The biggest difference between Derek Wolfe’s play in Weeks 5 and 12 is that he is playing even better as the season goes on. He’s scored a sack in each of the last two games.
He racked up 8 tackles in the Week 12 win against New England, 6 of them solo. He also had a quarterback hit and two tackles for a loss. One tackle was particularly satisfying, so let’s take a look at it.
On this play, Wolfe lines up in the B gap, with his helmet just outside of the right guard’s outside shoudler. That would be considered the 3-technique, if you’re counting that way. He has his right hand down just in front of #54, Brandon Marshall.
Wolfe is easy to spot when he’s on the line. Every player coils at the line differently but with the slight bow to Wolfe’s back, he’s always in perfect balance. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he’s an illustration for the 3-point stance.
That balance helps when you’re bulldozing right tackles. Wolfe sprints off the snap before the right guard Josh Kline can move and just abuses him, driving him backward and off-balance.
Wolfe’s hand-fighting was one of the first things he said that he worked on when he arrived as a second round pick. He understood that technique was everything.
Speed off the snap, winning the centerline in hand-fighting and gaining leverage are the keys to successful defensive attacks. Wolfe displays them all. Look below at how far out of balance Kline is. His feet are twisted and his shoulders are canted to the left. He doesn’t have a chance.
It was like trying to stop a charging rhino with a doily. Before Brady could step up out of harm’s way, Wolfe reached out from between the linemen and snared Brady’s ankle, bringing him down.
Wolfe beat his man off the snap, destroyed him in hand-fighting and then split a double-team, to bring down one of the toughest sacks in the NFL. It was worth his signature howl.
I loved it when Cris Collinsworth said in amazement, “I don’t know where this pass rushing ability is coming from….”
Well, it’s pretty simple, Cris. His run-stopping has gotten him a reputation, but there was always the note in his draft scouting that he could become a big-time pass rusher from the 3-technique. Two sacks in two games — one off a double team — suggests that he’s on his way to fulfilling that.
He had 6 sacks as a rookie, and he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s also three and a half years more experienced, and his suspension has left him as hungry as his namesake. However far the Broncos get this season, Wolfe can provide a pure granite chunk of it.
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