Steelers Film Room: The Warren Sapp Files: Exhibit A: Larry Foote

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 Part 3: Rushing the Quarterback

 

With the dominance of past Steelers defenses, the term “Blitzburgh” has often been coined when describing their defense. It is pretty self-explanatory why they have been called this; they simply have gotten after the quarterback, a lot!

If you are a linebacker for the Steelers defense, no matter outside or inside, you better believe you will be blitzing. As an inside linebacker, the two most important skill sets needed are explosiveness and being able to tackle the quarterback since he will almost always try to move away from the defenders. While Foote was not the dominating blitzer like Timmons last season, he did quite fine himself. Foote almost always shot through the hole when blitzing, and he often got in the quarterbacks face. By the end of the season, Foote did quite well in the sack department with 4 sacks. Compared to All-Pro inside linebackers like Patrick Willis who only had .5 sacks, that is very impressive, considering most inside linebacker are lucky to get 3 sacks on the season. How was Foote able to get 4 sacks in 2012, you might ask? I have broken down a play below where he shows his ability to be a sack artist.

 

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

On this play against the Ravens in the third quarter of week 13, Timmons and Foote prepare to run the inside cross blitz which is very difficult to defend as an offensive line. Rice prepares to go and block who ever gets past after Flacco will fake the handoff to him.

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

 Foote goes first in the cross, as Timmons waits a half a second to come behind Foote. The center Matt Burke sees Foote coming across so he tries to quickly slide over to his right.

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

Burke is unable to get over to Foote in time because Foote is just flying in too fast. Ray Rice prepares now to block after Flacco fakes the handoff. Timmons is about to sneak behind Burke.

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

At this point, Rice either just doesn’t want to get in Foote’s way, or he sees Timmons coming unblocked instead. By Rice committing to go block Timmons, it leaves Foote with a straight lane to the quarterback.

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

Burke is now on the ground because he was unable to reach Foote. Rice goes to chop block Timmons while Flacco sees Foote coming, so Flacco begins to move to his right.

Coaches Film from NFL Game Rewind

At this point, Foote has wrapped up Flacco and the play is dead, resulting in another sack for Larry Foote.

Additional Notes:

While Foote is no dominant pass rusher, he still is fast and explosive when he rushes the passer. If Larry Foote was “old and slow,” he would have been easily picked up by Matt Birk and Flacco would have been able to throw. While he is nowhere near Timmons dominance when rushing the passer, Foote is still a force to be reckoned with and he can’t be ignored.

As far as his speed goes, Foote still has what it takes to rush the passer in the Steelers defense. He does a good job of getting in a good position to make plays. Joining with Timmons in making one of the nastiest middle linebacker pass rushing duos in the NFL with their speed and explosiveness, they will continue to accumulate more and more sacks next season.

Old and Slow When Blitzing: No

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  • Craig

    I don’t know Nick. You find some pretty good plays that make Foote look like he’s a premier ILB. But, for every one good play that you find, I bet myself or others can find two more ‘bad’ plays where Foote took bad angles, or poor pursuit, or got jammed at the line with poor vision of the ball carrier – allowing for a big gain.

    I think what you break down is right, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Foote has bested the ‘old and slow’ title.

    • Nick Kelly

      Like I did say, Foote did struggle some when it came to getting jammed at the line. The way I see it, if he was able to make these plays, he can’t be considered fully “over the hill,” but no doubt he doesn’t have many years left. He definitely has some holes to his game, but I felt that the “old and slow” title was not exactly fair to put next to him. I came out much more impressed with Foote than I had before.

  • Steven Vincent

    One of the best football articles I have ever read! Thanks.