The stand out performer from last night's preseason victory over the Steelers was Barry Cofield. He set the tone from the nose tackle position early and often for the defense and dominated three-time pro-bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in the trenches. One of the knocks on Cofield during his time with the Redskins has been his run defense, but he improved significantly against the Steelers from what we saw last year.
The Steelers are attempting to establish the run game early on. Cofield comes off the snap quickly and holds his position at the line of scrimmage.
Cofield moves with the direction of the play, but maintains his position along the line of scrimmage, not getting pushed back. He watches the running back to see if he decides to cut back or carry on with the run to the right.
Once the back decides to continue on his path with the run, Cofield pushes past Pouncey and meets the runner behind the line of scrimmage for a loss on the play.
In the second quarter, Cofield set himself up in a similar situaion.
He pushes Pouncey back behind the line of scrimmage and is able to go either direction based on the running back.
With Cofield in position to make the play on the original path of the run, the back is forced to cut back inside into the rest of the defense and is tackled as he gets back to the line of scrimmage.
These are key improvements to Cofield's game that will make him a much more effective nose tackle and significantly improve the Redskins run defense. But he also appeared to improve his pass rush as well. He showed off his swim move on multiple occasions with great effect.
Here Cofield is lined up over Pouncey. He's going to attack the A gap between Pouncey and the left guard.
Cofield uses a good club move to bat down Pouncey's hands and keep them off him.
He then uses the swim move, pulling his arm over the shoulder of Pouncey and using that arm as leverage to get past Pouncey.
Pouncey attempts to grab anything he can and hold Cofield back, but Cofield breaks free and chases down Ben Roethlisberger, eventually getting the sack with a bit of help from his teammates.
Cofield attacks the A gap again, but this time between the center and the right guard.
Just like on the last play, Cofield uses his arm as a club to hit DeCastro's hands away.
Cofield's left arm comes up over the top of DeCastro's shoulder as he gets his hips level with those of DeCastro.
Pouncey is forced to come over and help out his teammate, but Cofield still forces pressure on Roethlisberger to rush his throw to the running back. The rest, was down to Ryan Kerrigan.
He continued to dominate Pouncey throughout the first half, even when the results didn't show on the stat sheet. He once again used that swim move to flush Roethlisberger out of the pocket.
The swim move gets him past Pouncey again, who got exploited time and time again with the same move.
With Cofield free in the backfield again, Roethlisberger is forced to scramble and takes off running up the middle.
Unfortunately this was the play that Cofield hurt his hand. But everyone sounded optimistic after the game that Cofield wouldn't miss any time. If he can play to this level with the injury remains to be seen. But if he can, the Redskins defense will be a big challenge to play against this season. This 3-4 scheme revolves around the play of the nose tackle. If this is what we can expect every week from Cofield, guys like Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Stephan Bowen and Brandon Jenkins are going to be a real handful for offenses to block.