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Tyron vs. Haason: Which Jets star won head-to-head duel in 2023?

Tyron Smith, Haason Reddick, NY Jets, Film
Tyron Smith, Haason Reddick, New York Jets, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

Tyron Smith vs. Haason Reddick: A battle of two future New York Jets stars

The New York Jets made a plethora of intriguing additions in the 2024 offseason. Even with so many talented players coming in, there is no disputing that their two most talented additions were Tyron Smith and Haason Reddick.

Always a believer in building through the trenches, general manager Joe Douglas walked his talk by landing a superstar in the trenches on each side of the football. Smith is an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro at left tackle. Reddick is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and is on a streak of four consecutive seasons with double-digit sacks; he ranks fourth in the NFL with 50.5 sacks since 2020.

Coming to New York from the Cowboys and Eagles, respectively, Smith and Reddick went head-to-head in two games last season as NFC East rivals. What better way to get to know the Jets’ two new superstars than watching them go one-on-one?

Interestingly, Reddick’s usage in Philadelphia deemed that he wouldn’t face Smith all that often. In 2023, Reddick lined up on the left side of the defensive line on 87% of his snaps, which means he faced the opposing right tackle on most of his plays. Reddick averaged only 6.5 snaps per game on the right side (vs. LT). For this reason, there isn’t a ton of Smith-versus-Reddick tape to unpack.

However, we’re lucky enough to have more Smith-versus-Reddick reps than you would expect based on his usage throughout the season. The Eagles gave Reddick significantly more opportunities on the right side in his two games against Dallas. He played 12 snaps on the right side in each Cowboys game, giving him a total of 24 snaps in which he lined up across from Smith in 2023. That’s more than double his average number of right-side snaps in all other games (5.8).

Let’s watch all 24 plays in which Haason Reddick lined up across from Tyron Smith in 2023. Which future Jets star won the head-to-head battle?

We’ll label the outcome of each play – Smith victory, Reddick victory, or stalemate – and tally the scorecard at the end.

Week 9 @ Philadelphia (Cowboys 23, Eagles 28)

Smith wears No. 77. Reddick wears No. 7.

The Cowboys run away from Reddick’s side. Reddick is the EMOL (end man on line of scrimmage), so he positions himself on Smith’s outside shoulder to set the edge. Smith gets to his spot and doesn’t let Reddick get any penetration, but Reddick holds his ground and maintains outside leverage. Given his role in this play, I don’t think Reddick was really trying to get past Smith. He is responsible for holding the edge and can’t vacate his area until he confirms the run is going away from him. Ultimately, I’m calling this one a stalemate.

Verdict: Stalemate

The Cowboys run a play-action bootleg away from Reddick, so he doesn’t have much of a role in this play anyway, but Smith clearly wins this one. Smith squares him up and drives him multiple yards toward the sideline, giving him no chance of getting back into the play.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 1, Reddick 0 – 1 stalemate)

Smith and Reddick have a key role in this play, as they’re going one-on-one on an extended dropback with Dak Prescott beginning his progression on their side. Smith dominates. Reddick whiffs with his outside-arm chop and that allows Smith to gain control. Prescott can’t find anyone open and has to scramble due to interior pressure, but thanks to a clean blind side, he is able to scramble for some yards instead of getting sacked or hit.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 2, Reddick 0 – 1 stalemate)

Another clear win for Smith in an extended-dropback one-on-one. Smith patiently waits for Reddick to throw his hands, and once Reddick attacks, Smith pulls his hands away, leaving Reddick swatting at air. Smith quickly throws his punch while Reddick is vulnerable and establishes control.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 3, Reddick 0 – 1 stalemate)

This was the first play after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia led by five points, putting Dallas in obvious passing mode. Starting with this play, the Eagles placed Reddick on Smith’s side on each of the game’s final eight plays.

It doesn’t affect the result of the play, but Reddick finally beats Smith. Reddick comes at Smith more aggressively than the previous two reps, immediately attacking him with the bull rush instead of angling outside to set up a chop. With a quicker approach, Reddick is able to make first contact this time, as he gets his hands into Smith’s chest before Smith can respond. Reddick then seals the victory using a jerk move, in which he yanks Smith forward.

Pressure from the other edge forced Prescott to move away from Reddick, but if Prescott remained in the spot where he initially set up, Reddick probably would have rocked him with a blind-side sack.

Verdict: Reddick (Smith 3, Reddick 1 – 1 stalemate)

Tough call here. Reddick goes with another bull rush and walks Smith back, nearly pushing him into Prescott. However, Smith still holds up well enough for Prescott to read the entire field and get the ball out without being affected. I’m going to call this one a stalemate. With another split-second, Reddick might have made a big play, but Smith still survived well enough for the play to be executed on-schedule. Good job on both sides, in my opinion.

Verdict: Stalemate (Smith 3, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Give this one to Smith. He knows he has RB help to the inside, so he lets Reddick have the inside spin and works him into the RB, forming a double team. Smith keeps working and moves Reddick far to the inside, giving Prescott plenty of space to operate.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 4, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Got to give this one to Smith. Even though Reddick is able to get some separation on the speed rush, he goes too far up the field to do it. Even if the RB didn’t get involved, Smith probably would have run Reddick up the arc, allowing Prescott to easily step up. With help from the RB, Smith prevents Reddick from affecting the play. Reddick eventually disengages and chases down Prescott, but he hits him late and is called for roughing the passer.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 5, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Reddick tries another chop and misses again as Smith dominates. Watch how Smith shows his outside hand and then drops it when Reddick starts throwing his chop, again leaving him swatting at air. After dropping his outside hand, Smith immediately comes back up with both hands, catching Reddick at the perfect moment when he is left vulnerable.

Smith clearly did his film study on Reddick going into this game. His hand timing against Reddick’s moves was flawless. He knew what was coming and when it was coming, allowing himself to perfectly time his punches to thwart Reddick’s moves. And, just in general, Smith’s hands are incredible, both in terms of technique and speed. He’s got so many moves in his toolbox, executes them with precision, and does it all with incredible swiftness. I can’t stop replaying the 0:04-0:05 part of this clip; it’s mesmerizing how fast he brings his hands back up after dropping that outside hand to dodge the chop.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 6, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

The All-22 wasn’t available for this play for some reason. Anyway, Smith gets perhaps his most dominant win yet as he drops Reddick into the ground.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 7, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

This is a Hail Mary situation, so Reddick’s main goal is to keep Prescott in the pocket. Smith doesn’t let Reddick pull it off as he comes out and meets Reddick instead of dropping back vertically (you can see the RT does the same thing). Smith draws Reddick’s hands with a fake punch and then shoves his inside shoulder to send him up the field. Prescott gets plenty of room to step up toward Smith’s side and make a pass attempt.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 8, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

On the Cowboys’ final Hail Mary attempt, Reddick takes a more patient approach this time around to ensure Prescott can’t go anywhere. Still, Smith mirrors Reddick’s every move and doesn’t let him affect the play in any way.

Smith dominated Reddick in this game.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 9, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Week 14 @ Dallas (Eagles 13, Cowboys 33)

Smith gets some help from a chip and picks up where he left off in the previous game.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 10, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Reddick finally makes some contact on his chop, giving him an angle to try and bend the corner. Despite giving up the outside, Smith is able to get both hands on, flip his hips, and run Reddick past the QB.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 11, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Smith notices Reddick tucking his elbows and loading up for a bull rush, so he responds by shooting his outside hand. Showing off his incredible hand speed, Smith is able to land his punch into Reddick’s chest before Reddick makes contact, even though Smith was reacting to Reddick punching first. Incredible. If you pause around the 0:05 mark at the moment Smith starts shooting his outside hand, you can see Reddick’s elbows are already tucked and he is mid-punch.

Smith’s initial punch slows Reddick down. It lands a little high, catching Reddick in the facemask, but it’s enough to stymie the bull rush. Smith then reworks both hands into Reddick and takes control.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 12, Reddick 1 – 2 stalemates)

Reddick finally lands a clean chop with his outside arm. After this, Smith responds by firing both hands into Reddick’s chest to drive him up the field. Smith is leaning at this point since he had to overcompensate after Reddick landed the chop, so Reddick actually disengages from Smith rather quickly to free himself up. Reddick uses his inside arm to shove Smith’s inside shoulder and send him up the field. Reddick may have had a chance to make a play if the ball weren’t out so quickly, although he is very far from Prescott at this point (from one hash to the other).

I’ll call this one a stalemate. Reddick had a solid initial move and disengaged pretty quickly. Prescott’s quick release prevented him from having a chance to at least get home for a pressure. However, since Smith took the initiative to slide all the way out to Reddick’s wide alignment, Reddick never actually made any ground on Prescott even if he technically “won” the rep in a reasonable amount of time. Reddick would’ve needed very favorable circumstances in terms of release time and QB positioning to have a chance of affecting the play.

Verdict: Stalemate (Smith 12, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

This isn’t a “bad” play by Reddick, as he basically does his job, but I think Smith wins here. Reddick is already in a wide alignment and he allows Smith to come meet him all the way out there. Reddick doesn’t necessarily get steamrolled when Smith meets him, and he fulfills his responsibility of maintaining outside leverage. Still, since he didn’t close any ground on Smith from his wide alignment, look how far out they are. Reddick is yielding plenty of running room if the run ends up going that way. Plus, Smith does create some movement; he meets Reddick on the hashes and gets him to take a full hop toward the sidelines. He seemed to be in a good position to create more movement if the play continued and/or he didn’t get caught up from behind.

I would’ve liked to see a little more aggressiveness from Reddick here against a shotgun alignment with the RB on his side – it’s not as if Prescott is a read-option threat on this part of the field, and with the RB on his side, he knows he’s probably not getting any sort of wide run to his side. The pre-snap motion also goes away from him, taking away the threat of a motion handoff towards his edge. Get in there and create some traffic instead of hanging back and letting the tackle come out to you.

Give Smith credit for setting the tone by coming out with an aggressive climb and landing the block without whiffing.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 13, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

Reddick actually gets his hands into Smith’s chest on this bull rush, but there isn’t much power behind it since his hands and feet aren’t paired up. Reddick shoots his hands while his outside foot is in mid-air, so there’s no explosion behind it. Due to the lack of power, Smith is unaffected even though Reddick gets into his chest. Smith easily anchors down and reworks his hands to keep Reddick at bay.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 14, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

Hell of a cut block. Smith lays out and hits Reddick right in the thighs to create tons of movement.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 15, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

Smith and Reddick don’t match up here as the Cowboys hit Reddick with a crack block while Smith pulls. Dallas’ crack on Reddick is successful while Smith gets out in space with an utterly dominant block on the DB.

Verdict: None

I could be wrong, but the way Philadelphia is aligned here, my guess is that Reddick is responsible for both the B gap (inside of Smith) and C gap (outside of Smith), which means he wants to play Smith straight-up so he can defend either gap. This is contrary to most of the run plays we watched previously, where it seemed Reddick’s sole job was to defend the outside.

Smith comes out to meet Reddick and moves him back a bit. Smith is also able to work himself to the inside of Reddick, which is to Dallas’ advantage since the run is designed to go inside to the left. Reddick has to work outside to get off the block, vacating space on the inside – which the RB runs through.

Verdict: Smith (Smith 16, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

Smith gets some help from a chip, but he completely dominates Reddick in yet another pass set. It seems like Smith grips Reddick’s left shoulder pad, which is what allows him to corral Reddick so tightly throughout the rep. Some might argue this should be a penalty, but it doesn’t catch the officials’ attention since Smith had Reddick bottled up and he wasn’t separating. Smith also keeps his arms tight and inside his frame, which buys the blocker more leeway. This isn’t a penalty, in my opinion. (The flags thrown were on the center.)

Verdict: Smith (Smith 17, Reddick 1 – 3 stalemates)

Smith leaves Reddick unblocked since he is the back side defender on a run to the opposite side.

You get a nice glimpse of Reddick’s speed on this play.

Verdict: None

Smith closes out our film review with a cherry on top. It looks like Reddick is going for a long-arm, which is basically a one-hand bull rush using the inside arm. Smith thwarts it with perhaps his most marvelous handiwork yet.

First, watch Smith’s outside hand, which makes first contact to slow Reddick down. Smith shoots his outside hand and latches hands with Reddick just before his inside arm can make contact, already slowing him down before his primary move even lands. Reddick lands his inside hand on Smith’s body, but since Smith threw him off by hitting his outside hand first, the inside hand is inaccurate, hitting the outer part of Smith’s inside shoulder. This prevents him from generating any sort of meaningful movement.

With the outside hands latched and Reddick’s inside hand in a suboptimal position, Smith affirms control by landing his inside hand underneath Reddick’s inside shoulder pad and grabbing on (legally). From there, it’s over.

Verdict: Smith

Final score:

  • Tyron Smith: 18
  • Haason Reddick: 1
  • Stalemates: 3
  • No contest: 2

Tyron Smith is a star-eraser

It was only 24 plays (including just 22 where they actually battled), which is a very small sample. That’s essentially 40% of one game’s worth for Reddick – he lined up on Smith’s side on 20% of his snaps in each game.

Nonetheless, Smith was totally dominant against his future teammate. There was only one play out of 22 where I thought Reddick definitively outplayed Smith. If you had never heard of Reddick before watching these 24 clips, you would have no idea he is an elite player.

It’s a testament to Smith’s greatness far more than it is a knock on Reddick. His lack of production against a five-time All-Pro doesn’t change the reality that he is one of the NFL’s top-four sack artists of the 2020s.

In fact, Reddick was fantastic against Dallas when he lined up away from Smith. Across the two games, Reddick accumulated 10 total pressures, including three sacks.

We know how much of a beast Reddick is. The fact that he looks like a regular dude against Smith just goes to show how special the Jets’ new left tackle is.

Star edge rushers used to circle the Jets on their calendars. Now, they’ll lose sleep.

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