This was supposed to be Poona week. Then I blacked out and fell on my face! Now I only have time for Poona day. I only have time for straight analysis! No bad jokes or foolish social commentary this week—indeed, my injury is your gain.
Play 1: In which Poona is an army of one
I have dismissed Poona Ford’s abilities as a pass rusher. Here he schools All-Pro center Jason Kelce and pressures Carson Wentz into a bad impression of Patrick Mahomes. It strikes me that Wentz was attempting throws like this before Mahomes was in the league, but it seems cruel to say Wentz was pressured into a bad impression of Carson Wentz. Much crueler still to say that every Wentz pass attempt in 2020 resembles a bad impression of Carson Wentz. Too cruel, I think.
Ford does not time the snap perfectly. In this case, I mean that as a compliment. He does not have to time the snap perfectly to achieve pressure. He’s into the gap in a flash. Kelce only very briefly blocks him. Not knowing, I would guess Kelce’s decision is made thus: I’m beat, I can’t stop Ford without holding him, but I can block for Miles Sanders if Wentz throws to him.
Jarran Reed is so rocked by the double team that if he can disengage, the right guard and tackle are miles down field. Wentz has to pass somewhere and fast. Bobby Wagner has mistakenly abandoned the underneath coverage chasing the run portion of the RPO. This could be a complete pass. Wentz, who looks a bit yippy, throws it stylishly and throws it wild.
Ford forces the incomplete and gets a nice little legal knock on Wentz.
Play 2: In which Poona’s hands are Jason Kelce
Neuroscientists say that a person wielding a hammer thinks their hand has become a hammer (<— I remember this factoid from something, maybe Radiolab, and it may be erroneous. If so, my hands have become lie spreading apparatuses, neurologically speaking.)
In this play, Ford steers Kelce around as if Jason were a tool for stuffing the run.
A PET scan of Ford mid-rush produced this image.
Jamal Adams finds the rush lane and meets Sanders in the backfield. He’s sort of an anti-running back, or a mirror back, performing the same job but in reverse and toward the cause of stopping the run.
Ford beats Kelce by getting into the gap, achieving an advantageous angle, and separating with a sudden push. He survives Sanders’ cutback by virtue of his reach. Well, and Adams basically makes the tackle, with Poona mostly just falling on the downed rusher, but Ford makes that tackle much easier by jamming the cutback lane with a Poona-sized tree of woe.
Flying off the snap, beating the center to the gap, this is how a one-tech in a single-gap defense excels. Ford is shaped a bit like a baobab, thick as hell through the middle but with arms like branches. I cannot remember anyone quite like Ford in the NFL, but his performance here is so classic and on-point, it would make good coaching tape.
Images like this make me think the run defense will stay good—maybe improve. Three Seahawks are just chilling waiting for Sanders to run himself into a tackle.
Even Quill is free, close, and closing.