Film Room: DeMarvin Leal Flashes As A Pass Rusher Against The Seahawks

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in stunning fashion Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium to the score of 32-25. The offense seemed to be in control for most of the contest, rushing for 185 yards on the ground while having all three QBs successfully move the offense down the field and throw TD passes. The defense, however, had a tougher outing as they surrendered 159 yards on the ground, allowing 6.1 yards per carry.

The Film

DL DeMarvin Leal had a mixed outing himself. He had moments where he flashed improved run defense as well as talent as a pass rusher on the defensive line, but also had moments where he couldn’t finish the play. Here is one example as Seattle runs to the left on an outside zone play where Leal tries to work down the LOS to the ball but leans too far forward over his feet with his pads and ends up on the ground as #9 Ken Walker cuts back to where he was supposed to be to pick up extra yardage.


Here on this pass rush rep by Leal, we see again a little forward lean as he tries to bull rush the RG into the lap of the QB, missing on the chop move and gets inside the blocker’s chest, flailing his outside arm as he attempts to long arm with his inside arm. The guard drops anchor and stalls the rush, allowing #7 Geno Smith to find his target and get the ball out as Leal attempts to bat the pass down.


Still, there were a bunch of positive moments the takeaway from Leal’s tape Saturday night. While he only was credited with two tackles in the contest, he made more of an impact than the stat sheet would suggest. For example, in the clip above we saw Leal attempt to get his hands up in passing lanes to tip the ball. Here in the second half against #2 Drew Lock, we see Leal do the same thing as his rush stalls, leaping into the air and gets fully extended as Lock releases the pass which sails over his receiver’s head. Leal may or may not have impacted the trajectory of the pass here by Lock, but it’s good to see the instincts Leal shows here.


When it comes to run defense, Leal showed notable improvement after ending up on the ground on that first rep. Here we see Leal against try to fight pressure and cross face of the OL on the zone run. He gives a little ground but manages to across the face of the blocker and make the tackle on #31 DeeJay Dallas for a modest gain. Leal can stand to better hold the point of attack to prevent extra yardage being gained on this rep, but overall, a good play by Leal to work off the block and make the tackle.


Here’s another example in the red zone where Leal lines up at the 4i just inside the RT and sheds the block by #72 Abraham Lucas to get in on the tackle attempt on Dallas to keep the runner out of the end zone.


If you want to see a good example of Leal’s strength in his hands, here is a rep where he looks to set the edge outside against the RG, peeking into the backfield to make sure he has contain, then chucks the blocker to the side and he attempts to get in on the stop. Leal showed this same move at times in college, most notably against Alabama OT Evan Neal, so it’s a good sign to see that same move translate to the pros.


Many wondered in adding additional weight to his frame would take away Leal’s quickness as a pass rusher which was considered the strength of his game coming out of Texas A&M, based off training camp reports and his performance Saturday night, those concerns have been put to bed. Take a look at this rep by Leal where he executes the cross chop/swim to beat RG and get into the backfield. Leal does fail to round the corner as he gets a hand on Smith but can’t get him to the ground for the sack. Still, it’s a good sign to see Leal be able to execute those pass rush moves at a heavier weight, just needing to work in finishing the play.


Here is another pass rush rep by Leal where he doesn’t get home, but he manages to pressure the passer enough to throw the ball low to the feet of his intended receiver, resulting in an incompletion. Here we see Leal execute the cross chop/ rip move with his inside hand while slapping the outside shoulder of the RG to clear the blocker into the backfield. However, Leal starts to stumble as he gets to Lock in the pocket, falling at his legs as the pass is thrown low to the ground.

Again, Leal shows the ability to win with a variety of moves as a pass rusher but needs to work on finishing the play much like Stephon Tuitt had to do his first few years in the league at the same position.


Here on the turning point play of the evening which results in a sack force fumble by LB Mark Robinson, we see Leal also get in on the action with some more finesse as a pass rusher. Lining up as the 4i in the left side B gap, we see Leal start his rush to the outside shoulder of the RG, setting him up to counter back inside on the spin move. Leal clears the blocker with ease as he gets into the face of the QB, getting his hand up in attempt to bat the pass before Robinson drills him from behind, forcing the ball out that Leal tries to recover, but is ultimately covered up by Hamilcar Rashed.



Overall, it was a strong first showing for DeMarvin Leal who showcased that same pass rush prowess he had back in college while carrying more weight on his frame. Leal has a lot of tools in his toolbox as a pass rusher but needs to work on being more productive than just disruptive to turn those pressures into sacks.

While he dies struggle at times with pad level and playing extended, we saw Leal learn on the fly and get in on several run stops in the second half. The added weight and strength proved to be an asset in that regard as he could work through blocks to make plays on the football. Leal also played with great effort in pursuit all game long against Seattle as he routinely sprinted to the ballcarrier on outside runs. If Leal can better hold his own at the point of attack and win quicker at the LOS, we could see him stuff the stat sheet in these next couple preseason games prior to regular season action.

What are your thoughts on DeMarvin Leal against the Seahawks? Do you think he had a good performance in his rookie debut? What flaws do you see in his game, and did he show flashes of the player he was drafted to be by Pittsburgh? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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