The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle was quite impressed by Colts left tackle Tarik Glenn's performance last Sunday against Buffalo. The paper wrote "Aaron Schobel has games where he's all over the place, and then he has days like Sunday when he's a non-factor. Indy's All-Pro LT Tarik Glenn owned him."
By contrast, about seven days earlier, Pro Football Weekly was writing about how Patriots OLB Rosevelt Colvin had given Glenn all sorts of problems in Week 9 during a game in which Colvin registered an incredible 7 quarterback hits. So what should we expect this week?
Colvin had success using his speed to get into Glenn's upper body quickly, making it difficult for him to anchor quickly. So Colvin used the bull rush to push an off-balanced Tarik Glenn backwards. The Patriots' linebacker's technique is undoubtedly drawing the interest of Dallas Cowboys DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware. He leads the Cowboys with 5 sacks, but since he's an OLB in a 3-4 system, Ware will be asked to also drop back in coverage on several downs. So while this will not be an every down battle, when it does occur it will be one to watch closely.
DeMarcus Ware's ability to rush the passer is well known. Last season he established a franchise record for the most sacks by a rookie linebacker and recorded the second-most sacks by a first-year Cowboys defender at any position. And while he had his fair share of success getting to the quarterback, Ware also suffered through some droughts. There was an eight-week period in the middle of the season where Ware was held sackless. The problem was that he had become too reliant on speed.
During the off-season, Ware worked on adding dimensions to his pass rush game. He told ESPN.com, "…at this level, you aren't going to beat the tackles off the edge with just speed alone. I mean, don't get me wrong, speed is a great starting point. But the good tackles are going to stone you if that's all you've got in the [arsenal]… So I've spent a lot of time this off-season trying to refine some new moves."
He devoted many hours to reviewing the countermoves of Colts right defensive end Dwight Freeney and poured over tapes of Tampa Bay rusher Simeon Rice. Also, in an effort to improve his hand speed and upgrade the quickness with which he takes on tackles and redirects them before disengaging, Ware enrolled in karate classes. He claims that with the fresh techniques gained even from just his introduction to the martial arts, he is now better able to slap away tackles' hands.
Ware should undoubtedly present a challenge for Glenn -- a challenge, however, for which the savvy 10-year veteran will be well-prepared. For a lineman with Glenn's size and mass, he's actually pretty nimble on his feet. He's agile, moves well, and can recover when beaten off the snap. This is key against someone like DeMarcus Ware.
Against speed rushers, Glenn also has a tendency to get beat to his outside shoulder at times. He's occasionally guilty of being too patient in pass protection and as a result will struggle to cut down pass rush angles. But even when beaten to the outside, he still doesn't give up many sacks. He is rarely run over or even ran-by.
Against Ware, and this is something he failed to do with Colvin, Glenn must get a solid initial punch, because it's that initial contact that allows him to anchor. The Colts trust him one-on-one against almost anyone, so they won't game plan to give him much blocking help -- but they'll adjust as the game progresses if need be.
So keep an eye on the Cowboy wearing jersey number 94 on each play to see if he's dropping into coverage or rushing the passer. And when he does rush the passer, see how Glenn decides to handle the youngster. Does he use his wingspan to keep him to the outside? Does he allow him into his body and then try to engulf? Or will Ware have success getting him off balance? This should be both an interesting battle and one that will be fun to watch.
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