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Dontari Poe to NFL: You're on Notice



Poe spent his afternoon Sunday dominating the line of scrimmage and sending a message to the rest of the league.
"Dontari Poe had a poor rookie year."

I lost track of the number of times I read that sentence (or a very similar one) over the course of this summer. National columnists (mostly copying one another) repeated all the same themes: that Poe struggled, he needed work, was too raw, etc.

This wouldn't have bothered me if it had been, you know, true. All someone had to do was go back and watch the film to see that Poe actually had a decent rookie year. He wasn't all world, but he wasn't the anchor so many were making him out to be. Naturally, trying to share this information got me (and other like-minded individuals) labeled a homer, a Kool-Aid drinkers, a sketchy individual worthy of mockery. It was a tad infuriating.

But I endured. Because I knew that Poe had the size/speed/strength combination to do great things. I knew that with our new scheme (featuring a lot more attacking and a lot less "hey, stand here and watch the gaps next to you") could pay huge dividends for him. And I knew that with a year of getting used to NFL offensive linemen (it's a tad bit of a jump from Memphis to the big leagues), Poe was poised to do something big. I crossed my fingers and prayed I wasn't wrong.

Then Sunday, Poe sent a message to every offensive coordinator in the league. That message being:

"Be ready to double team me every play. Every. Single. Play."

Poe went into Week 1 with everyone saying, "well, maybe he'll work out." 1.5 sacks (or 2, if you don't want to give Eric Berry his half of a sack), a deflected pass, several QB hits/pressures, and 3 tackles in which he absolutely halted the runner later ("stops" under PFF's definition) later... The dialogue changed to "holy crap."

The numbers are impressive. His impact was clear to anyone watching the game. But just how well did he play from snap to snap? Only one way to find out... go back and review the film. What was Poe doing right? Were there any issues that need addressing? How many times did Tyson Jackson moon us? Only by re-watching every snap multiple times will I be able to answer these very important questions.

I agonized over exactly how to do this (mostly because I'm strange like that). Do I break down every single snap? Do I re-watch all the snaps and give impressions on various aspects of Poe's game when I'm done? Or do I just start watching and write notes as I go? After way, way more thought than the decision merited, I'm going with the 3rd option. These notes will be based on re-watching of various snaps. At times I'll describe the play, at times I won't. Let's do this!

Notes

-The very first play of the game, Poe is lined up at LDE instead of NT. He delivers a PUNCH to the RG that literally throws the man backward. Of course, Gabbert got rid of the ball in roughly .35 seconds, so it didn't even result in a pressure. But it was cool to see all the same.

-I just have to say (even though it's got nothing to do with Poe) that my heart SANK after that blocked punt. Absolute sank. I got that familiar "here we go" feeling. I've rarely been more happy to be wrong.

-Man, on one of Poe's "stops" he just rode the center to his left (the run was going right), giving absolutely zero ground, then just disengaged when he saw MJD coming his way. A G attempted to engage and Poe just casually shoves him aside and lays a nice hit to prevent any gain. Too big, too strong.

-Want to know why Just Houston went absolutely free at Gabbert on his first sack? A big part of it was because the RT chose to block a rushing Tjax, because the RG couldn't do it. Why? Because he was busy helping the C double team Poe. This is what happens when you've got a guy who demands a double team on the interior. Pass rushers get a straight line to the QB.

-Man, Poe almost ran down a screen on a 3rd and 23. He missed the tackle, but because of him the runner had to stop completely, allowing the rest of the defense to catch up (play ended well short of the 1st down). His speed is remarkable for a guy his size.

-That batted pass was just a great heads up play by the 2nd year player. He saw it was a quick throw, disengaged, timed his jump correctly, and swatted the pass out of the air. Led to a punt.

-From what I'm seeing on running plays, Poe's awareness has drastically improved. He recognizes where the runner is going and can disengage from a blocker seemingly at will. Also, when Poe hits runners they are stopped cold.

-Got too aggressive and overpursued on a 3rd down conversion (screen pass). Had Poe kept more control as he pursued, he would've been able to help Dunta Robinson make the tackle prior to the 1st down marker.

-When JAC's center is matched up against Poe individually on pass protection, Poe just MOVES him backward. This happens time after time. I looked it up, and the Jags C is listed at a shade over 290 pounds. It's not even fair.

-Poe moving a double team backward. This is huge. I'd never seen him manage that before. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the chaos Poe can cause if he's able to beat double teams even half the time. Are you smiling? I’m smiling.

-Re-watching this game it's easy to see why MJD averaged 3 yards a carry. It's not just Poe. The entire defensive is giving absolutely zero ground to the Jaguars' offensive line. There's nowhere to go for MJD.

-You can see Poe is a little fatigued near the end of the 1st half. His handfighting looks a little like he's thinking "let's just get this over with so I can sit in an air-conditioned locker room for a little while." I can't really blame the guy. He's been out there almost every snap and has been the most consistently double teamed player on the DL.

-Poe's sack to end the 1st half is a great example as to why he could have a devastating impact on offenses this year. We only rushed 3 (Catapano, Poe, Hali). The LG was looking to help against Hali, and the RG was looking to help on Catapano initially. That leaves Poe alone with the C. Not even a contest. Poe gets leverage and walks him backward (more like runs him backward), and by the time the RG tries to help Poe is in Gabbert's lap and it's too late. Getting pressure when only rushing 3 is how you destroy offenses.

-Poe draws a triple team, with all 3 interior linemen focusing on him. That's how you know you're causing problems for the offense.

-Even when Poe gets hit HARD by a double team (knocking him backward a yard initially), he recovers, sets his feet, and drives in the direction of the ball. The man is strong.

-Poe's half-sack (that came out weird) was mostly the result of the rest of the D chasing Gabbert toward him. Still did a good job disengaging when Gabbert got close. He's too quick for OL when he disengages, they can't keep their hands on him.

-If it weren't for Houston being a beast, Poe would've had another sack. Houston gets there about .1 second before Poe. It's a really well done stunt where Tjax SLAMS into the C and RG and forces them to engage, then Poe just circles around and sprints toward Gabbert.

-On Akeem Jordan's TFL against Denard Robinson, guess why he was able to shoot through the line untouched. Yep, Poe taking on a double team. These are the plays that don't collect stats, but are crucial for team success.

-Several run plays in a row where Poe has a shot at making the play but doesn't disengage quickly enough. This was right after Tamba's pick-6, so there's a chance fatigue was in play here.

-Well, maybe it wasn't fatigue. Because a couple plays later, Poe stuffs MJD.

Takeaways

If you've read this far, you love the Chiefs way too much. That said, the general impression I got of Poe watching the game initially were that he was too big, too fast, and too strong for the Jags' OL. Re-watching, I wasn't disappointed. Poe was giving them problems pretty consistently. In fact, basically every play he WASN'T doubled he was winning his individual matchup.

His technique seems to have improved. He's not going sideways, he's keeping his head up, he's getting his hands inside the pads of the OL he's facing... he clearly learned a ton his rookie year. Combine that with his ridiculous physical gifts and you've got a guy who is tough to handle.

Now, Jacksonville isn't known for having an elite... well, anything. And that includes OL. So I'm sure there will be those who say this game means nothing. I disagree. This was a game where Poe dominated the line of scrimmage from start to finish. That means something. And don't think that the Cowboys coaches aren't watching tape right now saying, "man, what are we going to do about that man mountain they've got at NT?"

They've been put on notice. As has the rest of the NFL.
  • William Watts likes this



15 Comments

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Jason Drake
Sep 10 2013 06:10 PM

I think there's a scale of time-to-effectiveness for different positions.

 

Receivers, quarterbacks, and defensive backs have to learn the nuances of passing routes, and can take 3+ years to reach a quality level of play.

 

Running backs and linebackers can contribute as rookies.  The game moves faster, but finding the right angles is the same task they were doing at the college level. And they're in a better position to learn faster, because the things they need to see are in front of them on every play.

 

Defensive linemen have to adjust their subtle swim/rip/punch moves to the greater strength and speed of NFL opponents.  And linemen on both sides of the ball have a big learning disadvantage compared to other positions because the full-scale hitting and shoving can't be done over and over again in practice.

 

So, year 2 as a breakout year (at least statistically) is a good bet for a DT with solid athleticism.

    • Seth Keysor and upamtn like this
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Chad Jensen
Sep 10 2013 07:00 PM

Let's not forget that it was against the Jags. Don't crown him yet. 

    • Lucas Polglaze likes this
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William Watts
Sep 10 2013 07:48 PM

It takes NFL linemen 3+ years to have production ~ Chiefs fans when Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Junior Siavii, Tank Tyler, Eddie Freeman...etc... didn't produce sacks in their first two seasons.

 

Dontari Poe gets 1.5 sacks in game one....

 

Now the NFL is on notice in Chiefs Nation ~ Seems legit.

 

All that said, Dontari Poe did look impressive.

 

Seems about right.

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Seth Keysor
Sep 10 2013 08:06 PM

Let's not forget that it was against the Jags. Don't crown him yet. 

 

And that's why I re-watch the film.  To see if it's just a case of the other team making dumb mistakes or if it's Poe making plays. 

It was the latter.

And Jason, I agree that it's tough for DL.  They go from being bigger/stronger/faster than everyone to playing guys on their level.  Plus it takes time to learn the tricks of the trade.

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Lucas Polglaze
Sep 10 2013 08:10 PM

Let's not forget that it was against the Jags. Don't crown him yet. 

 

Agreed. He did have an excellent game but the Jaguars have next to little talent and there are some good players on that Chiefs defense helping him out. Think of it as Justin Smith Syndrome.

 

Still, he played an excellent game.

 

I will say this: I am interested to see how he does against the Cowboys.

    • Seth Keysor likes this

I think Poe probably did have a pretty poor year last year, but expectations for many of us were so low, that we were pleasantly surprised that he was even adequate.

 

That said, the year of experience, the off-season conditioning and loss of weight, as well as the new style of defense, all seem to have him ready to more than justify his high draft pick.  It's going to be a pretty awesome defense if he can keep this up!

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Seth Keysor
Sep 10 2013 10:00 PM

I think Poe probably did have a pretty poor year last year, but expectations for many of us were so low, that we were pleasantly surprised that he was even adequate.

 

That said, the year of experience, the off-season conditioning and loss of weight, as well as the new style of defense, all seem to have him ready to more than justify his high draft pick.  It's going to be a pretty awesome defense if he can keep this up!

 

That's a fair point.  I was disappointed with the pick and stunned when he was (as you say) adequate.  Given the worry with him was a low floor that help assuage the concern.

 

And absolutely.  If Poe plays like this all year, it's going to be a great season.

    • Tarkus likes this

... a sketchy individual worthy of mockery

and this is news?  (angelic smile)

-----------------------------------------

 

nice writeup from your excellent notes ... and while you're spot on (notice how I casually got the blog name in there?  that should get me some kind of "extra credit" or a free membership or something) about the Jags OLine being less than stellar, it was STILL one helluva game from Poe

 

if he's doubled even half the time, that's going to open up a LOT of holes for TJax, Hali, Houston, Berry (yeah, I'm all for the Safety Blitz) and others ... we have some downright beasts on this D and it's time to let them loose and wreak havoc on the NFL, and it all starts up front (and HOW many times have I said over at AP that the game is won and lost on the line, and your rundown proves it)

 

thank you for putting in the time to do this, and "hey" to Scoreboard

    • Seth Keysor likes this
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Seth Keysor
Sep 11 2013 02:41 AM

and this is news?  (angelic smile)

-----------------------------------------

 

nice writeup from your excellent notes ... and while you're spot on (notice how I casually got the blog name in there?  that should get me some kind of "extra credit" or a free membership or something) about the Jags OLine being less than stellar, it was STILL one helluva game from Poe

 

if he's doubled even half the time, that's going to open up a LOT of holes for TJax, Hali, Houston, Berry (yeah, I'm all for the Safety Blitz) and others ... we have some downright beasts on this D and it's time to let them loose and wreak havoc on the NFL, and it all starts up front (and HOW many times have I said over at AP that the game is won and lost on the line, and your rundown proves it)

 

thank you for putting in the time to do this, and "hey" to Scoreboard

 

The game is indeed won and lost at the line.  Now, in the new age of QB's reigning supreme, that would seem to be different.  But really, at the end of the day, even the best QBs have problems if their OL is losing the trench battle.

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William Watts
Sep 11 2013 03:20 AM

I think Poe probably did have a pretty poor year last year, but expectations for many of us were so low, that we were pleasantly surprised that he was even adequate.

 

That said, the year of experience, the off-season conditioning and loss of weight, as well as the new style of defense, all seem to have him ready to more than justify his high draft pick.  It's going to be a pretty awesome defense if he can keep this up!

 

Dontari Poe played well... I remember calling him the Friendly Paddy Cake Monster before the Chiefs drafted him.

 

Last year, he played okay at times, but he wasn't playing up to his "Poe"tential either. That is why a lot of people said he sucked, it's because people expected a lot of a mountain in the middle... but he played football less like a mountain, and more like a 2012 Chief ( you thought I was going to say molehill, didn't you Ups.) His play was good at times, he flashed skill, he wasn't consistently bad. He sucked in the sense that he wasn't doing anything good either, he was just there, taking on blocks trying to make an occasional stop. Getting tackles at the line of scrimmage instead of in the back field. Taking on two blockers and getting stood up, mind you, he held firm stood up, but he wasn't getting push either. It was okay, it was lackluster... it wasn't worth saying he was good, so people said he sucked. That's NFL fans for you... if you are not great, you suck.

 

Can you say Dontari was great last year, Seth?

 

NO! ~ Seth  (that just happened)

 

Well, then he sucked. It's pretty simple.

 

This year Dontari Poe may be great, then people won't say he sucked... right?

 

YES! ~ Seth (damn, it happened again.)

 

and with parentheses too... ouch (sorry Tarkus, I got off subject.)

 

Some Pig! ~ Seth (Wait, that's Charlotte's Web... carry on.)

    • Tarkus likes this

The game is indeed won and lost at the line.  Now, in the new age of QB's reigning supreme, that would seem to be different.  But really, at the end of the day, even the best QBs have problems if their OL is losing the trench battle.

so I put to you (all) this query as low-calorie food for thought ... Fisher or Winston?  seriously, I thought Winston was a beast last year but what do I know (do NOT answer that, anyone!)

 

have to say that I'm liking what I see from our OLine ... and yeah it's early, and yeah a lot is based on potential of the young guys (Fisher, Hudson and Moar Jeff Allen)

 

[side note to Mr Watts"  POE-tential?  ohhhhhhh that's good, that's very good)

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Seth Keysor
Sep 13 2013 05:40 PM

so I put to you (all) this query as low-calorie food for thought ... Fisher or Winston?  seriously, I thought Winston was a beast last year but what do I know (do NOT answer that, anyone!)

 

have to say that I'm liking what I see from our OLine ... and yeah it's early, and yeah a lot is based on potential of the young guys (Fisher, Hudson and Moar Jeff Allen)

 

[side note to Mr Watts"  POE-tential?  ohhhhhhh that's good, that's very good)

 

Man, I was STUNNED when we cut Winston.  But obviously, what they want from a RT is someone who is better in pass protection.  I've liked what I've seen out of Fisher so far, but it still bums me out when I think of what we could've done with that number 1 pick on a team that seems poised to take a gigantic step forward.  That said, I assume Reid knows what he needs in tackles, and Winston has had all kinds of trouble finding work.  So I have to assume that NFL GMs and coaches saw his film and didn't think he looked good last year, regardless of what most Chiefs fans thought.

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William Watts
Sep 13 2013 07:13 PM

Man, I was STUNNED when we cut Winston.  But obviously, what they want from a RT is someone who is better in pass protection.  I've liked what I've seen out of Fisher so far, but it still bums me out when I think of what we could've done with that number 1 pick on a team that seems poised to take a gigantic step forward.  That said, I assume Reid knows what he needs in tackles, and Winston has had all kinds of trouble finding work.  So I have to assume that NFL GMs and coaches saw his film and didn't think he looked good last year, regardless of what most Chiefs fans thought.

 

This comment is sick and disgusting ~ Eric Winston

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Williamcubed
Sep 14 2013 06:21 PM

Poe is on the cusp of transforming the personality of our whole defense. His effectiveness in the center of the line is going to allow several Chiefs to have a career year. Sutton will be hailed as a defensive genius. The DB's will be ball hawks  with extreme prejudice. The only sad side effect will be that the big changes on the offensive side of the ball will be overlooked. Thats ok though as I rather like being a fan of a defensive juggernaught.

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Seth Keysor
Sep 15 2013 02:03 AM

Poe is on the cusp of transforming the personality of our whole defense. His effectiveness in the center of the line is going to allow several Chiefs to have a career year. Sutton will be hailed as a defensive genius. The DB's will be ball hawks  with extreme prejudice. The only sad side effect will be that the big changes on the offensive side of the ball will be overlooked. Thats ok though as I rather like being a fan of a defensive juggernaught.

 

Man, I don't hate the way you think.

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