Before going any further, take a good, close look at this defensive gem. What do you see?
This is a textbook TEX (tackle/end/twist) sack by Dennis Gardeck and Markus Golden.
They line up to the bottom of the screen, to the right side of the Texans’ offensive line and their QB Davis Mills.
On the snap, Gardeck takes an outside gap rush, while Golden pops his blocker and loops underneath Gardeck’s tail to explode on a straight line to the QB.
Ba —- Boom!
One of the main reasons why this classic TEX stunt worked is that Markus Golden has been winning big-time from the edge on outside arc rushes over the past few games. Therefore, the Texans have been preparing to fan block him wide of the pocket .
On this play they do not expect Golden to loop to the inside. However, Dennis Gardeck’s outside gap rush is so swift and abrupt that he occupies the attention of the offensive tackle, thus allowing Golden an open path to the QB on his loop to the inside.
Watch how explosive both Gardeck and Golden are with their feet, chugging them like pistons. When pundits talk about players’ motors, this is what they mean.
Notice too how Vance Joseph designed an inside linebacker blitz from Jordan Hicks on the play so as to make the RB have to step up to block the RB, thereby furthering opening up Golden’s path to the football. That’s a clever nuance that worked to perfection here.
On pre-snap, this is such an exotic look up front for the young QB, as the Cardinals have J.J. Watt and Markus Golden on the edges, and two linebackers inside of them in Zaven Collins and Dennis Gardeck. There are no defensive tackles inside. Watt and Collins also run a TEX stunt to their side (top of the screen), which the Texans LT and LG switch block very effectively.
Cardinals are in sticky coverage —- playing press man at the bottom of the screen with Robert Alford. On the snap Budda Baker angles backward to provide help for Alford over the top. On the other side, Marco Wilson is in off-coverage (5 yard cushion) with the instruction to keep the play in front of him.
Plus, check out how the Cardinals even take away Mills’ check down option to the RB (top of screen) by having Isaiah Simmons blanketing him.
TEX twists typically take a little time to develop (because of indirect routes to the QB), which is why the secondary has to be very sticky and aggressive for at least 3-4 seconds.
In essence, Dennis Gardeck and Markus Golden are so explosive on this play, that the sack on this TEX twist occurs in what appears to be slightly under 3 seconds.
That’s why Vance Joseph subbed in for the defensive tackles and inserted quicker players.
A more experienced QB, seeing a middle full of linebackers and no defensive tackles on the pre-snap, might audible into a running play —- but on 3rd and 7 —- that’s risky.
However, this is another reason why Vance Joseph had Jordan Hicks blitz straight at the RB, because whether the play was a pass or a run, if Hicks takes out the RB, chances are very good that the defense can prevent the offense from converting the 3rd and 7.
Hats off to Vance, The Barbarian, Hicks and the Junkyard Dog!