Flashback to last year, Dee Ford was placed on injured reserve and faced some uncertainty about where the next step in his career might be. For those that don’t know, Ford was hampered by a back injury last season. He missed two games in the early part of the season because of the injury and then re-injured it during week 8. Once that happened, the Chiefs opted to put him on injured reserve, and the future looked murky.
During the 2016 season, Ford totaled 10 sacks and looked like he was turning the corner after never making a start his rookie season. However, the injuries piled up, and again, uncertainty lingered.
Fortunately, the Chiefs kept him around. They had picked up the fifth-year option on his contract, and I’m sure they’re glad they did. Even though they’re paying him a salary of $8.718 million dollars, he’s proved that he’s worth every single penny and then some. The uncertainty that lingered around Ford’s future has now disappeared, and it certainly looks like his future will be a lucrative one.
During the AFC Divisional game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, there was obvious buzz around the Chiefs’ offense. Move to the opposite side of the football and Dee Ford really stood out. He finished the game with four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
There’s no question that the Colts did their best to prepare for Chris Jones and Justin Houston, but I’m sure they wished they could have found ways to stop Dee Ford, as well. As you can see on the plays above, he puts together two solid plays, one that was a tackle for loss and another that was a strip-sack.
On the tackle for loss, it was the first play of the game and the momentum was easily pointed in favor of the Chiefs. Ford fires out of his stand-up edge position, gets by the split-zone block from Eric Ebron, and tackles Marlon Mack behind the line-of-scrimmage for a tackle for loss. The strip-sack came at a pivotal moment in the game.
Despite the Colts getting owned for most of the game, they were marching down the field and were in the red zone. Even though the 3rd quarter was nearly over, they were in position to score and potentially ease the pain of what might have been a closer 4th quarter. However, Dee Ford had another thought, and that was to speed rush off the edge and knock the ball free while the ball was about to be thrown from Andrew Luck.
Speed Rush and Strip Sacks
When facing the Colts, it wasn’t the first time that we’ve seen a speed rush translate to a strip sack for him. Throughout the season, we’ve seen seven forced fumbles, and it’s all through timing the rush perfectly.
As you can see from the play above, Ford is rushing from the left side of the defensive line. He times the snap well and uses his speed to get around the right tackle. Once he gets to the perfect depth in the backfield, he flattens to the quarterback and pursues. As he approaches, he times his hands to the football right before the quarterback is going to release it. He then brings him down and prevents a pass even being attempted.
Incredible Bend Leading to Opportunities
Whenever you watch Dee Ford, something that constantly stands out is his ability to bend. Often, we talk about the importance of getting to the heels of the offensive lineman and bending down the LOS towards the ball carrier or quarterback. More often than not, that’s the strongest skill in Ford’s game, and the play below is a perfect example of his incredible bend.
Looking at the play above, you’ll see a perfectly-timed rushed by Dee Ford, but his bend is what makes all the difference. His speed allows him to get the edge, and then his bend puts him in position to turn the corner and flatten towards the quarterback. He gets there so fast that the quarterback (Josh Rosen) is just getting out of the last step of his drop and is being met with pressure. This is something that has helped separate him from other edge rushers and really turn around an injury-riddled beginning to his career.
Inside Pass Rush with Club-Rip Move
So many times we see defensive coordinators take pass rushers and plug them inside. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t. In this case, it works, and you can see him rushing inside to sack the quarterback.
In the process of his pass rush, you can see the club-rip move executed, which gives him clearance to the quarterback. During every game that you watch of the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s almost like you can feel Ford using his shortened season as fuel in the fire on every rep throughout the season. It’s a big reason why he had five pressures on Saturday against the Colts and why he had the best turnaround from 2017 to 2018, other than Andrew Luck.
Dee Ford leads all edge defenders in total pressures this season. pic.twitter.com/wDrdw531Qn— PFF (@PFF) December 7, 2018
Outside of a solid playoff game from Dee Ford, it’s been a solid season overall. The former first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has 55 total tackles,13 tackles for loss,13 sacks, and seven forced fumbles. He’s proving that some draft picks take time to really develop and master their craft. It’s been quite the turnaround for the former first-round pick, and he’s mastered his craft of rushing the passer and generating pressure. He’s on track for a big payday but also proving he’s not giving up despite the adversity he’s had to overcome in his five seasons in the NFL.
Image taken by Jeremy Warnemuende via 247sports.com