D-Line Getting A Big Push From Odrick

Posted Dec 27, 2012

Former first-round draft pick putting together a solid season.

Pro Bowl voters don’t take into account the dancing skills of players when voting, because if they did Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick would be near the top with his Pee Wee Herman sack dance.

But a quick look at the numbers Odrick has put together through 15 games illustrates just how quietly productive he has been. The 6-foot-5, 302-pound versatile lineman is second behind only Cameron Wake in sacks (5), quarterback hits (12) and tackles for loss (11) and though he is listed as a defensive end, Odrick has lined up inside as a tackle on both sides as well and is capable of lining up over the center.

“He can play every position on the line, literally,” said Wake, who was the only Dolphin named to the Pro Bowl yesterday. “It’s one of those situations where he’s like the universal blood donor with O-Type blood. He can do it all. He’s big enough and strong enough to take on another double team from the nose but he’s also quick enough and agile enough to be on the outside rushing as an end on these tackles. You don’t get that combination in a single bodily normally, so he’s an amazing football player.”

As much credit as Wake gives Odrick and the other defensive linemen for helping him reach the Pro Bowl and set a new career-high with 15 sacks, he gives his teammate the same amount of criticism for his signature celebration dance. He had no qualms with calling Odrick’s dance the “worst sack celebration I’ve every been around.”

Odrick is well aware of how his teammates and coaches feel about him and after going through the frustration of missing all but one quarter of one game of his rookie season he continues to set the bar high for himself. Last year in seven starts, Odrick registered six sacks, one forced fumble and had one interception that he returned 39 yards off of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He will face Brady again Sunday in Foxboro, Mass., at Gillette Stadium in the final game of the 2012 season, after which he will further reflect on his season.

“It seems that it’s snuck up on a lot of people and as long as I can keep sneaking up on people and keep surprising people then one day it won’t be a surprise anymore,” said Odrick, who also has 34 tackles (25 solo) and one pass breakup. “It’s satisfying but disheartening at the same time because I know I can do better. It’s a catch-22 in that I’m proud of myself but I’m also disappointed because obviously I didn’t play my rookie year because I was hurt and last year I finished with six so I still have a game left to match or surpass that. I know I can do better even though this is probably the best I’ve done since I’ve been here.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin can be counted among those who are not at all disappointed with what Odrick has done this season. Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby is five tackles shy of reaching 100 solo tackles for just the second time in his career and he credits Odrick and the other linemen up front eating up blockers with making that possible.

But Philbin, who does not often like to single out players, understands just how important Odrick has been to the success of the defense.

“The guy’s a good football player, he’s a good athlete and he’s been dependable, he’s been dependable and he’s been available out there on the football field,” he said. “I think he’s had a good year.”

Throw in the fact that Odrick, like everyone else on his side of the ball, had to learn an entirely new defense under defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and that only adds to how well he has performed. Last season he was lining up in a base 3-4 and now Miami is running a base 4-3.

As Odrick explained, not every defensive line is asked to occupy blockers as much as Miami’s, so when Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi or Jason Trusnik are running free they have him, Starks and Soliai to thank. He enjoys that aspect almost as much as the sacks.

“Obviously, guys that know play football and play football understand what it takes to stay on a block or eat up blockers for others or for the sake of the defense,” Odrick said. “We also try to make plays while we’re doing that and I think that’s a tribute to us because we’re asked to do a whole lot more than other people are asked to do. So when people talk about Pro Bowl this or Pro Bowl that, we know that we have Pro Bowl-caliber players in this locker room that may not make it to the Pro Bowl and we all know what caliber of a defense we are.”

Perhaps after Sundays game and one or two more sack dances by Odrick, more people will know about him.

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