Unless you’ve spent the last week with your head in the sand, you’ve heard the news that the Denver Broncos will bring on DeMarcus Ware as a part-time pass-rush consultant. If you have spent your head in the sand, well come up for air and bask in that for a minute. While Von Miller can probably succeed without a great deal of guidance at this point in his career, the addition of another Hall of Fame pass rusher to guide and impart wisdom to the bevy of young rushers in Denver is nothing but great news. Shaq Barrett, Bradley Chubb and Shane Ray (once he’s healthy) could all benefit from the move. After all, Ware is the same guy who filmed this gem with NFL Network.
In case you forgot, Ware finished his career 8th on the all-time sack list with 138.5. I almost dedicated this weeks GIF Horse to him specifically as an excuse to go back and re-watch some of the clinics he put on. The man is a ninja master with the kind of assortment of pass rush moves that could take apart offensive linemen over the course of a game.
Which is exactly why Jeff Holland should be the biggest benefactor of Ware’s tutelage.
Count me among those that were surprised when the Auburn Tiger fell into Elway’s lap as an undrafted free agent. His 9 sacks ranked second only to the 10 Charles Wright and Montez Sweat put up a year ago. He also forced three separate fumbles, which again ranked second in the conference. Simply put, he was a disruptive force. But he also comes into the league with big question marks, at least one of which you have to think Ware will help with.
The first thing I noticed as I started to pore over Holland’s tape was how quick he was off the ball. It’s clearly a strength of his and one of the reasons why he could transition from a linebacker position as a Freshman to the Edge rushing force he became last year despite weighing in a shade under 250lbs. Watching tape you see a bit of Shaq in him. He’s quick enough to terrorize offensive lineman, enough so that he caused three different false starts in his matchup against Clemson in 2017.
But the second thing I started to notice was just how similar his rushes looked on tape.
There’s a perfectly good reason for this. Whether he’s lined up on the left edge, right edge or on Mars, Holland is a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to his pass-rush repertoire. Granted, this isn’t all that uncommon among collegiate edge players, and Holland’s one trick is a damn good one. He shows signs of a developing rip move as well, but it will need work if he’s going to realistically use it against professional tackles.
Enter Ware. Again, watch this video and try to tell me Holland won’t benefit. Of course, Ware can’t fix all of Holland’s problems.
Holland does a number of things wrong on the play above, but it best illustrates one issue in particular: he’s light and can get walloped at the point of attack when an opposing team runs directly at him. There were a couple of times on tape he reminded me of my Shane Ray 2017 study where it was just cringe-worthy.
Now there’s reason to hope that a move to the Broncos system could alleviate a bit of the concerns posed here. For one, if Holland makes the active roster he’ll likely serve as a situational pass rusher. That means downs where teams are less likely to run power into his face.
Another reason for hope? Holland is just 20 years old and there were questions about his game shape in college. If he’s serious about making the roster that seems like something that will resolve itself this summer. One has to believe he’ll continue to grow into his body and get stronger. It’s that or he won’t last long in the league.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m still so high on Holland if he may well wash out? Four straight plays against LSU really won me over.
Effort and Ferocity
Play 1: At this point in the game Auburn is barely clinging to a 2 point lead and LSU is driving. Holland is the first player off the ball on third and long and pressures the quarterback. Doesn’t matter, long completion. 1st and 10.
Play 2: Holland eats some grass here, but finds his feet in time to wrangle Danny Etling. The play may be the one that best encapsulates Holland as a player. He’s about as fiery as they come, even if it means winning ugly. 2nd down.
Play 3: Now a quick confession: My brother and I started a new version of Brother Bowl. This time with Madden 17. I don’t think words can describe how often I’ve given up a conversion on a play like the one above because some jerk breaks my contain and completes a pass near the sticks. These kind of plays don’t really show up on the individual stat sheet but play huge dividends in wins and losses. The fact that Holland keeps Etling inside here? Prevents a breakdown and gets the D to 3rd down.
Play 4: Once again Holland tears off the edge and actually beats his man, but gets caught when a pair of sticky mitts latch onto his jersey. This time Etling drops back deep enough to scramble out and Holland pursues, throwing his hands up to bait the flag. The maneuver gets him free in time to watch Etling force a throw, it’s a miss and the drive stalls out.
These four plays happen in the span of about 70 seconds game time. Holland is ever bit as quick off the snap on the second third down as he is the first. He’s a gamer. If Ware and the Broncos staff can work on him outside of the lines to get him into better shape and equipped with another move or two to beat blockers? Elway may not need to worry so much about Shaq or Ray’s contract demands in 2019.
Still Grazin’? A couple thoughts.
- Bradley Chubb has no excuse with Ware on board. I was a bit skeptical of the decision, but with Ray injured? Bring on the Chubb.
- Some may think it’s homerism, but still think there’s no reason for Kayvon Webster shouldn’t get an invite to camp. At worst he doesn’t make it back from his injury, but he could provide valuable depth to a position group that sorely needs it.
- Been two years since I played any form of Madden, ever since I blew up my Xbox when I was living in Korea. A couple of thoughts on Madden 17: A) I wish the AI was smarter instead of the computer just getting away with stupid stuff such as spin juking tight ends. Heath Miller shouldn’t be able to juke out three of my defenders, even if I’m not paying close attention. B) It’s probably not healthy how much I love roster building an NFL team. I beat out my brother to sign a 6th round QB named James Dailey, who’s only gone on to break the rookie TD record Andrew Luck set. Baby Vick and a southpaw to boot. I’m in love.
- Speaking of Andrew Luck, but color me skeptical for his football chances. Rooting for him as he’s a ton of fun to watch, but things sound pretty bleak out of all Colts sources.
- Last but surely not least- can’t thank Jesse Fritsch enough for sharing his database of collegiate athletes. Without that I’d have a rough time finding tape on Holland, Chubb and others. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter @CalhounLambeau
I continue to be amazed at the awesome reception the GIF Horse series has received among Broncos Country. I really appreciate all the support and suggestions as I’m always hoping to make this better. I don’t want to spam but will share the links to all the previous ones here as I’ve gotten word from a few readers that they weren’t aware of the others last week.
Garett Bolles - How much can fans expect him to improve this year?
Shelby Harris - Why I think he’s the Broncos most valuable defensive lineman.
Justin Simmons - Is Darian Stewart right? Is Simmons poised for a Pro Bowl year?
Shane Ray Vs Shaquill Barrett - who should Elway hold onto?
Royce Freeman - why I think he’s the dark horse contender for OROY.