ITP Glossary: Cornering (Pass Rush)

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Cornering (Pass Rush)

Describes a pass rushers ability to carry his body low to the ground while running the arc at high speed. Elite cornering stems from unique athletic traits and flexion and can be most aptly viewed if a rusher can keep the bottom of their foot flat to the ground while running the arc.

There are a number of ways a pass rusher can get to and disrupt the quarterback. For those attacking the C Gap, it becomes important to win the edge. This can be done with a good burst off the ball and overall foot speed. You can clear the blocker’s hands, but for those who are of the elite caliber of edge rushers, they can ‘corner’.

The elite of the elite pass rushers have the flexion throughout the ankles and hips necessary to flatten their trajectory to the QB in an instant, working flat down the line to get to the quarterback once they are on the hip of the blocker. Coaches want the foot to remain flat and in contact with the ground as much as possible while cornering.

Renowned defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who helped design and implement the Wide 9 front with Jim Schwartz and others in Tennessee was a fanatic about identifying the ‘cornering’ skill in rushers, explaining that he could develop the polish technique from the raw tool as it was so hard to find. The was his common denominator among elite NFL edge rushers.

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Here, Von Miller (#50) uses a small stutter to stop the right tackle Mike Remmers’s (#74) feet before flattening and attacking the QB, resulting in a strip sack of Cam Newton (#1) and the first points in Super Bowl 50.

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On this second quarter play, Miller first attacks upfield with pure speed then corners when he gains the proper depth to attack the pocket, forcing Newton to step up into the pressure from the defensive line and throw the ball away.

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Dan Hatman wrote this entry. Follow Dan on Twitter @Dan_Hatman

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