The Giants sent their fourth round compensatory pick and sixth-round pick to the Rams in exchange for Ogletree and the Rams’ 2019 seventh-round pick. The move has upside for both teams, with the Giants potentially getting a young starter at a position of dire need, while the Rams shed his unwieldy contract
We will have months yet to parse out the potential impacts of this trade, which could extend into the 2018 NFL Draft. But for now, let’s take a quick look at what Ogletree brings to the Giants against the other teams in the NFC East.
Situation - 1st quarter, 12:07, WAS 21
Our first play sees Ogletree just off the line of scrimmage, lined up across from TE Vernon Davis.
The offense is lined up in a 12 (two tight end) personnel set, with both tight ends attached to the offensive line, effectively giving them a seven-man line. Washington throws a wrinkle at the Rams with their alignment, putting both offensive tackles on the left side, while Davis plays the right tackle and Jordan Reed (86) is lined up as an in-line tight end next to Davis. The alignment is obviously meant to create confusion and disguise the offense’s intention.
The Redskins obviously showing a power-run look, and that is what they deliver with an inside zone hand-off.
Ogletree takes on Davis’ block well, gaining inside leverage with his hands and controlling the block and forcing the run through the right B gap. Fellow linebacker Mark Barron comes up to fill the gap, and at this point the play should be a routine, fundamentally sound stop for little gain. However, Barron misses the tackle and RB Rob Kelley is able to get past the line of scrimmage.
Rather than being focused on his blocker, Ogletree keeps his eyes in the backfield (his helmet obviously tracking Kelley), and immediately sheds the block to make the tackle and limit the play to a 4-yard gain.
Ogletree isn’t without his issues tackling (we’ll be getting to those next), but this play shows good, sound fundamentals, which is reasuring to see. While Ogletree is forced to make the play himself, he first occupies the blocker to allow his teammate to make the play. It shows a commitment to disciplined “team defense.”
Situation - 2nd Quarter, 14:15, LA 10
Moving ahead a couple weeks, we see the Rams playing the Dallas Cowboys, and a play that shows both Ogletree’s strengths and weaknesses as a linebacker. Though this is a pass play, we can treat it as an extension of the running game.
Dallas is in an “11” (3-receiver) set, with all three receivers on the offensive right (out of screen in the above gif). Their purpose is to force the defense to concentrate on that side of the field and pull coverage away from the offensive left.
On that side, TE Jason Witten runs a seam route, drawing a double-team from the free safety and the inside linebacker. This leaves Ogletree on an island in man coverage of Ezekiel Elliott, who runs a wheel route to take advantage of the vacated side of the field.
Ogletree reads the play correctly, never waivers from his assignment on Elliott, and even shows off solid range and athleticism in getting to the sideline despite having to run around Witten, who acts like a screen blocker without coming close to drawing a penalty.
But this is where things start to go wrong for Ogletree.
It’s difficult to see outside of slow-motion, but as he closes on Elliott, he alters his angle and takes a more aggressive approach, trusting his legs to get him there in time to limit the play to a 5-yard gain. Had he not been slowed by Witten, it might have worked. However, his angle turns out to be overly aggressive, he arrives a hair too late, and Elliott avoids the launching Ogletree en route to scoring the touchdown.
Ogletree has repeatedly ben cited for missed tackles, and this is part of the reason. The Cowboys should be credited for good play design and execution, but if Ogletree had stuck to his original angle and concentrated on form tackling, the play could have been limited to a 6-yard gain instead of a touchdown.
Situation - 2nd quarter, 1st and 10, PHI 16 (1:49)
Spinning ahead once again we find ourselves in Week 14, with the Rams taking on the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles line up in an “11” personnel grouping, with tight end Zach Ertz detached from the line of scrimmage. The Rams appear to be in a zone coverage scheme, with Ogletree showing blitz and the corner over WR Alshon Jeffery appearing to be in a soft zone. Given how close they are to the Eagles’ end zone, this is a good time for the defense to be aggressive. The Eagles simply want to get themselves some more breathing room and momentum for their drive.
Based on what the Rams show, the Eagles appear to run a variation on a simple smash concept on the right side.
A “Smash Concept” is a “high - low” read in which the offense sends two receivers into a zone and the quarterback throws to whichever one the defender responsible for that zone doesn’t cover. In this case, Jeffery’s post route is the “high” read, while RB Corey Clement’s flat route is the “low” route.
However, instead of zone coverage, Ogletree is in man coverage on Clements, taking the low read away. With the ball needing to come out fast, Wentz tries to fit it in to a collapsing window to Jeffery, and the pass falls incomplete.
Ogletree’s athleticism and ability as a blitzer allow the Rams to successfully disguise their defense, giving the Eagles a look they have to respect. Furthermore, the linebacker is able to stick with Clements in coverage, taking that option away immediately.
Play 2 (blitz)
Situation - 1st quarter, 3rd and 7, DAL 34 (5:47)
The previous play showed what Ogletree’s reputation as a blitzer could do for disguising coverages, but here we get to see him turned loose on an opposing quarterback.
The Rams show heavy pressure, with a single high safety, and what appears to be man coverage across the board. To check, Dak Prescott brings Cole Beasley in motion, and he is indeed trailed by a defender, seemingly confirming man coverage.
At the line of scrimmage, they have two down linemen lined up at the 4i technique just across from the offensive tackles’ inside shoulders, both outside linebackers are lined up as “wide 9” rushers at the 9-technique outside of the tight end, and both inside linebackers are showing a double A-gap blitz up the middle. Just before the snap, a seventh potential blitzer walks up to the line of scrimmage to threaten the left C-gap between the left tackle and tight end.
After the snap, the linebacker lined up over the right A-gap drops into zone coverage and the DB who walked up into the C-gap follows Witten in man coverage. Ultimately, the Rams are running what looks to be a variation on a Fire Zone blitz.
Ogletree gets a fantastic jump off the snap, blowing past center Travis Fredrick. He is picked up by Elliott, who stayed in pass protection, but quickly gets off his block with a quick spin move.
Next to Ogletree, Aaron Donald simply overwhelms Jonathan Cooper with a rip move and manages to get a hand on Prescott, holding him in place long enough for Ogletree to get back to the pocket and bring the QB down.
This was a beautifully drawn up play by Wade Phillips, and well executed by the players. It should have been a drive killer, but offsetting penalties (holding by Cooper, illegal use of hands by CB Trumaine Johnson) caused the down to be replayed, ultimately resulting in the touchdown we looked at above.
What does Ogletree bring to the Giants? To begin, he is a starter in a unit that only had one under contract. But more specifically, he brings a level of athleticism which the Giants haven’t seen since Michael Boley and Jacquain Williams. Pro Football Focus isn’t a fan, and he does tend to miss too many tackles.
Part of that might be his aggression, but he also shows the kind of assignment discipline that a “multiple” and “blitz-happy” defense like the one James Bettcher is expected to run needs. Perhaps a change of scenery and the tutelage of Bettcher and former Eagles’ linebackers coach Bill McGovern will help his deficiencies.
He also bring s a talent for blitzing that could potentially spark a dormant Giants’ pass rush.
Will he be worth the price in both money and draft capital that the Giants paid for him? We won’t know until the games are played. However, he is a young, athletic, and experienced player who is an intriguing fit at a position of dire need.