Defensive ends can beat Lions’ Penei Sewell through the inside B gap.
I have been Lions’ offensive tackle Penei Sewell’s loudest critic in America since before the draft. Prior to Detroit selecting him I said he was the best offensive guard available.
The Lions took Sewell with their seventh pick overall and moved him to right tackle, where he continued to struggle because of his footwork and handwork. These are the reasons in my pre-draft scouting report I projected him to guard in the NFL. His struggles for Detroit in the preseason were no surprise to me, which is why I came out with another scouting report article on Sept 6. saying Sewell is a bust.
Lions’ starting left tackle Taylor Decker got injured and the team decided to move Sewell back to left tackle (where he played in college) in his place of Decker, and started him there against San Francisco where he was said to have played a really good game.
Everyone and their brother – – even 49ers’ defensive end Nick Bosa sang Sewell’s praises and I came under fire on social media.
I know enough to go back and watch the game film on NFL Game Pass and I wanted to see for myself how he really played. That is when I saw clearly how defensive ends can beat Sewell at left tackle – – attack him through the B gap. That is what the gap is called on the Sewell’s inside shoulder, when he lines up at left tackle along the offensive line.
I counted (and am documenting with proof from the game film) six different times Sewell opened up the inside gap and gave up either pressure on the quarterback (five times resulting in two incompletions) or the defensive end blew up a running play by shooting the inside B gap (one time resulting in a loss of yardage).
Sewell has continued to show a problem with his footwork, which showed up also on game film in college at Oregon and again in the preseason for Detroit.
Yes, Sewell looked good on a majority of snaps, but I said in my last article I projected he will give up 1-3 sacks per game and NFL defensive ends still have a good chance at obtaining that number of sacks by challenging Sewell hard to the inside where he gets turned and “opens the gate.”
If NFL defensive ends simply either challenge him hard to the inside or set up Sewell by starting up-field to the outside, and then coming back hard to the inside they will find success and get to the quarterback.
Despite Sewell’s opening day game – – the film does not lie. There is a way to get Sewell and beat him despite his big body presence and physical strength.
Attack him through the inside B gap and watch him play like a bust. Sewell also showed (on film against SF) he may vulnerable as well on stunts and games, which also surrendered pressure.
NFL defensive coordinators and defensive ends alike now have the road map how to get to the quarterback against Sewell.
Attack – – Attack – – Attack Sewell through the inside B gap and eventually Detroit will have to move him to guard. I continue to maintain Sewell’s footwork is not what it needs to be – – because the difference between him giving up 1-3 sacks a game as I projected and him giving up pressures or hurries instead is… one Mississippi.
The way to get Sewell is to expose his footwork – – especially through the inside B gap.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.