Today's subject is Garrett McIntyre and, after the jump, you'll see a couple of clips that illustrate what he's capable of against the run, in coverage and as a pass rusher.
Note: if the animated images take a long time to load, then you can click on each one separately to load them one at a time.
First we see him contributing as a pass rusher. Although he is unable to break through the line, McIntyre keeps his head up and pushes the offensive lineman back at the perfect moment so he can free his right arm to deflect the pass.
Setting the edge is something McIntyre could earn himself playing time by doing a good job of during the 2013 season. This isn't the kind of play that gets noticed, but you'll note that he drives the tight end back, which forces the run back inside. He also sheds the block to get in on the tackle. If the tight end had managed to drive McIntyre back, the runner would easily have been able to turn the corner and probably would have scored, so he has to at least hold his ground there to stretch the run outside. However, by driving the tight end back, he blew the play up. Pay attention to how he keeps his pad level low at the point of contact to gain the leverage advantage. This was not the only example of McIntyre doing this I was able to find.
If he's going to get reps on the strong side, McIntyre (unlike Quinton Coples, who will be playing on the weakside) should get some coverage assignments. Here he drops into coverage, reads the play and makes a good open field tackle in a preseason game against the Eagles. He made a similar play earlier in the game too and got plenty of reps covering in the slot.
Here's the difference between preseason and the regular season though. McIntyre drops into coverage and lets Will Johnson leak out into the flat, then compounds the error by getting in Kyle Wilson's way. Johnson would run for a 25-yard gain down the sideline. Notice how Ben Roethlisberger exploits McIntyre's inexperience by freezing him with a pump fake. I'm sure Roethlisberger had already noticed that McIntyre and Harris had to communicate their assignments just before the ball was being snapped.
We don't want to end on a downer though and McIntyre atoned for his error a few plays later. Notice how his initial move is to the inside rather than up the field. He blows up a double team, allowing both Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples to stunt around him and leave Roethlisberger with no way of escaping to his right. McIntyre, having put Pro Bowl
safety center Maurkice Pouncey on his backside, is then able to drive upfield and sack Roethlisberger before he can escape. Again, this was not the only time I saw him put a lineman on his back and pressure up the middle.
I've always liked McIntyre and definitely see him as a player who can contribute at the NFL level. He works hard and plays relentlessly which is always going to mean he'll make impact plays here and there. Even if not in pole position to earn a key role, he has value because he's a key special teams contributor and has versatility.
McIntyre is not a player that makes many bad mistakes, but he seems to lack ideal speed and strength which so far has meant he hasn't been very productive in terms of generating pressure. He has been pretty productive over the last two preseasons (2.5 sacks, three hits, 10 pressures in eight games) but less so in regular season action (3.5 sacks, two hits and seven pressures in 179 pass rush attempts over 22 games on defense). That's a sure sign that he's capable of beating more athletically limited backup level players, but would struggle to contribute consistent pressure if thrust into a more regular role. Having said that, his teammates rewarded him for his work in the weight room during the offseason, so maybe he will enter the preseason more physically equipped to compete.
Although he hasn't been around very long, McIntyre will be 29 in November, so he probably doesn't have the same kind of upside as the 26-year old Ricky Sapp or Coples himself. He's a month younger than Antwan Barnes, who he will also be battling with for time. Although the media seems to have penciled Calvin Pace in as the starter, those three provide a more than adequate challenge for Pace and we shouldn't rule out McIntyre from being in the mix.