On Pass Rush: Rasheem Green is a different player

Rasheem Green continues to grow into his NFL body in his second year as a pro. A productive rookie preseason signaled promise, but an ensuant ankle sprain was in part responsible for a faltering rookie campaign. But the flash of proficient hand use and the power demonstrated in college are starting to reveal themselves again.

In the past month, Green has been a consistent presence on Seattle’s defensive line in both phases — though perhaps more in the run game (check out an excellent breakdown of his run defense from 5-technique by Matty Brown here).

As pass rushing goes, Green has been building his current game off of power. This is an interesting diversion from what made his NFL initiation in the 2018 pre-season so interesting, when he was winning routinely with a strength-finesse game while rushing the outside track (as opposed to down the center of an offensive tackle) exclusively. Perhaps that was because the average preseason tackle lacks the foot speed to match his rush arc. In the 2019 regular season, Green has struggled to win the outside or secure positioning on speed for himself, but the technique that was displayed in the aforementioned preseason is finally starting to apply to his adapted, power-oriented rush style that we are seeing this year.

In the here and now, Green finds himself as a flexible power rusher that has a multitude of maneuvers facilitating outside and inside escape moves to get clean into the pocket.

With power being the main theme, let’s take a look at just how respectable his bull-rush has proved to be. Here he is aligned at left end on the bottom of the screen:

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The Eagles’ tackles in that match up were lacking greatly, but any NFL tackle worthy of starting that gets decleated speaks to the individual doing the decleating.

This time from right end, Rasheem bull-rushes the left tackle all the way into the quarterback’s platform and affects the delivery of the pass:

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His ability to shed tackles after bull-rushing will always give his power rushes from tighter alignments life as well as the angles aren’t conducive for spilling a blocker all the way into the quarterback’s lap like the above.

Here he is again from left end:

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Green’s ability to supplement his power rushes with hand activity will always mean that an inside or outside escape is viable.

Here, while rushing a tight end on a full slide, he is able to get into the backfield by killing the blocker’s ability to obstruct him with a clean fork-club-rip procession:

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While you can’t expect a tight end to hold out long on a defensive end, it’s a match up that Green *should* win and he does so handily (and handedly).

So the power is established. What has been — and will continue to be — the most pivotal aspect of Green’s growth is his ability to open up the outside. He has the hands for it, he has the angles, he has the pass-set knowledge. What he doesn’t have is the speed to gain sufficient depth on the tackle’s set quickly enough before getting too deep on the quarterback. Earlier in the year, Green introduced dramatic jab-step’s to get tackles to hesitate and lose ground — and it worked. Oddly, though, he seems to have abandoned this strategy and is instead rushing mostly straight down the center of the tackle. Perhaps that’s just a product of being aligned so tightly for the run as Ken Norton Jr. has been aligning his “big-ends” in tight 5-technique alignments (opposed to a “loose” 5 or 7/9-technique). Nonetheless, his power is sold enough that he can open up outside off of it.

Take a look here for this sack from right end:

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Green bullrushes and is able to pop the tackle back. The lineman sets relatively close and doesn’t worry about gaining depth, preparing for a bullrush. Instead, Green is able to reengage, but concurrently churns his hips and toes through toward the quarterback while gaining depth on the tackle. The initial engagement shortens the set, but the supremely fluid transition into a “half-man” position on the tackle (Green’s inside half is aligned with the tackle’s outside half) allows for Green to reengage the tackle with a clearance move — using a violent outside chop move to defeat the tackle’s outside punch. With the tackle’s outside arm defeated, and Green’s relative positioning on him, he is home free at about five yards, which is considerably shallow. Both his aforementioned hip turn and impressive flexibility for his size allow him to bend a tight corner and bring down the quarterback, killing the play solo.

Ultimately, it’s a fantastic snap from Green and is emblematic of his ability to manufacture hard angles on the outside without the need for speed that he doesn’t currently possess.

While Green can continue to press the current development track he is on — essentially maximizing the traits and methods that coalesce into the pass rusher that he is right now — and become an impact player, the jury is still not out on him improving foot speed, which would add yet another dimension to his tool-belt and put further stress on offensive tackles. After all, the jump in his functional power output from year one to two has been eye-popping. At only 22, he is yet to peak athletically, so we may see more lower body explosion next year after an offseason’s worth of emphasis in that arena.