By Alex Kozora
A look at Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive end Cameron Heyward Monday night against the Washington Redskins.
- 1st and 10, :50. Heyward enters the game during the Redskins’ two minute offense, reason for the four passes. Stunts with Jarvis Jones on the first play. Loops around while Jones crashes into the guard. LT Trent Williams doesn’t recognize it and Heyward gets to come in free, forcing Rex Grossman to check it down to the back.
- 1st and 10, :32. Excellent bull rush, walking the LG Kory Lichtensteiger right into Grossman. What proper leverage and good leg drive will get you.
- 1st and 10, :25. Short, quick pass so not much to note on this play.
- 3rd and 3, :11. Heyward is the EMOL and rushing against Trent Williams. Is initially tentative and it appears that he’s expecting/hoping Grossman throws a quick hitter into the flats (like what Ryan Kerrigan did on his INT). Good awareness of down, distance, and time from Heyward. After seeing that isn’t the case, Heyward does briefly rush. Does show good leverage, pushing Williams back a little bit.
- 1st and 10, 14:56 3rd. Toss away. Works down the line, doesn’t try to turn and run, keeps an arm extended on the left tackle to keep him at bay. That prevents the tackle from cutting him easily or trying to seal him. Ultimately doesn’t factor in on the play but nice job of staying at home. It can be easy to be over aggressive in these situations and open up cutback lanes.
- 2nd and 6, 14:21. Another bull rush. Same result, gets a great push. Really shows his upper body strength and keeps his feet churning. Collapses the pocket. However, it should be noted that he was working against left guard Josh LeRibeus, a third round rookie. A first rounder like Heyward with a few years under his belt should be dominating him.
- 1st and 10, 14:00. Run away. LG gets inside leverage and seals him.
- 2nd and 8, 13:27. Facing a down block from the LT Tom Compton. Sheds it but not in time to make the tackle as the back slips by.
- 3rd and 4, 12:49. Tries the bull rush again but LeRibeus is ready for it. Anchors and absorbs it well.
- 1st and 10, 11:00 3rd. Another pass, another bull rush. Works again though he must have tripped over someone’s feet because he falls to the ground.
- 2nd and 1, 10:37. Pass. Gets his arms extended and nocks the LG off his base. No pressure however.
- 1st and 10, 10:01. Outside zone to the left, Heyward’s side. Really nice scoop block from the LG. Reaches the outside of Heyward (no easy task since Cam was shaded to the outside pre-snap), gets square and seals. Heyward trips and falls over a body.
- 1st and 10, 9:21. Jarvis Jones drops, leaving Heyward pitted against the tackle. But it’s not a true edge rush because Heyward is still shaded to the inside of the tackle and slants up to him. Doesn’t do much. Would have liked to see a move. A swim or some sort of hand fighting to try and shed the block.
- 1st and 10, 5:52 3rd. Stretch to his side. Nice job not getting sealed off by the tackle. But it does look like the LG steps on the LT and they both fall down in a Jenga-esque pile.
- 2nd and 7, 5:23. Run with the running back cutting back away from Heyward. Gets base blocked by the LG, sheds him late in the play.
- 1st and 10, 4:37. Zone away. LT really is working through him, heading to the 3rd level to try and cut a DB. Not much else to note as Brian Arnfelt quickly blows up the play in the backfield.
- 2nd and 12, 4:03. Another bull rush. Slowly works the guard back. But again, rarely will you see an offensive lineman be able to completely stone a bulrush and not give any ground. And certainly not a rookie playing in his second career game.
- 3rd and 12, 3:55. Pass. Double-teamed by the LG and C so not much Heyward can do here.
Needless to say, only logging 18 snaps making drawing conclusions difficult. Heyward essentially only played one quarter, likely in an effort to give Nick Williams as much playing time as possible. And with the Redskins having one turnover in the quarter, it took away even more from Heyward’s playing time. Clearly, the bull rush is his go to move and it had a good deal of success. He consistently showed good arm extension and leg drive, but as pointed out, a lot of that came against a rookie so that has to factor in when evaluating him. I would have liked to see a little bit of a repertoire too. Not that he has to become a Bruce Smith caliber pass rusher but having a couple extra tools in your belt doesn’t hurt.