Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn entered yesterday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys with 22.5 career sacks. He finished the game with 28.5.
Clayborn recorded an astonishing six sacks in the game. He also totaled six additional QB hurries and two forced fumbles. It was the most dominant performance by a defensive player in recent memory, and it helped the Falcons rout the Cowboys 27-7. “I only have one move and it worked,” Clayborn told MyAJC.com after the game. “You always envision (a game like this).”
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Clayborn’s signature pass-rush move is the cross chop. It’s an incredibly simple move at first glance, but one that can be devilishly effective if performed correctly. Chuck Smith, a former NFL sack artist who now trains many of the league’s top pass rushers, has spent several years helping Clayborn refine the move for maximum effectiveness. A recent article on Smith described the cross chop as a “move of power that attacks the offensive lineman’s forearm with a strong, downward chop of the arm.”
Clayborn’s cross chop typically consists of him using his inside arm to violently knock the blocker’s outside forearm down and away. This allows Clayborn to keep his outside arm free, which gives him phenomenal leverage. The cross chop can then be followed with a club and rip to create additional separation. With Dallas Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith out for the game due to injury, the Cowboys back-ups had no answer for Clayborn’s wicked cross chop:
Clayborn’s six-sack performance was years in the making. Check out this 2015 video of him working on his cross chop technique under the guidance of Smith:
Earlier this year, Smith predicted Clayborn might be in for a big season. “Adrian has great skill, and will have close to 10 sacks if he gets the reps, the Cross Chop move is hard to stop,” Smith tweeted on Sept. 28.
Considering Clayborn already has eight sacks with seven games left to play (his previous season-high was 7.5), a double-digit sack total certainly looks attainable.