Jarrad Davis’ Fast, Physical Presence Evident Versus Panther’s Running Game

A Film Review Of Jarrad Davis Against The Carolina Panthers In Week Five.

Davis’ Strength Versus Panthers Running Game

The Lions defense really missed linebacker Jarrad Davis the past couple of weeks. The whole unit looked better with their rookie middle linebacker on the field. Where you see Davis really aid the team right now is in the running game. The defense as a whole has stopped the run well this season. But this past week when Davis returned to the lineup, the defense improved against the run. The Panthers were limited to one yard per carry as a team, on 28 carries.

Something that was a draft concern for Davis coming into the NFL was his struggle to shed lineman blockers when they get to the second level. This concern is beginning to lessen with each film tape the rookie puts up. Not only is he getting off blocks better, but it is how he is getting off them that is important.

When Davis would shed blockers in college it was not due to his hand technique typically. He would use his speed to blow by defenders or use his physicality to go through them. In his first four games he has shown a willingness to shed blocks with his hands and not his shoulder. Against the Carolina Panthers, Davis showed better hand usage which helped him earn 2.5 tackles for a loss and was 2nd on the team in tackles with 8.

Davis Has Rookie Struggles

However, that tackle total could have been higher. There were a couple times in this game where he would take a good pursuit angle to the ball carrier, only to miss the tackle when he reaches his target. And one time he missed because he reverted back to an old habit.

On this play, #40 Jarrad Davis quickly recognizes the screen play developing and takes a great angle to the ball. As Panthers center Tyler Larsen attempts to engage Davis, he does something he did in Florida where he lowers his shoulder to blow by him. It works in getting by Larsen, but it slows him down enough he is not able to square up and drive through the ball-carrier. Instead, Davis is forced to lunge and leave his feet, taking away his momentum.

Jarrad also struggled in zone coverage against the Panthers. His presence in coverage was a noticeable improvement over the middle linebacker position in his absence. He was consistently just out of position to make a play on the ball or receiver. But his play recognition looks quicker every week, which will help mitigate this issue.

While he struggled a little bit in this game, the issues are correctable and not all that uncommon for rookies. But seeing Jarrad Davis improve on a week-to-week basis is encouraging for the Lions first round pick. His athleticism has allowed his presence to be felt in this defense. The rookie’s future this season has a bright outlook. With how well he has played so far and if he can keep improving upon his technical flaws, his career outlook also has a bright future.

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