The Indianapolis Colts have improved to 5-2 on the year after an ugly win against the Denver Broncos. While the team underperformed on the whole, there were a few notable standouts in the win. Rookie defensive end Ben Banogu was one of those standouts. Banogu logged a career-high 36 snaps (49% of defensive snaps) while recording one sack (another sack was waived off due to a penalty), a forced fumble, and a pass deflection on the day. While this wasn’t necessarily a breakout game for the rookie, this was a great start for the young pass rusher.
Filling the Kemoko Turay role in the defensive scheme, Banogu had a solid game on the stat sheet. How did he perform on film, though? Today, we will look at the positives of this young pass rusher’s game and where he can stand to improve a bit going forward.
The first clip in today’s film room was Banogu’s best rush of the day. Lining up in a wide nine technique, he is able to explode off the line of scrimmage and get downhill to the offensive tackle quickly. Notice the explosiveness out of his stance as he gets into the backfield. He is able to beat the tackle to the outside before ripping under the tackle’s arms and turning the corner for the sack. While this play didn’t count as there was a defensive hold on the play, this shows all of Banogu’s potential in one rush. Explosiveness off the line, quick hands, and dip around the edge for the sack. Great rush by the young defender.
Next rush isn’t perfect, but it showcases some good traits. Again lined up in the wide nine technique, Banogu is able to explode out of his stance. He jabs to the inside of the tackle and forces the tackle to show his hands. Banogu then is able to quickly swat the hands away and keep his balance to the outside. The tackle is able to recover well, however, and push Banogu’s angle a bit too far to the outside, but this is a good process by him. He shows quick hands, explosiveness out of his stance, and good technique. He just needs to bend the edge or counter back inside to finish the rush. Good hands on this rush, though.
On this next clip, we yet again see Banogu lined up in the wide nine technique (notice a trend?). I know I keep mentioning his explosiveness, but look how quickly he gets downhill. No matter how raw he is or how much he needs to work on, he will always have an edge as a pass rusher due to that quick first step and explosiveness. He makes his way to the tackle and quickly swats the hands away. He would have finished this rush if he had dipped his shoulder around the edge. However, the process yet again is good. He is excelling in his first step and hand usage early in his rushes. The last piece in the puzzle is building upon that and finishing his rushes. I think his true breakout game could come fairly soon if he is able to put the finishing touches on his rushes.
This next clip just showcases great hard work and effort to make an outstanding play. Banogu breaks inside on the stunt and is able to get his job done. He takes away both the tackle and the guard while giving a free rush to defensive tackle Grover Stewart. While he is being double teamed on the inside, he continues to fight up field to the quarterback. As Joe Flacco begins to throw, Banogu does a great job of getting his hands up and into the passing lane. He is able to knock the ball away at the line of scrimmage and keep the Broncos’ offense behind the sticks.
While Banogu is a finesse and athletic edge rusher, he is also a grinder on the outside. Here, he fights through the chip block of tight end Noah Fant before getting into the backfield. He then swats the right tackle’s hands away quickly and engages in some hand fighting with him on the outside. As the pressure begins to cave in on Flacco, Banogu shoots upfield to join in on the action. It’s not a perfect rush by any means, but he fights through multiple blockers to get into the backfield and get the pressure on the quarterback.
On the final play of the afternoon, Banogu calls game. He explodes out of his stance and flies into the backfield quickly. He keeps his head up and recognizes Flacco stepping up in the pocket and scrambling to the outside. He comes back down the line and is able to hit the quarterback from behind for the sack. He is able to knock the ball free on the play as well, as he gets his first career forced fumble. While it wasn’t an elite rush, the awareness and closing speed on this play lead to the highlight reel sack that ended the game with a win for the Colts.
While it wasn’t a perfect game from Banogu, this was his best overall game as a pro. He consistently showed quick hands, an explosive first step, and the ability to work through opposing blocks throughout the game. The highlights were great, even the first sack that didn’t count due to a penalty really showcased his skill set.
The main reason why I wouldn’t call this game his breakout is because he is capable of much more. By that I mean there were many plays where he was one or two steps away from another pressure or sack. His process is right but he is just missing that last step of his rush to make an impact play. Once he refines his technique and finishes his rushes, he will have his true breakout game. Right now, though, this is an excellent showing from the young pass rusher filling in for the injured Kemoko Turay. This should be a great sign of things to come from the rookie.