Dalvin Tomlinson: The Good, the Great and The Ugly

Gene Clemons

The 2019 season was another great one for defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. In his three-year career with the Giants, he has averaged over 50 tackles per season. He is a reliable tackler and explosive in the middle of a run defense.

Against the run, there is no doubt that Tomlinson is a problem for offensive lines, especially centers, but despite his career-high 3.5 sacks last season, he is still not as adept at rushing the passer.

Here we will take a look at what makes him special on defense and something he still needs to try to improve.

The Good: Tomlinson is a handful for centers 

In this first clip, we see Tomlinson aligned in a shade over the center. On the snap of the ball, he uses his right arm to extend and control the center pushing him back into the backfield and reestablish the line of scrimmage. 

He then sheds the block and makes the tackle for a loss on running back who has nowhere else to go.

The above clip shows how Tomlinson can simply overpower a center. He is again lined up in a shade on the center for the Bears. The center does a good job of holding the line of scrimmage, but Tomlinson is able to buckle the legs of the center, making him ineffective. 

That allows Tomlinson to pursue the back in the backfield. He probably would have made the tackle if he was not collected by a teammate who was dominating as well. Instead, a teammate is able to collect a stat from the efforts of the interior linemen.

This third clip (above) in this series shows Tomlinson's ability to confuse centers. After badgering the Lions center, he is able to set him up with a move where he fakes right and goes left, leading to a completely vulnerable quarterback.

Even though the quarterback tries to escape, he is corralled and dragged down by Tomlinson with one arm.

The Great: Tomlinson is great against double teams.

In this first clip, Tomlinson is lined up in a 3-technique, over the left guard for the Dolphins. The tackle and guard double team him, but he is able to hold his ground. 

His ability to not allow them to change the line of scrimmage means that the running break needs to go wider on his path than the player originally believes he will need to. 

The results are defenders waiting for him, and because of his hesitance, he eventually ends up in the arms of Tomlinson for a tackle for loss.

In this next clip, Tomlinson is lined up over the center, a position he tends to dominate, and he is double-teamed by the center and the left guard for the Detroit Lions. He is able to hold the line of scrimmage and split the block. 

He ultimately makes the play on the running back for a limited gain. His ability to be stout at the point of attack helps the defense converge on the ball carrier.

In this third clip, Tomlinson is lined up in a 3-technique vs. Washington's left guard. The guard and tackle double team him. He is able to keep leverage against both blockers.

He is able to defeat the double team y splitting the two blockers in the backfield and tackle the running back for a negative gain.

This type of dominance has a positive influence over the immediate play and the psyche of the players involved.

The Ugly: Tomlinson needs to be better at transitioning from run defense to pass rush.

Tomlinson is lined up in a shade on the left side of the Chicago Bears center, a position he has dominated. On the snap, he attacks that side of the center and is handled easily by the center. 

He never seems to put up much of a fight from there, and the ball is released without much of a consideration for the pressure coming from the middle. The elite interior pass rushers always have offensive coordinators concerned about what could be happening in the interior.

This next clip has Tomlinson again line up as a shade to the center. You can tell at the snap that he's bracing to defend the run. 

When he realizes that it is a pass, he never changes his momentum and detaches from the center, he holds his position. It is times like these that you have to become a disruptor and try to get into the QB's eye line and cause an errant throw.

This was a play that Tomlinson was trying to communicate with teammates. He was shaded over the center and looking left to right trying to talk to his team, but he was not prepared at the snap.

Even though this was a quick throw and he was unlikely to get a sack, he wasn't able to apply any pressure to this throw. You should never be caught unprepared for the snap at noseguard.

Final Thoughts

Tomlinson has proven to be a valuable member of the Giants defense, and at 26 he still has great days ahead. The Giants have enough depth and flexibility that he will find himself on the field primarily on run downs.

So the thing that he needs to improve on, he probably won't get many chances to show improvement. What he does well, he does incredibly well. He will be a crucial contributor to a vastly improved defense this season. 

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