Former All-Pro pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora couldn't help but applaud Adrian Clayborn when watching clips from Sunday's NFL games.
Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants who finished his career in Atlanta, watched the Falcons' defensive end sack Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott six times. It marked the first time a player recorded six sacks in a game since Umenyiora did the same against Philadelphia in 2007.
"Man, that was crazy," Umenyiora, now a sports television personality in London, said Monday regarding Clayborn's performance. "I know how difficult something like that is. Everything has to line up perfectly. Adrian's a good player. He's been a good player for a long time -- an underrated player. But everything lined up perfectly for him. And he took full advantage."
The Cowboys played without All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who was sidelined by a groin injury. Clayborn made quick work of replacement Chaz Green as well as Byron Bell. In recalling his own six-sack performance, Umenyiora remembered benefiting from the Eagles playing without injured starting left tackle William Thomas. Philadelphia started unproven Winston Justice instead.
"Kind of like how Tyron Smith was hurt yesterday and they put in the backup, and it was just a feeding frenzy," Umenyiora said. "One thing I do remember is I had gotten to quarterbacks a lot more than that before, but none of them were sacks. Every time I got back there in that game, it was a sack.
"When I say everything has to line up for that to happen, the quarterback has to hold the ball, the coverage has to be right, and you have to execute your pass-rush moves. To get one sack in a game is an accomplishment. But for it to happen six times, it's cool."
Clayborn said he used one move, and it worked. Umenyiora noticed that move, which was the same cross chop he fine-tuned under former Falcons and pass-rush guru Chuck Smith near the end of his career. Clayborn has spent some offseason time with Smith.
Thank you sir for the pass rush wisdom and teaching me the good stuff! https://t.co/9UsKqhqTh2
— Adrian Clayborn (@AJaClay) November 13, 2017
"First off all, Clayborn's a physical player, and he's been that way since he got into the league," Umenyiora said. "Then he has the move, the chop-club, that he executes really, really well. The cross-chop is what most of the rushers know it as. It's a move where you come over the top with your left hand and then with your right, you kind of club. He got a couple sacks using that move -- maybe like three or four, from what I saw."
Umenyiora picked up the move in 2004 from James Hall, who recorded 63 career sacks with the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams (2000-2011).
"Then I started talking to Chuck Smith, and I got into the lab with Chuck Smith and I decided to add something different, which was the freeze," Umenyiora explained. "So instead of just going straight up the field, I'd step into the offensive tackle to make him stop his feet, then I would come with the chop-club.
"It was very effective move. And you see Clayborn using that exact same chop-club move now. He has a lot of technique to his game, also. He's not just physical. He's just a good player. I enjoy watching him play."