Ok, so Saturday wasn’t Lions’ OT Penei Sewell’s first NFL game. He made his debut last week. But things didn’t get a whole lot better for Sewell, the 7th overall pick of this year’s draft, when he took on veteran Melvin Ingram.
Ingram gave Sewell and the Lions’ front fits in the run and pass game. Let’s break it down.
Ingram In Run Game
There’s a couple examples we could show of Ingram being held and it not being called or him held and it finally being spotted by the officials. But I want to highlight the tackle for loss Ingram did have, a three-yard stop in the backfield with the Lions backed up in their own end.
This one doesn’t come against Sewell. Instead, Ingram is matched up on TE Alize Mack. With the LCB offering edge support, Ingram slants to the inside and shoots the gap, crossing the tight end’s face and bursting into the backfield. He finishes the play with the tackle on RB Dedrick Mills for a loss of three. Great rep here.
Ingram In Pass Game
Now let’s look at Ingram in the pass game. First snap of the game. Playaction. Ingram, from his LOLB spot, on the tight end trying to pass pro in this max protect scheme. But Ingram is quick off the ball, dipping past him and into the RB, who steps away at the last moment. The pass still gets off and is completed but Ingram showed great timing of the snap here and technique to beat the block.
Those first two reps, to be fair, are on a tight end. Ones you’d expect an outside linebacker to routinely win. Now let’s see him versus Sewell. Here, Ingram effectively uses a cross-chop, first faking to the inside with his inside (right) leg and then chopping with his inside (right) hand to knock Sewell’s arms down.
That softens the corners and allows Ingram to turn the edge. Sewell recovers just enough and his QB hitches up (if there wasn’t such a clean pocket, he wouldn’t have had such a luxury) to avoid getting his arm hit. A good rep from Ingram, even if it didn’t directly lead to a QB pressure.
To offer full context, Sewell is making the switch to right tackle after playing left tackle at Oregon. But Ingram’s taking advantage of the moment.
Later in the first quarter, Ingram uses straight power to completely knock Sewell off-balanced. Again, aligned as the LOLB, he stabs Sewell with his inside arm, knocking him back and nearly off his feet. Good timing by Ingram using his hand and feet together on his punch, stepping off that inside, right foot as he punches with his right hand.
Ingram gets picked up at the last moment but there’s pressure from the backside, resulting in a throw that’s a bit in front and incomplete. Instead of a would-be conversion, it’s 3rd and 6.
Ingram In Coverage
I’ve joked that under no circumstances should you want to drop Ingram into coverage. He’s stiff, slow, and at best, an underneath zone player. But this is a good rep, Ingram able to use his physicality to bump the FB trying to leak into the flat off this playaction boot by the Lions.
That takes away one of the QB’s two options, forcing him to hit the deeper crosser. It looks open but Joe Haden breaks on the ball and closes unbelievably well, knocking the football away and nearly coming away with the INT.
I’m still a firm believer the less Ingram drops, the better, but he was able to use his size and physicality to win here. That’s as good as it’s going to get for him.
Ingram has carried over a strong camp into game-action, especially last night. As Mike Tomlin said, Ingram has been a run-game bully and bringing veteran savviness in terms of keying the ball and his technique. Alex Highsmith has been as much if not more impressive and I think he’ll still start next to TJ Watt. But Ingram is an excellent #3. Keep him fresh with 20-25 excellent snaps a game? Sign him up.
There won’t be a letup for guys like Sewell, who will see the Steelers again later this season. And on yeah, he’ll get to try to slow down TJ Watt too. Sewell better be much improved by then. Or Jared Goff’s in trouble.