While the Miami game was certainly a frustrating one to watch, there were positives to be found upon the re-watch. Unfortunately, a rash of negative plays, highlighted(lowlighted?) by 2 Miami defensive scores, sealed the Jackets’ fate. So what have we built upon so far this season? Today’s little big plays will dig into this question.
Q1 12:35 2nd and 11 - I was really harsh on Will Bryan last week, so I wanted to showcase something he did well this week. Bryan executes a fantastic cut block here, completely de-cleating the defender. There was still a defender here to make the play, but Mills makes him miss. When the blocking overall is bad, the backs will simply have to take more than they are given. Mills has answered that bell better than anyone.
Q2 14:54 1st and 10 - Antonio Simmons makes this play. He simply does everything right. He initially sees a run play, so he moves upfield and engages the RT to set the edge. Once he reads pass, he sheds his man perfectly and forces an early throw with a QB hit. Simmons keeps making plays.
Q2 14:28 1st and 10 - JJ Green jukes the soul out of a man on a great run. Another example of backs taking more than the blocking is giving.
Q3 15:00 1st and 10 - Brant Mitchell completely stonewalls the lead-blocking fullback, then makes the tackle through him. Mitchell’s help was a bit late arriving to the point of attack, this potentially avoided a good run by Miami to start the 2nd half.
Q1 6:42 2nd and 12 - PJ Davis gets juked out of his shoes. He could have forced a respectable 3rd down here on a drive that eventually resulted in a Miami touchdown.
Little Big Player of the Game: DE Antonio Simmons
Perhaps the breakout player of the season thus far, Simmons has proven to be the most talented and complete DE on the team for the first 5 games of the season. He deserves to start at the expense of Keshun Freeman. Simmons isn’t perfect against the run, but he was athletic enough on multiple occasions to run down Miami ball-carriers. He’s the only DE who has the ability to get upfield and bend the corner on the pass rush. His natural burst has now been coupled with a developed rip move, and it’s been effective when he’s had playing time. While some may be worried that playing Simmons will result in weaker edges against Pitt’s run game, he showed improvement against Miami. Both of Miami’s long TD runs to the outside were run directly at Freeman, so a drop off with Simmons isn’t likely. Rod Rook-Chungong is the only real edge-setter on this defense, and Simmons is the most effective pass-rusher. They need to be playing at the same time.