After another slate filled with sacks, stops, and stuffs, let's break down the standout defensive linemen from Week 10:
It might be time to rename this award after Aaron Donald. You know someone is special when they finish with multiple sacks in a game and it feels normal, but that’s the point we've reached with Donald, the best defensive player on the planet (and it's not even close).
In the past, Donald has routinely made mincemeat out of the Seattle Seahawks' offensive line, and Sunday was no different, as he finished with four tackles, five quarterback hits, and 2.5 sacks.
Famed for his sublime footwork and array of pass-rush moves, Donald also has the ability to win with pure power and leverage. His first sack against Seattle is a great example:
Here, Donald's lined up with an outside shade over Seahawks left guard J.R. Sweezy. Once the ball is snapped, Donald subtly widens his angle before attacking Sweezy's centerline with an old-school bull rush.
At 6-foot-1, Donald has a natural leverage over offensive linemen, and it shows on this sack, as he's able to bully Sweezy into the backfield before yanking Russell Wilson down with just one hand. Donald's angle of attack also condenses the pocket and cuts off Wilson's ability to step up and avoid pressure.
Of course, Donald also showed off his array of pass-rush moves against Seattle. The play below might have been his most impressive rush of the game, even though he shared the sack with Ndamukong Suh:
Here, Donald, who's aligned with an outside shade over Sweezy, demonstrates his unique ability to sequence his pass-rush moves together. Donald's supposed to be running a stunt with the defensive end, but improvises to reach the quarterback.
After the ball is snapped, Donald immediately lands a two-hand swipe that knocks Sweezy's hands away. He's able to reach Sweezy's edge, but his rush lane gets condensed by Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown. However, as the defensive end looks to loop around, Donald spins back inside and gets in perfect position to make the sack.
Donald makes it look easy, but everything he’s doing is anything but. He's a generational talent, and we're lucky to witness his greatness every week.
His second was particularly impressive, as he beat two blockers on his way to the sack:
On this play, Mack's lined up in a two-point stance outside Lions tight end Levine Toilolo. Once the ball is snapped, he slides past Toilolo while disrupting his route. From there, Mack quickly regains his balance and makes contact with the left tackle using proper pad level and inside hand placement.
Because of that pad level and hand placement - along with raw power - Mack's able to run over the left tackle on his way to the sack (the left guard stepping on the left tackle's foot certainly helps, too).
Mack is one of the unique talents in the NFL who can still be an effective pass-rusher even when he’s getting chipped and double-teamed. The Mack Attack is back, and the NFL should be very afraid.
Here at the D-Line All-Stars headquarters, we're not afraid to highlight an excellent performance in a defeat. We care about the quality of snaps, not the final score. And with that, it’s time to feature Calais Campbell's dominant performance against the run on Sunday.
Again, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost in Week 10, but it wasn’t because of Campbell, who finished with five stops against the Indianapolis Colts, including two for loss. Campbell's size, length, strength, and effective hand techniques were too much for the Colts' offensive line. Here’s an example:
Here, Campbell's aligned head-up across from right tackle Braden Smith. After the ball is snapped, Campbell fires out of his stance with proper pad level and body and hand placement. This allows Campbell to quickly toss aside Smith as the running back receives the ball, and then make the tackle as the ball-carrier reaches the line of scrimmage.
It’s rare to see a 300-pound man make a tackle near the line of scrimmage from the backside of a run, as it typically happens when a defender is left unblocked. In this case, Campbell's ability to dominate at the point of attack allows him to go all the way from the backside B-gap to the front-side C-gap (four gaps away) to make the tackle.
The Jaguars have disappointed this season, but Campbell definitely hasn’t. His performance in Week 10 was just the latest example.
Even though Dee Ford and Justin Houston receive most of the attention, Chris Jones deserves credit as the third musketeer of dominance in Kansas City's front seven. Against the Arizona Cardinals, Jones was at his best, accumulating three tackles, three quarterback hits, and two sacks in a game where he constantly harassed rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.
Jones is a wonderful combination of size, quickness, and improving technique. On his last sack of the game, he demonstrated his quick feet, impressive conceptual understanding of how to rush the passer, and excellent timing with his hands:
On this play, Jones is aligned slightly outside left guard Mike Iupati. Once the ball is snapped, Jones doesn’t explode out of his stance, but instead attempts to draw out Iupati’s strike by stutter-stepping once he gets within range, exposing his chest for Iupati to grab.
Unfortunately for Iupati, Jones parries the strike with a perfectly timed club-rip move and then gets to his edge. From there, Jones bounces off the running back’s chip block and continues upfield to sack Josh Rosen, who'd just escaped Ford's grasp.
Not many interior defenders have the ability to set up and execute that sequence as fluidly as Jones did. Instead of attempting to barrel his way through blocks, he does an impressive job of setting up and executing timing-based moves, making him an extremely dangerous defender because he can still physically dominate at the point of attack at times. It’s just not his only option anymore.
The Chiefs' defense has struggled at points this season, but unlike a lot of bad units, it has a few extremely talented individuals who can make big plays at key moments. Jones is one of those players, and he has the ability to make life difficult for opposing offenses, which is all the high-scoring Chiefs need right now.
John Owning is a football writer at theScore. He has written for Bleacher Report and Football Insiders. He was also the lead NFL content editor at FanRag Sports. John provides analysis on the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and edits for The Quant Edge. Find him on Twitter @JohnOwning.