard, so Wirfs collapses him into the A-gap where Mason can easily take him. Then the right tackle gets up the field to pick up the Mike linebacker (Demario Davis, 56) scraping over the top when Brate's corpse rolls into the back of his legs to trip him up.

I wanted to show these two early plays because a lot goes into the running game. It really takes all 11 guys to make it work (even the quarterback, who has to get you in the right play) to run the football effectively. The difference between an electric running game in Week 1 and a plodding, down-wasting run game in Week 2 may not have much to do with the offensive line itself.

Sometimes, though, it is the offensive line that causes the issue. Here is a fourth-and-short that Tampa Bay failed to convert, and this is just bad football. This looks like they're trying to run a trap—everyone is running something that closely resembles a trap at least. The way the right guard (Shaq Mason, 69) and right tackle (Tristan Wirfs, 78) part to influence the defensive tackle (Street, 91) up the field looks like every trap you have ever seen. If it is a trap though, this may be the worst trap block in organized football history by rookie Luke Goedeke (67). Pop Warner is rolling over in his grave as we speak.

The most basic coaching points on the trap, that guards are taught when they're 8 years old, is to get depth to clear the center, attack downhill, and get your helmet on the up-field side. Running by the defensive tackle with one arm like you're an airplane buzzing the flight tower is something I haven't seen before. This is so bad I'm still not sure it's a trap despite all the other evidence. Goedeke also had some trouble in pass protection for the second week in a row, and he's off to a bit of a slow start in his rookie campaign.

I'm also curious who is supposed to block the Mike (Davis, 56). Usually on a trap against a Bear front, which this looks like, the center has to take the nose man up, and the play-side guard climbs to the backer. But the center (Robert Hainsey, 70) blocks back and the guard (Mason, 69) comes down on the nose so the Bucs don't have anyone for the Mike. Looking at how left tackle Josh Wells (72) comes down to block the back-side 3-technique makes me think the center made a back call he shouldn't have.

It wasn't all bad for the run game though. I thought they did some good things, it's just that the Saints' run fits were much better than Dallas', so even when plays were well-blocked, they might only result in 6 or 7 yards. This is outside zone for Tampa Bay, and they block it really well. Mason at right guard in particular does a superb job of hooking his man (Street, 91) off the snap (it helps that his man was playing that inside A-gap) and flipping his hips to seal him inside without getting pushed back into the hole.

Tristan Wirfs is also really good here. He does a great job of taking his track, knocking the defensive end (Tanoh Kpassagnon, 90) onto the tight end and then climbing to the second level and swallowing the linebacker (Pete Werner, 20). This is an extremely well-blocked play that gets the back onto the safety with nothing but an arm from the defensive end late.

This is another well-blocked play where they get the back on the safety. This is the counter play that Tampa Bay had success with last week as well. The double team from Wells at left tackle (72) and Goedeke at left guard (67) turns into single blocks real quick when the defensive tackle pinches inside. Wells does a nice job of keeping his shoulders square so that when the defensive tackle disappears, he's able to redirect and climb to the second level and block the linebacker.

Mason (69) is the puller and does an OK job of kicking out the defensive end. It's not a dominant block, but it gets the job done. Fournette finishes the run and inflicts some punishment on the safety. You'd love to make him miss, but if you don't make him miss, making him pay isn't a bad option.

Again, I apologize for having to review the same team two weeks in a row. Come back next week and I promise we'll talk about the Bengals or the Eagles, or anyone else but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


6 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2022, 4:01pm

#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 23, 2022 - 12:37pm

Jordan in that second play took out the inline TE (Otton? I can't make out his number) into the TE coming across as an H-back, then tosses them both into the RT, who dominoes into the RG. Jordan took out four blockers with one rush and then wiped out the RB. That's incredible.

Points: 0

#2 by Raiderfan // Sep 23, 2022 - 12:41pm

No apologies needed.  Everything you write is golden.

Points: 0

#3 by Pat // Sep 23, 2022 - 12:43pm

The original plan was to write about the Eagles offense on Monday night, but I couldn't get access to coaches tape from that unit until after the time I needed to start on the column.


but... but... that Vikings game was so good from an offensive line standpoint. Such... gigantic... rushing lanes. And it was a major improvement from week 1, which Kelce blamed on a lot of new stuff + loud atmosphere + just bad communication on his part.

Man, I'm depressed now. I seriously was crossing my fingers hoping you were going to cover that game and now it turns out that was the plan, but it didn't happen.

Points: 0

#4 by KnotMe // Sep 23, 2022 - 1:07pm

This is still cool however. 

Points: 0

#5 by theslothook // Sep 23, 2022 - 1:42pm

A few years ago Ben muth was on a podcast with Rivers mcCown and Danny Tuccito and was asked the following question. You could have five slightly average offensive lineman or one that was featuring two great players and two lousy players and one average person or something in that vein. What would he choose and why.

The answered with assuming that the quarterback was not Peyton Manning, If you were a team centered around passing the ball, you'd prefer the five average offensive lineman. But if you are running the ball, you would prefer the latter choice because five average offensive lineman Begets basically not good enough rush results. I wonder if Ben would change his mind after watching this tape because it feels like the bad offensive lineman completely undid whatever good The great lineman were able to accomplish.

Points: 0

#6 by KnotMe // Sep 23, 2022 - 4:01pm

Makes sense. Well, in pass protection, you worry about the weakest link. (i.e. the defense is the attacker in a sense since they try to get to the QB). On run plays, the offence is the attacker, since they try to make a whole. 

It might depend a bit on where the players are too. (Both lousy players next to each other is probably bad. ) 

Points: 0

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