In the second quarter last Sunday, Redskins NT Barry Cofield deflected a pass that fell gently into the waiting arms of London Fletcher for an easy interception, giving the Redskins a short field. Five plays later, the Redskins would score, taking a 13-7 lead and control of the game. Batted passes are a very overlooked statistic. They end drives and can lead to interceptions if you get the right deflection.
“That was my JJ Watt impersonation,” said Cofield after the game, who was referring to the Houston Texans phenom who has made an art of the batted pass. Cofield, however, is no stranger to the batted pass himself. According to ProFootballFocus.com, it was his 4th of the year, a total that is just second to Ryan Kerrigan (five) for the team lead in that department. In 2011, Cofield led the team with seven batted passes, which was also the most among all defensive tackles in the NFL. “I feel like whenever I’m able to disrupt the quarterback,” Cofield said, “if I can get a fingertip on (the ball), more times than not (the secondary) is going to be able to make a play.”
While Cofield’s batted pass led to a turnover, it was not his most impressive play of the day. At the end of the second quarter, the Eagles set up a screen to the right side and got the ball in the hands of WR Jeremy Maclin. Here’s Cofield’s positioning at the snap:
At the snap, the Eagles don’t block Cofield, allowing him a free run at the QB. If nobody blocks you, something is usually up, and Cofield doesn’t take the bait. He instead reads QB Nick Foles’ eyes:
Foles delivers the pass to the right, and Cofield is in a good position to be able to hustle over and make a play:
OK, here’s the impressive part. Look at the distance between Cofield and Maclin as Maclin hauls in the pass:
Maclin has good blocking in front of him, but Cofield is bearing down from behind like a freight train:
And he buries Maclin before Maclin can get to full speed:
That is highly impressive athleticism for a guy that is listed at around 320 pounds.
If you look at the reverse “All 22” angle and take Cofield out of the picture, the Eagles potentially had a big play set up here, which Cofield ruined:
“I just felt the (movement of) the (offensive) linemen, and we’ve been harping on that all week,” Cofield said. “They’re a great screen team, so once I saw (Maclin) in the open field, I just had to bust my butt and get out there. It wasn’t until after the play that I saw that he had a lot of room to run if I didn’t make that play, so it was a big play… That’s a ‘playoffs on the line’ kind of play.”
“Those are the plays that as a leader you have to make. When you lead by example, when you make that type of effort, I feel like everyone feels the burden to do the same. Those are the types of plays that excite me. I love to chase down a guy that fast. I look faster than I am when I’m running a guy down like that.”