Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens profiles a Darren Sproles blitz pickup against veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson where both players try to be the low man.
It’s the true outcome if you were to bet on who’d win in a matchup of Darren Sproles handling a blitzing Derrick Johnson because there’s no way any of you would have chosen Sproles. However, this one-on-one in the pocket is a beautiful example of “low-man wins.”
I love watching this play because Derrick Johnson tries to out-leverage Sproles at the point of contact with a low approach of his own. It’s like watching a chess match and each player adjusts well to the other’s advantage until Sproles simply has one more move than Johnson.
If you never fully appreciated Sproles, you have one more year to do so while he’s still an active player. Shorter backs should study his game — especially how he uses his height and his hips to generate leverage and force as a blocker. And note how Sproles keeps his feet at shoulder width as he’s pushed backward. This helps him maintain his balance and recover quick enough to deliver the final push — a well-coordinated strike and drive of Johnson’s hip while sideways to the blocker.
Balance and leverage with just enough power can overcome a mismatch on paper.
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