Steelers Film Room: James Harrison’s Speed Bull Rush

James Harrison is the ageless wonder. And even though he had been quiet coming into last night’s victory, he’s always had the potential to breakout. He’s done it the way he’s always done it – with strength and technique. And it was on display on his three sacks last night. We’ll examine one in particular – his speed bull rush.

The replay of his sack reminded me of his tutorial on a speed bull rush posted on Youtube six years ago. We looked at this video a long time ago, but it’s worth revisiting again.

Here’s the video. We’ll transcribe some of the notable parts of it below.

As Harrison explains it:

“When you speed bull rush, first of all you, want to have speed. Second thing is you’re going to take three or five steps, depending on your stride length. Once you’ve taken that third or fifth step, planting on your outside foot, turn in, heavy hands and contact. At the same time, exploding through him, separating, and get to the quarterback.”

You can see Deebo demonstrate it. Get to speed, plant on your outside foot (in this case, his 5th step), turn inside, and explode through with his hands.

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Let’s take it to Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Speed bull rush from Harrison against left tackle Joe Reitz. Plants on his outside foot on his third step.


He turns inside, converting that speed to power, and turns inside.


Heavy hands and leverages Reitz, exploding through him. Just like Harrison talks about, look at the separation he gets versus the offensive tackle. Reitz can’t get into his pads and is driven back.


It becomes just a matter of separating and getting to the quarterback. Harrison takes down Charlie Whitehurst for what would be his then second sack of the game. He’d end the day with another for good measure.


The important part here is a line I mentioned earlier. Speed to power. It’s a critical trait for any pass rusher doesn’t have the raw, athletic ability to get to the quarterback. It’s been Harrison’s calling card for years and the fact he still has it is a testament to the time he puts in the weight room, the videos he see and ogle over. Combine that with his perfected technique and you still have a potent pass rusher.

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