I don’t want to get into specifics of it, but by me being here as long as I have, I’ve kind of been able to experience multiple things that we’ve done as a defense,” Ninkovich said. “With anything that we do, I’m pretty experienced with being able to play linebacker or play [defensive] end. It’s something that I’ve done in the past and it’s good to just have some experience at both of those positions.
A lot of teams don’t really have as much responsibility as far as (their ends) just getting off on the ball; they just want them to get off, get off, get off. For me, I can’t do that because it messes up how our team plays on defense. So my job really is to force the quarterback to make a decision early by getting pressure on him, but not running behind him. That’s one big thing that’s always told to me: never be behind the quarterback, that’s the worst place for a D-lineman to be. “So my approach is to start early in the game with some bull-rushes just to kind of set him up so they short set me, and then work an inside move to come down even more, and then get outside on him. If you watch any of my games, the first parts of the game, I’m usually more power rushes. And as the offensive line adjusts to how I’m doing that, then I will start working the edges a little bit more.
The New England Patriots have made great efforts to revamp their defense in recent seasons but one player who has stuck around quietly doing his job is Rob Ninkovich and he popped up against the Dolphins with a big game as a pass rusher, profiting from favorable matchups and unblocked opportunities to make a mark in this game. Ninkovich registered a season-high nine total pressures (one sack, two hits, six hurries) to take his season total through eight games to 36, only six short of his total for the entirety of last year’s regular season. He added to his fine display with a pair of batted passes (one of which was nullified by a delay of game penalty) and a trio of tackles (one of them a stop). He even notched up a missed tackle to register a stat in every column of our defensive stats page for this game. We have seen much better from Ninkovich as a run defender this season but this was the most productive we have seen Ninkovich as a pass rusher this season and comfortably the most effective more importantly.
Breakdown of a Ninkovich Pressure
Ninkovich gets his own cupcake
Welp, I can cross off “Getting on Sportscenter” off the old bucket list….
Didn’t take Ninkovich long to reinforce to the Patriots that he was worth his recent three-year contract extension, as his 4.0 pressure points against the Falcons were nearly as much as his first three games combined (5.6). Ninkovich didn’t have a sack against the Falcons, but his eight hurries were tied for a league high with Hali. None was bigger than the hurry he notched with 9:43 left in the game—not that you would have known it from the television broadcast. Ninkovich dipped inside right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and quickly got in the face of Matt Ryan. Ninkovich’s presence sped up the throw from Ryan to Roddy White and caused an underthrow that was intercepted by cornerback Aqib Talib. Not that viewers were told that. The only thing they heard about was Talib’s pick.