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Digging Deep: Jadeveon Clowney Puts In Work During Preseason Debut For the Houston Texans

Most will downplay the work that Jadeveon Clowney put in during his preseason opener but it was a sneak peek at what he can be.

It was Jadeveon Clowney’s first appearance for the Houston Texans on the field after much discussion on the team holding him out for the past week due to soreness in his knee. It took some time for Clowney to get on the field and when they finally put him in the dime defense and he made is presence felt by handling the right tackle and folding him like a chair headed to the quarterback. 

Clowney appeared in 28 plays and the stat line only showed two tackles, sack (quarterback hit) and tackle for loss. What doesn’t show up is the presence he showed on the field, making plays that do not show up in the box score. 

You can actually follow along with the time and quarter on the broadcast feed to see this in action. There will be screen shots but that only gives so much info but here is the breakdown of Clowney on Saturday. 

The Rundown

Play #1: 1st qtr. (9:13)

Lines up over the right tackle, he is late on the snap. Post game some defenders said Drew Brees did a good job with his cadence preventing the best jump in pass rush early in the game. Despite that late jump he put his hand on the right tackle used his strength to fold up with right tackle and put a hit on Brees. To be exact, Clowney lifted Zach Strief (6-7, 320 lbs.) off his feet which essentially knocked him down. The play was nullified due to a personal foul roughing the passer by John Simon.

Play #2: 1st qtr. (7:46)

He is running a stunt with the defensive tackle. Despite not getting to the quarterback, he gets his right hand up in the passing lane to try and knock it down.

Play #3: 2nd qtr. (14:34)

Attacks the tight end and walks him him into the backfield and right into the running back. Another defender comes in and makes the tackle for -1 loss.

Play #4: 2nd qtr. (14:04)

He is just too much for the left tackle, keeps his hands on the tackle and just beats him outside to sack Brees for a 14-yard loss.
Play #5: 2nd qtr. (13:21)

Brees throws a pass to the edge to Mark Ingram, he turns after running a stunt inside. He takes a decent shot from an offensive lineman but he runs in pursuit and is the force from the inside and forces Ingram to the outside. Kevin Johnson finishes the play with a nice form tackle.

Play #6: 2nd qtr. (7:33)

The pass is thrown quick away from Clowney. 

Play #7: 2nd qtr. (7:29)

The Saints run the opposite direction of him. 

Play #8: 2nd qtr. (6:53)

Clowney needs to improve his awareness on formations and where blocks can come from. Lined up over the right tackle, he is chipped by the tight end heading out on a route before the left tackle pass sets him. The Saints are not leaving him in one-on-ones now.

Play #9: 2nd qtr. (6:29)

Clowney on the snap gets off and posts up on the left tackle and has him two yards deep in the backfield setting the edge. Look at his eyes, they are up tracking the ball while he is playing sound fundamental defense.
Play #10: 2nd qtr. (6:50)

Clowney is working and starts an inside pass rush move. As he gets through the initial block, he is tackled by the left tackle to prevent him from getting to the quarterback. The left guard also helped the cause to try and slow him. 

Play #11: 2nd qtr (5:12)

Clowney is running a stunt with Christian Covington an E-T stunt. (end going first, with the tackle making the second move) Clowney does exactly what he is supposed to do, occupy the guard knock him off balance and make a short corner for Covington to get a shot on the quarterback.

Play #12: 2nd qtr (4:00)

Clowney moves to the left side of the defense and he is still working to get used to working on that side. They run his way and he goes with the flow his direction, he still has outside leverage but he is not setting the edge like he does playing the right. 

Play #13: 2nd qtr. (3:34)

Pass away from Clowney.

Play #14: 2nd qtr. (3:00)

Lined up on the left again, pass rush is stoned by the right tackle. While engaged, the left guard cleans up Clowney and knocks him down. 

Play #15: 2nd qtr. (2:29)

Run away from him, but jumps into the play. 

Play #16: 2nd qtr. (2:00)

Beats the right tackle with a swim move and gets down the line of scrimmage to get down the line.
Play #19: 2nd qtr. (1:52)

Clowney rushes wide to open the gap for Eddie Pleasant to rush the B gap. Team football here.
Play #20: 3rd qtr. (15:00)

Clowney untouched gets down the line of scrimmage to make the play on Lasco. 

Play #21: 3rd qtr. (14:30)

Pass rush, push out wide with the quick pass. 

Play #22, 3rd qtr. (13:56)

Clowney sets up the pass rush from the play before and raises his hands to show he has a move coming. As the offensive tackle raises his hands, Clowney rips underneath to get under the offensive tackle which leads to him being tackled.

Play #21: 3rd qtr. (13:29)

Pass away, he does work that way to chase down the ball. 

Play #22: 3rd qtr. (9:32)

Clowney pass rush but the pass is completed. He does get a hand on the quarterback right when he is throwing. 

Play #23: 3rd qtr (9:09)

Pursues the ball from the back side on a play away. 

Play #24: 3rd qtr. (8:34)

Rushes inside with a blitz coming from the outside of him from a cornerback. 

Play #25: 3rd qtr. (8:32)

Clowney is wide and is in pass rush mode. He is playing too high and allows the left tackle the chance to pass set him, he actually loses his balance after pass set. He is just too high in this situation.

Play #26: 3rd qtr. (8:12)

Splits two tight ends trying to block him, funnels the run back inside. 

Play #27: 3rd qtr. (7:36)

He sets up the left tackle with an outside move and gets back inside on a free run at the running back. He misses the tackle but slows him enough for a teammate to clean it up for a negative play. He had is played perfectly, he just needs to finish. 

Play #28: 3rd qtr. (7:03)

Clowney's night is summed up with this pass rush. He beats the left tackle but is held and it is a no call. If he wasn't not held, it would have been a sack.

Finishing Thoughts

It was way more good than bad for Clowney in his first action of the preseason. He strength is much improved from last season and it shows even more in the run game. He is more comfortable lined up on the defensive right and when lined up on the left, he does not appear comfortable with the steps to be effective consistently. The Texans gave him an extended look due to his missed time and it was clear Clowney needs to improve on his conditioning. 

Clowney was held at least three times that were not called, in his series after the sack of Brees, the Saints started to run plays away from him and sending multiple blockers his way in pass situations. He was very active and despite not an impressive pretty stat line, he was disruptive for majority of his snaps on the field. It is a work in progress but not many have Clowney's size and strength to do what he does when he is on the field. Staying healthy is one thing but it is clear that he is an impact player that will have to be accounted for. 

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