As we approach 2017 free agency, I'd like to try and analyze some of the potential targets for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I will be conducting my analysis primarily through the use of a few GIFs from YouTube.
This week, we'll be discussing New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 90) -- currently 28 years old and listed at 6'5" and 278 pounds. Out of South Florida, Pierre-Paul was selected in the 2010 NFL Draft as the No. 15 overall pick, playing at both the right end and left end positions. Pierre-Paul is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, playing in 2011 and 2012. He also earned a spot on the All-Pro first team in 2011, after recording 16.5 sacks during that season.
Pierre-Paul exhibits above-average strength and intelligence at his position. One of Pierre-Paul's greatest assets is his ability to turn speed into power via the use of his hands. His bull rush off the edge continues to be one of the best in the league. He also seems to understand that he won't be able to get to the quarterback on every passing play. As a result, he often looks to get his hands up and make a deflection attempt. Pierre-Paul has 42 passes defended in his seven-year career, to go along with his 50 sacks.
In my brief analysis, Pierre-Paul seems stout enough against the run to not be a liability as an every-down end. Finally, he seems to have an uncanny knack for making splash plays, outside of just the normal sacks. I was able to gather four from last season alone, which you'll see in the videos below.
Pierre-Paul has missed 12 games over the last two seasons due to injury, which creates the biggest question for teams looking to acquire him in free agency. Can he stay healthy for an entire season? However, this is a question that cannot be answered, and one that you can ask about every player in the league. Football is a contact sport and injuries happen. The best thing teams can do is to have their specialists bring Pierre-Paul in for a physical and decide whether the injury is one that will persist into the future. If he's able to stay healthy throughout the season, there are not many flaws in Pierre-Paul's game.
The few that I've seen are that he's a liability in goal-line defense and not stout enough on the inside. New York tried to move Pierre-Paul inside on third down to get more pass rushers on the line. It's just not what he does. He is a true end that specializes in building speed around the edge and unloading into unsuspecting tackles. He's not a phone-booth guy and guards will beat him in close quarters.
With that said, let's move into the GIFs...
As I mentioned above, I believe that Pierre-Paul's best pass-rushing move is his bull rush. While some guys rely on finesse and technique, Pierre-Paul is one of the best at using his hands to launch into his opponent.
Mike Adams had a long day against Pierre-Paul in Week 11 -- ultimately giving up three sacks. This is the first of those, in which JPP drives Adams around the corner and slams him into Jay Cutler for the sack.
While JPP does not get the sack on the following play, you can see the effectiveness of his power move. He launches Morgan Moses back towards Kirk Cousins, eventually releasing to make an attempt at swatting the ball away.
The Bengals offensive line resembles swiss cheese in the following clip. Pierre-Paul does his part by driving Cedric Ogbuehi back into Andy Dalton and wrapping up for the sack. You can see the power in Pierre-Paul's initial burst and his ability to use Ogbuehi's momentum favorably.
The following clips show that Pierre-Paul is more than just a brute-force pass rusher. He's a cerebral player that is always considering how he can have the maximum effect on a given play.
In my opinion, this is Pierre-Paul's best play in the entire analysis. Nearly every other defensive end would've bit on the play action and over-pursued. Not Pierre-Paul. He resists the temptation to chase down the backside, in order to completely negate the read-option. You need great, disciplined ends in an age of athletic quarterbacks running the read-option.
He knows he's not going to get there. But that's doesn't stop him from getting his hands up and batting the ball down. Throughout his career, Pierre-Paul's averaged nearly six batted passes per season. Those aren't J.J. 'SWatt' numbers (7.5 per year), but they're good numbers nonetheless.
Another beautiful play. JPP makes Jordan Matthews look absolutely ridiculous on a block attempt. He then locks up on the pulling tackle and sets the edge for a tackle for a loss.
The goal line
As I said above, there aren't many flaws in Pierre-Paul's game. However, he tends to be least effective when he can't build up speed. Hence, matching him against a lineman 50 pounds heavier, in a goal-line situation, doesn't usually turn out well.
Marshal Yanda was out with an injury in Week 6. In comes his backup, Alex Lewis, who bullies Pierre-Paul at the goal line. Lewis basically takes him out of the play entirely.
Same matchup, same result. John Harbaugh caught on this time and decided to run directly at Pierre-Paul.
Charles Leno, Jr. blasts JPP back into the end zone. The fullback cleans up on Olivier Vernon, allowing the back to run in for the easy six.
Again, Jason Pierre-Paul is a true end. Although the Giants have attempted to use him inside for goal line and passing downs, he is not well-suited for phone-booth combat.
This one is kind of a continuation of the clips above. Pierre-Paul gets no push in close quarters against T.J. Clemmings.
Hey, look! It's the guy from last week! It's third down and the Giants have decided to move Pierre-Paul inside and match him up on Kevin Zeitler. Why? We'll never know!
Can we just keep him out on the edge where he belongs? Please!
Some players have it, some players don't. This year, we were able to experience first-hand the value of an end capable of creating splash plays and turnovers (thanks, Yannick!) but Pierre-Paul is a magnet for big plays.
Pierre-Paul bursts through the line and gets his hands up to block the kick.
This reminds me of the Dante Fowler swat and Yannick interception against the Colts. Johnathan Hankins gets to the quarterback and the ball flies up into the air. Who else but Pierre-Paul is there to grab it and run it in for six?
Poor Mike Adams...
Pierre-Paul never quits on the play, eventually chopping at the arms of the quarterback during the throw. Kerry Wynn then makes a great play to get the interception.
And there you have it -- my analysis of Giants end Jason Pierre-Paul. Do you think the Jaguars should pursue him in free agency, and to what extent? Thank you for reading. Be sure to chime in with your opinions and thoughts in the comments section.
Also, feel free to give suggestions as to which free agent you would like to see featured in next week's article. I currently have my eye on linebacker Nick Perry from the Green Bay Packers. But we all know how often Green Bay lets its own walk in free agency...