SECRET’S OUT: Keep Wilson in the Pocket
A MORNING SHOW CHAT & A PRACTICE SQUAD CALL-UP LEAVES NO QUESTION TO HOW JETS ARE PREPARING FOR THE SEAHAWKS’ MOBILE QB.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It’s no secret at this point. And it didn’t take Antonio Cromartie letting the cat out of the bag on NFL AM for everyone to already know.
The Jets cornerback appeared on the NFL Network’s morning show and while his “definitive” stance on the 3-5 team making the playoffs stole headlines it was his game analysis that’s worthy of note.
“He’s a guy who can extend a play,” Cromartie said to NFL Network when talking about Seattle’s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. ”When you have a quarterback who can extend the play and get outside the pocket and make plays with his legs and his arms, it’s kind of hard to defend. The biggest thing for us is to try and keep him in the pocket, and make him make throws that he can’t see over [the offensive line].”
When it comes to stopping the Seahawks’ aerial attack, it starts with keeping the short-in-stature Wilson behind (and below) his offensive line. Listed at a generous five-feet 11-inches, Wilson has found success through the air when rolling out of the pocket on designed rollouts, bootlegs and play-actions — where he doesn’t have to look over his tall offensive line. With no starting Seahawk lineman under six-foot-four, the passing lanes are much more visible outside the pocket for the dwarfed Wilson.
To keep Wilson inside the pocket will take a healthy balance of edge containment and execution of gap assignments in the middle by the Jets front seven. It also doesn’t hurt to have speed on the outside either.
That’s where Ricky Sapp comes in. The Clemson product was signed to the active roster Thursday, while safety Antonio Allen — who was waived on Tuesday — took Sapp’s place on the practice squad with Eric Smith coming back from a knee injury. A pass-rushing specialist on the outside, Sapp had an impressive camp before suffering a high ankle sprain and missing the preseason. With speed being one of his biggest tools, Sapp could provide a big play or, better yet, prevent a big play from happening.
“The way he has been practicing, he has been a handful for us to block. The young man is a guy that just keeps going. We’ll watch him chase the passer [this week],” Rex Ryan said.
He’s not the only one who can have an impact on Wilson’s pocket presence, as Muhammed Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace have got to carry the load. But Sapp’s first NFL game could be one where he’s put in the position to succeed.
For the whole story on Ricky Sapp and his road to the NFL, read my piece on him from July 31st.