DJ Jones Keeps’em Clean & That’s A Big Deal
If you’re wondering what to get an inside linebacker for his birthday, allow us to suggest a really good nose tackle to put in front of him. A player like that will consistently keep the LB free in the run game and allow him to make a lot more plays.
Conversely, a sub-par nose tackle will allow the OL to get up to the LB easily. Even an elite backer will have to waste time defeating the block, which will keep him from consistently getting involved in the play.
Take a look here at this play from 49ers NT D.J. Jones to illustrate how an interior DL can benefit his MLB. The Rams are running an Outside Zone play designed to get to the perimeter.
With this kind of outside run, the LB cannot afford to get held up by the offensive line. If it does the RB will win the race to the edge and the LB will be unable to make the play.
Jones, aligned in a 0-technique over the center, displays quick reaction and a good first step. This allows him to split the combo and avoid getting reached by the backside guard while also getting a piece of the center.
That hold-up makes it almost impossible for the center to have any chance of getting to the more athletic MLB. But Jones is not done yet. The LG is still trying to execute that reach block. If he’s successful here, there is still a nice-sized hole for the back, and it’s not easy for a LB to tackle a back in a giant hole like that.
Watch as Jones uses his right arm to fight off the guard and string the block out. This effectively collapsing the backside of the line. Now, there’s only a small hole in the middle with the MLB standing right there.
Now the back is forced to bounce the run outside. With no one to get in the way of the LB, though, he’s allowed to run clean to the hip of the RB and make the tackle.
The LB might get the credit on the stat sheet. But without Jones, there’s a good chance he doesn’t make the play.
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