Lots of debate over the last couple of days regarding our NT's. One thing is for sure, though, Jerrell Powe impressed a lot of people Friday night.
I've re-watched Anthony Toribio's snaps and given my thoughts. T29 re-watched Dontari Poe's snaps and given his thoughts. And still the debate rages.
The only answer, of course, is to give craig what he wants and look at Powe BY THE SNAP! If some of you will recall, I was predicting coming into this year that Powe was going to impress. So far, he's been buried behind Toribio and Poe on the depth chart. But how did he play out there? Let's take a look, and see if we've got that wonderful problem that is "too many big men."
*****Before I start, it's worth noting that Powe came in late in the 3rd quarter. So all expectations and hopes must be tempered down when understanding that he was going up against the Cardinal's versions of Ron Bruggeman and Rich Ranglin. Just something worth remembering.
Also, I don't have a ton of time, so we're going to do this as quickly as possible. That means no proofreading, no major details about the plays, and not many sidenotes (I know, I know, I'll do more next time).Snap 1
Gets a good jump at the snap and gets penetration almost immediately. The problem is, the center uses Powe's focus on penetrating and pushes him further to his (Powe's) right, causing him to miss the RB. The RB then proceeds to run through the hole left by Powe's absence for a gain of 3 (OT, nice play by Siler to limit the gain).
Again, I'm not going to do a ton of commentary, but it's worth noting that although Powe looked great upon first viewing the play, it was in fact his fault that the RB gained anything. Had he not shot the gap and instead stayed put, that run goes nowhere. Love his strength and athleticism, but gap-shooting is not his job.
Pass play. Powe is doubled, and succeeds in moving them backward. He doesn't get too close to the QB, but close enough to at least cause him to have to move to his left in the pocket. A nice play IMO.
Running play, one-on-one against the C. Does a good job getting push, but the C manages to direct him away from the run by keeping his body between Powe and the RB. Although he doesn't have a real impact, he certainly prevented the runner from having any kind of cutback option (though the RB didn't need one on a gain of 8). Also, he forces the RB to have to get horizontal and move towards the edge quickly to avoid him, rather than heading downhill right away.
Takes on two blockers and holds up strong, moving laterally and forming a "wall" the RB has to avoid on a run to the left. Doesn't make the tackle, but a good play.
Now THIS is how you play the run as a NT, Powe! He's up against the C with a G chipping on his way out. Doesn't move an inch. The RB bounces off the C and would've been tackled for no gain had the rest of our boys done their job and wrapped up.
SACK! Pre-snap, Poe and the RDE shift to the right, lining Powe up between the C and the LG. Clearly here, his assignment was to shoot the gap. And he does it excellently, carrying the C and LG to the QB for a very, very impressive sack (extra props for a land shark celebration. That was awesome). It wasn't just strength that helped him do this. He was very quick into the gap and didn't allow either the LG or the C to get their body in front of him.
Run play. C and RG get their bodies on him and push him backward a few yards. Not a great play for Powe (although at least he didn't get pancaked), but he was clearly the DL they were worried about, so that's something, right? (my Powe-loving side is clearly taking over)
Another run up the gut. This time the C stands him up alone and shoves him back, allowing the runner to gain a first down on a 5 yard run or so. Worst play he's had so far IMO.
Nevermind. THIS was the worst play I've seen so far. Run up the middle, C just manhandles and pancakes him.
Pass play. Powe shifts to the right pre-snap and attempts to shoot the gap between C and LG. They stonewall him completely and he makes zero progress towards the QB. There's been a noticeable dropoff in his play over the last few snaps.
Pass play. Doesn't get much penetration, but does draw 3 blockers when he starts moving his first 2 back... if you surround him with better players that'd likely end in a sack for someone.
Shotgun pass. Powe doesn't get much push, but the ball comes out pretty quickly.
Another shotgun pass. This time, Powe does better, pushing the C back and throwing the helping G out of the way. He was closing in on the QB when the ball was thrown. Pretty nice play.
Another shotgun pass. Powe's stopped by the RG when he tries to bull rush.
ANOTHER shotgun pass. Powe is doubled and stopped in his tracks, turning sideways in his attempts to get by (NO, Jerrell... NO. That's a BAD NT!!! We don't turn sideways!!!)
The shotgun plays are making me want to punch a baby. But then... SACK-FUMBLE! No, not by Powe. But he draws a double team, and then helps stop the QB from scrambling. Pretty good stuff.
Run up the middle. Powe is very clearly trying to 2-gap, and he clearly isn't comfortable doing it (at least this particular play). The C and LG push him back about 3-4 yards. He started off basically only minding the C/LG gap, then tried to cover the other gap when the run went that direction. Of course the problem is that by then, both OL are between him and the RB and just blow him backward.
Shotgun. Pass. TD. Powe is stonewalled by the C. bleh.
Shotgun pass. Powe draws double team and really SMACKS them both. Play ends in a sack as the rest of the D swarms. Pretty nice contribution from Powe, even though he didn't get any push.
Shotgun pass. Powe tries to shoot gap between C and LG, doesn't have much success (although he does push them back a little). Attempted spin move doesn't do a whole lot, but was fun to see.
Shotgun pass. Powe draws a double team and makes them work for it. This is a FORCED double, where the RG has to come help the C because Powe is winning the shoving match. The RG helping out on Powe leaves a gap wide open for the blitzing LB to come flying through and get the sack. Really nice play.
------ And that's that. It's tough to draw conclusions based off snaps against scrubs, but Powe played well out there. He does a nice job getting penetration, especially when asked to shoot gaps. He does still clearly have technique issues to work on, and I didn't see the dominating force some here have been describing (I think many of Powe's rave reviews go to show how in love we are with flashy plays), but I definitely saw a guy who belongs on the team.
His jump at the snap is probably what impresses me the most about him. Many have pointed out the Poe is slow off the snap, and this hurts him tremendously as he's playing catchup. Powe, on the other hand, is moving before anyone else almost every time, and it's a real advantage for him.
If I were to say there was a reason Powe behind Toribio, I'd say it's consistency. I watched Toribio's snaps too, if you'll recall. And while he only made one "flashy" play (that great stuff where he demolished the center), I didn't see him make a single "bad" play. He didn't get pushed back, he didn't shoot into a bad gap, he didn't turn sideways. So he wasn't great many plays, but he wasn't bad ANY plays.
While one can say, "well sure, but Toribio was playing with studs" we need to also remember that Toribio was going against 1st string linemen. So it's tough to say what's more impressive.
Anyways, my theory would have to be that while Toribio's ceiling is lower than Powe's on any given play, so is his floor. He's not as likely to make a huge play, but he's also not as likely to make a mistake and hurt the defense. Knowing what I know about RAC, I'd say this is why Toribio is 1st string and Powe is not.
Know this, though... if Powe gets those "bad plays" under control, he'll be an absolute force.