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Anatomy of a Junkyard Dog Sack

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Nov 7, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (44) in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson

  • 2nd and 8
  • Cardinals line up with a 4 man front: Markus Golden on outside shoulder of TE George Kittle, Jordan Phillips lined up on the outside eye of the LG, Corey Peters lined up on the inside eye on the RG and Chandler Jones lined up on the outside shoulder of the RT.
  • With starting RT Mike McGlinchey out of the game the Cardinals are figuring that Chandler Jones has a big advantage versus the backup RT. Jones makes a hard outside rush and then helps to force Jimmy Garoppolo to have to step up into the pocket.
  • Jordan Phillips (one on one versus the LG) and Corey Peters (who by lining up on the inside eye of the RG was able to occupy both the C and the RG) rush in their lanes to create a wall.
  • Note: because Jordan Phillips is lined up on the outside eye of the LG and knowing that LT Trent Williams is going to have to kick out wide in order to block Markus Golden, it would have been tempting for him to take an outside rush around the LG. But, that would have given Jimmy Garoppolo an easy escape route, were he forced to scramble, the way in which he was. Phillip’s discipline here is the epitome of what it means for a pass rusher to “stay in his lane.”
  • Markus Golden is matched up with All Pro LT Trent Williams. When George Kittle releases on the snap and doesn’t get a chip on Golden, Williams, in fear of being too late to defend Golden’s outside speed rush, over-commits to the back end of the arc, where Golden is able to push Williams back a step in order to hustle inside to make the sack on Garoppolo, who was perfectly pinned by Phillips, Peters and Jones.
  • Credit the Cardinals’ man-to man coverage on this play, highlighted by Jordan Hicks chasing RB Elijah Mitchell when he went in motion to the right. Garoppolo knows right then that the Cardinals are in man coverage with Isaiah Simmons looking to help over the middle. Yet, Garoppolo cannot find an open receiver.
  • Whenever a 4 man front can win against 5 blockers, that is a coup for the defense and a luxury for the defensive coordinator and his coaches. Vance Joseph’s confidence in his 4 man pass rush enabled him to employ 7 defenders in pass coverage.