Sheldon Richardson added a third consecutive week of impressive preseason play on Sunday. That’s good news for both the Jets and him personally as he looks to be in top form entering a contract year. Richardson is really raising his value in the market either by trade for the Jets or in free agency. We all know there are few things more terrifying for opponents than a motivated and focused Sheldon Richardson. Let’s take a look at how he has dominated so far against the run and pass respectively.
Against The Run
What sets Richardson apart is his athleticism. But don’t overlook his strength. That’s what makes him a force against the run. He might be fighting two great players in Mo Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams for playing time on early downs but he has looked as good, if not better, at times against the run.
In this play against the Lions, Sheldon is lined up as a one technique to the right of the center. He gets penetration with a swim move as the center struggles to try and wash him out of the play. After the ball carrier runs by, Richardson is nimble enough to plant his feet and work back to make the tackle.
Later, in the same game, Richardson is lined up over the right guard. At the snap it looks like a called slant for him into the A-gap. He gets good penetration into the backfield, disrupts the play by forcing the ball carrier to redirect, and even gets in on the tackle.
In this play, against the Giants, Richardson is lined up between the right guard and the center. He’s not a nose tackle but he’s strong. He takes on a double team well here, keeping the offensive lineman off the inside linebackers, and plugging up any running lanes up the middle.
This is probably the bread and butter for Sheldon Richardson this season if Mo Wilkerson and Leonard Williams are considered preferred in terms of playing time. Richardson is the best pass rusher on the team. He didn’t consistently show his amazing technical ability in pass rush last season. However, so far in preseason he has shown encouraging improvement in the variety of his moves and the consistent pressure he’s able to put on the quarterback.
Here, in this play against the Titans, Richardson shows great skill against the Titans’ right guard. He creates space by shedding the guard’s hands at first engagement. Then he sets up the guard with a jab to the inside before ripping back to the outside and flushing Mariota out of the pocket. He doesn’t get a sack here but once again he disrupts the play.
In the same game, here Richardson just goes with a straight bull rush and obliterates the left guard into the backfield before getting a hit on Mariota after the throw.
Now, against the Lions, Richardson is just showing off. He lines up over the center and at the snap, with quick and violent hands, he slaps the centers hands away, shoves aside the right guard, and then swims past the center to put pressure on the quarterback and almost cause an interception.
In the same game, Richardson is lined up on the right guard. At the snap he blows past him with a swim move and leaves only the RB between him and the quarterback. Unfortunately, it was a quick read play and the quarterback got the pass off before he could get any further.
Against the Giants, in this play, Richardson is lined up outside the left tackle on the edge. He tries to press the left tackle into the backfield at first, then tries to rip inside. Richardson quickly realizes that won’t work and counters with a body toss. He doesn’t quite get there but showed a nice series of moves here, keeping his opponent off balance.
Later against the Giants, Sheldon lined up over the right guard. He starts with a straight rush and a shove, the guard loses his balance somehow. Richardson blows by him to put pressure on Eli Manning and force him into an interception.
Here the Giants put Eli Manning in a rollout. Richardson, lined up over the right guard, recognized the reach step immediately, fought outside and into the backfield to force Eli Manning to throw it away.
Finally, this play deserves some coaching praise as well. Richardson lines up between the center and the left guard. At the snap he runs a stunt with the OLB looping from where he was to outside the right tackle. Then he showed awesome athleticism bending past the the right tackle to chase down the quarterback for a sack. Credit to the Jets coaching staff knowing he’s the perfect player for that stunt.
When Richardson is on like he’s shown, he can be the best player on the field. So far, in the preseason, he has shown an improved pass rush arsenal and hand technique as well as the same incredible athleticism he’s always had. It’ll be interesting to see if Richardson can take this run of dominance into the regular season and if that starts to attract attention not just in the Jets locker room but around the league.