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Film Review: What does Reggie Gilbert bring to the Titans?

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Before the 53 man roster cut down, the Titans traded a 2020 7th round pick for Packer’s OLB Reggie Gilbert. Gilbert was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Packers on their practice squad in 2016. In 2017, he signed to their practice squad again before being promoted to their active roster on December 22, 2017, where he has been ever since.


Stats and Context

Reggie Gilbert has been known to go off during the preseason for the Packers. In his 16 preseason games for them, he has had 10.5 sacks. However, he has struggled to carry this production over into the regular season. In 2017, he only played in two games, but was able to get 1 sack and 3 QB hits. In 2018 despite playing in 45.68% of the snaps (486 total snaps), Gilbert was only able to get 2.5 sacks, 4 TFL’s, and 8 QB hits. That is about .005 sacks and .016 QB hits per snap. Just for comparison sake, I have included a table of the same stats for the rest of our edge rushers.

Pass Rush Efficiency

Player Sacks Per Snap QB Hits Per Snap
Player Sacks Per Snap QB Hits Per Snap
Reggie Gilbert 0.005 0.016
Cameron Wake 0.012 0.033
Harold Landry 0.008 0.024
Sharif Finch 0.007 0.01
Kamalei Correa 0.011 0.016

As you can see by the numbers, Gilbert has been the least productive and efficient pass rusher on a snap to snap basis in this group. However, do not be too discouraged because the numbers do not always tell the whole story (but the film does). I still believe that Gilbert is a better overall player and pass rusher than Correa. Correa’s pass rush production has been dependent on scheming (twists and stunts), whereas most of Gilbert’s pass rush production has been him beating his man one on one. This is why it is important to watch film to make your assessment on players rather than just using statistics (shade intended).


Pass Rush

Moving into the film, there is a lot to like about Gilbert. At 6’3” 260 lbs, he is a bit bigger and stronger than the other edge rushers (other than Wake), but still has some solid athleticism. In his two seasons with the Packers, he has shown a lot of potential as a pass rusher.

In this first clip, watch how he extends his left arm to keep the LT away from his body and then he uses right arm to chop away the tackle’s hands. From there, Gilbert shows off some nice ankle flexibility to bend the corner and hit Trubisky.

Gilbert is consistently able to use his hands to help him bend the corner on his speed rush. I have tons of clips of him doing it. Again, he executes the same move against the Dolphins. Left arm to keep distance and right arm to chop away the hands.

Same move (#93 on the right side), but notice how the first chop is ineffective. This is no problem because he has his left arm extended. Therefore, he can just get a second chop in to get the tackle’s hands off of him.

I don’t know the technical term for this move, but let’s just call it a “long arm-chop speed rush”. This is definitely his favorite and most effective move. I might be overdoing it, but two more examples just for fun.

Gilbert also has many different variations of his speed rush where he effectively uses his hands to compliment his bend, other than the “long arm-chop speed rush” that I have shown above.

For example (#93 on the right) in this clip, Gilbert burst off the snap, chops down the RT’s hands, dip and rips under the tackle, and circles back to make the sack on Josh Allen. He clearly has a pass rush plan and does a great job of executing it.

Again another speed rush off the edge, but this time he takes a nice euro step to the outside while simultaneously swiping away the hands. He then circles back around for a near sack.

Another nice swipe and rip move.

And finally, a smooth chop and rip. As you can tell from all of the clips above, Gilbert has a solid bend. It may not be as nice as Harold Landry’s, but it is still effective and that is all that matters.

All of the clips above have been Gilbert going to the outside, but he can also counter back inside. Notice how on this swipe move to the inside (#93 on the right side), he has a slight hop. This is a technique that Aaron Donald uses a lot. Donald talks about it in his Top 100 players of 2019 video.

On this next clip, Gilbert shows great lateral quickness off the snap to get to the inside shoulder of Bear’s #75. I love his subtle head fake to the outside before he slides inside and forces a quick throw.

For some reason, Gilbert does not use his power moves nearly as much as his speed. I would love to see him use his bull rush more on the Titans to compliment Landry’s speed and bring some variety.

This specific bull rush below (#93 on the left side) is against Redskin’s LT Trent Williams, whom many claim to be a top-3 LT in the NFL. Gilbert gets nice hands inside William’s shoulders and drives him all the way back to the QB.

Another bull rush, but this time Gilbert is able to disengage from his block and forces Cousins to throw the ball away.

Reggie Gilbert has a nice variety of pass rush moves in his repertoire, but keep in mind I am showing the highlights of when his moves are effective. There are plenty of times when his pass rush plan is not effective. I’m not trying to portray Gilbert as Khalil Mack, but just trying to show his potential as a pass rusher. He may not have been productive on the Packers, but he has all the tools to become a more efficient pass rusher with the Titans.


Run Defense

Gilbert shows a lot more inconsistency in his run defense than his pass rush abilities. These next three clips are from the same game and exemplify his inconsistencies as a run defender.

In this first clip, it looks like he is responsible for filling the C gap on this run. The problem is that he overpursues to the inside and exposes his back to the blocker. Gilbert is then taken out of the play and allows Adrian Peterson to run through a big hole for a big gain.

In this next clip of the same game (#93 on the right side), Gilbert needs to set the edge on this run. Instead, he is pushed far too inside, giving Peterson a cut back lane and another big gain.

Finally in the last clip from this game, Gilbert does what he is supposed to. He gets to the outside shoulder of Jordan Reed on the block and then quickly disengages to make the tackle when Peterson cuts to the outside.

Another thing that I noticed is that Gilbert often fails to finish his plays, especially against shiftier running backs. He does a great job of using his lateral quickness to put himself in a position to tackle the running back for a loss, but he misses the tackle. Moving forward, I hope that he can finish these plays and reduce the missed tackles.


Pass Coverage

Watching Gilbert’s film, I was surprised in Reggie’s versatility and ability to drop back into coverage. This skill set lends in perfectly to the “switchability” of the Titan’s defense. This versatility allows the Titans to disguise their pass rush pre-snap. Gilbert isn’t going to be able to cover like Jayon Brown, but his coverage skills are sufficient enough to utilize in our defense.

In this first clip, Gilbert is tasked with covering the speedy Tarik Cohen. I was impressed with his ability to keep up with Cohen long enough for the pass rush to get to Trubisky. Granted he gets beat at the end, but the ball is already out by that point. You can’t ask anymore of Gilbert on this play.

This time Gilbert (#93 left side of video) drops back into zone coverage. He gives the TE a quick shove and then immediately comes back to look at the eyes of Tom Brady. As soon as the ball leaves Brady’s hands, Gilbert breaks towards the ball and nearly breaks up the pass. He shows a nice ability to quickly read and react to throws in pass coverage.


Conclusion

Obviously, Reggie Gilbert is not going to be a game-changing addition to the team, but he is a great depth piece to our edge rushing group. On the WKRN telecast, Jon Robinson stated that he had his eyes on Gilbert for a while and how this is a great depth move. Robinson missed on a similar move last year trading a 6th round pick for Kamalei Correa, but I think the second time around will be much better. With the injury to D’Andre Walker and the disappointing development of Kamalei Correa, it was important for Robinson to find another edge rusher that could contribute this season. Once Reggie Gilbert is healthy, I expect him to be the 4th OLB over Correa and possibly even push Finch for that 3rd spot.