TeachTape Thursday Features Michael Onwenu

By FirstDown PlayBook on Apr 8, 2021

No matter what run play a team calls, the ultimate goal is displacement of defenders. The more you can move people, the more likely it is that you can create a big hole for your back to run through.

There are multiple ways to achieve this goal, but in this edition of Teachtape Thursday, let’s take a look at the art of the double team. Here, we will focus on the Patriots’ Michael Onwenu, who is lined up as the tackle-eligible tight end.

Onwenu does a nice job of taking a good track at a proper pace. If he works straight up to the LB immediately, he would miss the chance to get the double on the DL. If he attacks the down lineman too aggressively, he could over-extend and open up a lane for the LB to run through. Onwenu works flat down the line and gets hip-to-hip with the LT, and the DL (or at least part of the DL) appears in Onwenu’s gap.

Onwenu strikes through the near hip of the DL and creates tremendous movement, driving him all the way into the A gap. When an OL strikes through the hip of an engaged defender, it is fairly typical to see this type of displacement for two reasons. One, the DL rarely sees it coming as he’s focused on the OL across from him. Two, it’s very difficult for the defender to work against contact through the hip.

As he’s striking that hip, Onwenu also gets his eyes up to the LB. He times his release from the double team to strike just when the defender tries to fit the run. As the LB is working across his face, Onwenu nicely adjusts and works inside out with tremendous violence and power. He knocks the defender completely out of the play. The back adjusts off the new trajectory of that block and is able to pick up additional yardage as a result.

The key takeaway here is that there are many ways to win on the double team, each one with its own subtleties and nuance that the blockers need to master in order to win. 

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