January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) grabs Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) as he scrambles during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Two years ago there were two big names at defensive end in the 2011 NFL Draft: J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan. One camp of scouts favored Jordan noting that while Watt was bigger than Jordan, Jordan had better upside physically speaking.
Well the numbers tell a different story. While Jordan has recorded nine career sacks with the New Orleans Saints, J.J. Watt has recorded nearly triple that number (26 sacks) with the Houston Texans. The only reason that number isn’t higher is because he missed a few games due to injury his rookie season.
The difference between the two is that the Houston Texans have been able to adapt their 3-4 defensive scheme to play to J.J. Watt’s specific abilities, to be disruptive in the running game and passing game. Jordan on the other hand has learned two different defenses in his first two years in the league. Not to mention he is now learning defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense going into his third year in the NFL.
The new defense with Ryan is an opportunity to exploit Jordan’s size, quickness, prior experience in the 3-4, and relentless motor to track down the ball carrier.
Watt’s success comes from being able to be a three technique tackle (lines up on outside shoulder of the guard, quick, able to penetrate the gap to rush the passer or control it to stuff the run) and a five technique end (lines up on outside shoulder of the tackle, needs intelligence to read the play, and relies on physical moves against the tackle to control the edge and make plays)
Jordan succeeded as a 5-technique end in college and in the NFL has proven his effectiveness in the 3 technique as a run stopper and pass rusher. He has also had success in the NFL at controlling the edge as a 5-technique end and making big plays in the backfield.
Watt definitely has the edge on Cam Jordan as far as his use of power moves to get to quarterback or squash the run. Jordan uses power sometimes but mostly relies on his finesse. Finesse is good but power gets you to the quarterback quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Jordan and Watt both demonstrate great explosion in their first and second moves. The only difference is that Watt is able to be more successful because 1) the offense line is tied up with other defensive players rushing in the Texans 3-4 defense and 2) Watt is able to use his raw power to penetrate through the gaps.
Watt also has the intelligence to read and react to the offensive line to figure out how he can make a play. This has led to his signature move that earned him the nickname J.J. “Swatt”. It’s even led to him intercepting balls at the line of scrimmage.
While Cam Jordan is not on Watt’s level, he has demonstrated in the past that he also has the ability to read and react to knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage. Once Jordan realizes that he can change a play without having to get to the quarterback he will truly be dangerous.
Rob Ryan’s 3-4 will increase Jordan’s opportunities to make game-changing plays and be a difference maker on the field. There are several elements of Jordan’s game that he needs to perfect to reach the J.J. Watt level, but the skills and abilities are there. Cam Jordan will definitely be breaking loose in the 2013 NFL season.
Do you agree? Disagree? Something I missed? Sound off in the comments below!!