It was the Micheal Clemons show in Philadelphia
Micheal Clemons is the talk of the town. He was the star of the New York Jets‘ preseason opener, putting together a dominant debut performance in which he bulldozed Eagles blockers on a routine basis.
Clemons led the Jets with seven total pressures while also collecting four tackles. He lived in the Philadelphia backfield, showing an overwhelming combination of power and technique.
Let’s take a look at some of Clemons’s best reps from his head-turning debut.
Micheal Clemons film
We start things off with Clemons’s sack.
Clemons lines up in a wide-9 alignment against the left tackle. He defeats the LT using a hump move; Clemons aggressively charges toward the LT’s outside shoulder to sell an outside move and then clubs the LT’s inside shoulder to use his momentum against him, sending him up the field. Clemons then stops on a dime and redirects to the inside.
Thanks to pressure from Bryce Huff, the quarterback steps up, allowing Clemons to track him down for the sack. Clemons shows off his impressive length as he dives and wraps up the QB around his hips for a clean finish.
Clemons was a bulldozer in this game. He looked like a man amongst boys as he consistently collapsed the pocket with effective bull rushes. We’re going to see a lot of clips like this one where he treats his opponent like a blocking sled.
Clemons lines up in a wide-9 alignment. His blocker is the pulling right guard, which spells trouble for Philly as Clemons is allowed to gain a ton of downhill momentum to charge up his bull rush.
Clemons recognizes the puller and shows some fantastic awareness/technique as he takes an extra step to the outside in order to give himself a better angle to attack the RG. He explodes off that outside foot and gets into his bull rush. Clemons engages with tight hands, landing them both into the RG’s chest, which allows him to maximize power. He blasts the RG past the QB and disengages, bringing himself within one step of a sack. Clemons’s pressure forces the QB to throw the ball away.
Clemons lines up over the outermost of two tight ends. Both TEs leak into a route, leaving Clemons one-on-one with the LT. He wastes no time getting into his bull rush as he quickly sets himself up with a direct angle to the LT. Clemons gets very low, winning the leverage battle, and he plows the LT with ease.
Clemons got some work on the interior. Here, he lines up at 3-technique.
Going up against the RG, Clemons is still too strong to handle. Clemons comes out of his stance and notices the RG deciding to take a patient approach, so he seizes the window of opportunity to be the aggressor as he quickly fires his hands into the RG’s upper body. Clemons lands his hands and also gets low to create more power. He wins an angle to the outside and pressures the QB.
Clemons lines up over the TE. He is the play-side EDGE on this run, so he is arguably the most crucial defender on this play.
Clemons dominates the TE to muddy up the play. He strikes the TE’s outside shoulder with his right hand and torques the TE’s body to the inside, opening up an angle to penetrate downhill toward the outside. Clemons then re-works his left hand into the TE’s body to shove him into the backfield and force the RB to string the run out horizontally. This also disrupts the pulling center, allowing Jamien Sherwood to get in front of the RB and force him to try a cutback.
Once the RB tries to cut back, Clemons is positioned to stop it. Clemons throws the TE off of him and then makes a diving finish from behind, grabbing the RB around his ankle. Clemons then shows off some tenacity as he pounds the ground in celebration.
Back in a wide-9 alignment, Clemons again bullies Eagles LT Andre Dillard.
Clemons charges downhill and throws out his inside arm to fake a long-arm move (which is when the rusher attempts to drive the blocker using his inside arm). This goats Dillard into dropping his outside foot, as he is preparing to set his anchor and absorb head-on power in the form of a long-arm or bull rush.
Instead, Clemons throws a hump move, exploiting Dillard for being in a disadvantageous position to handle horizontal momentum. Clemons grabs Dillard’s inside shoulder with his left hand. He fires off his inside foot and works all of his force into that inside shoulder of Dillard, tossing him to the side. Clemons destroys the pocket and pressures the QB, forcing him into a low-percentage throw that he misses.
Another interior rep from Clemons. He takes on the LG this time.
We see Clemons win with some patience and finesse this time around. Clemons approaches the LG and gets him to throw his hands in anticipation of a power move. Instead, Clemons works outside. He cuts outside off his inside foot, swipes away the LG’s hands, and converts into a rip move to beat him around the corner. Clemons earns a direct angle to the QB but gets tripped.
Nothing too spectacular from Clemons here, although he does his job to create some pressure.
The Jets run a TT stunt involving both of their defensive tackles. Jonathan Marshall (4i-technique) crashes down while Clemons (2i-technique) loops behind him.
Clemons does a nice job selling his rush to the center, keeping him oblivious to the incoming hit from Marshall. This allows Marshall to eat up both the C and the RG, giving Clemons all the room he needs to loop outside and create pressure through the B-gap.
This is the furthest inside I saw Clemons line up, and it’s very notable to see him in that spot. Clemons is listed at 270 pounds. It’s not often you see a player that light line up in the A-gap, but the Jets seem to trust that Clemons can handle it – and he proved them right for at least one night. This also could be a glimpse at the type of role that the Jets have planned for John Franklin-Myers.
Clemons is going to be a nightmare matchup for TEs in the run game. On this play, he sets the edge with ease as he fends off the TE. Clemons moves the TE inside to create traffic while still maintaining outside leverage to defend a potential run to the edge.
Once Clemons sees the run going inside, he sheds the TE and gets involved in finishing the tackle, looking like a madman as he flies in with his wings fully extended.
Inside at 4i-technique on this play, we see a flash of the downside that can come with playing a 270-pound player on the interior as Clemons gets moved by a double-team and ends up slamming into Tanzel Smart. Both of his hands are on the ground at one point.
However, Clemons shows admirable hustle as he immediately gets off the ground and tracks the RB to make the tackle. The guy plays extremely hard and it shows up on his tape.
Inside once more, Clemons battles the LG. He goes right at him with the bull rush. Clemons keeps his hands tight and fires them into the chest of the LG, whose wide hands leave his body exposed. Clemons steamrolls the LG into the QB, forcing a scramble.
After that, you have to love how hard Clemons chases after the QB. A lot of guys would have haphazardly jogged after the QB in that scenario, but Clemons is absolutely booking it. He ends up getting some contact on the QB and makes his throw a little bit more difficult.
Micheal Clemons’s stock is on the rise
More than anything, I am so impressed with the fundamentals that Clemons showcased in this game. We knew about his physical traits, but those mean nothing if the player does not have the technique to maximize them.
Clemons showcased outstanding technique to get the most out of his raw abilities. He was great at engaging with tight hands to get into blockers’ chests and create an overwhelming bull rush. We saw him get low to generate more power. He showed a good understanding of angles as he set up his rush moves. To top it all off, he even used some sleek finesse moves.
While one good preseason game never guarantees anything, it is hard not to be optimistic about Clemons’s potential after this eye-popping display.
On a separate note, one thing these clips amplified for me is the likelihood that the poor play of Sheldon Rankins from last year may very well be where he is now as a player. He showed very little push in the pass rush in this game. Maybe it’s the issue of a veteran who is keeping things throttled low in pre-season however there are likely younger, stronger players than him on the Jets roster that may be more deserving of a roster spot come cut-down time.
When was the last time we picked a player in the middle rounds and he became a pro bowler? I think the answer is never. We are due!