Summer School 2021: Pass rush 101 — explaining the hump move

Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images

Reggie White made the move famous

There are several effective pass-rushing moves that NFL defenders have employed successfully. The path to the quarterback is chaotic; a defender can use speed and quickness to run around blockers. He can bull-rush to set up a secondary move, string several moves together, or use the most aesthetically and imposing pass rushing move — the hump move.

This move is a dominant one that forces doubt into opposing offensive blockers while potentially also converting speed to power – a staple in successful pass rushing. The move is most synonymous with former Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Reggie White.

This move is best employed when a pass rusher has been beating a tackle consistently with speed and quickness to the outside. The tackle is going to overcompensate to the outside and ensure that he can protect that part of the field.

This overcompensation, combined with excellent leverage, adept hand movement, strike timing, torque, and superior upper body strength, really enhances the hump move’s effectiveness and creates ample separation from the blocker, but it’s a difficult move to master.

The defensive lineman starts by attacking the outside hard while getting to the outside hip and selling an outside move like the rip/bend through contact. The defensive player has done two things by attacking hard outside with a strong outside move:

1). He gets the tackle’s momentum going outside, with unsettled footwork
2). He creates a wider gap between the guard and tackle, which allows for an inside move.

By the third step up the arc, the defensive player wants to pull the outside arm of the tackle downwards, while simultaneously coming across the body of the tackle with a hard inside arm hump move. By pulling the outside arm downward, the blocker’s momentum starts to come forward, creating more balance issues. The aiming point is underneath the tackle’s armpit and, ideally, the defensive player wants to use the meaty part of his forearm to toss the tackle off balance.

Once the defensive player makes contact with the hump part of the move, and if the tackle isn’t already on the ground, he wants to follow through with an outside arm over/slap down to ensure the tackle is done. It’s the Finish Him move. Leverage, core strength, and having the tackle fear the outside move is the key to an effective hump move. Cam Fleming (75) received a solid hump move from Khalil Mack (52) this past season.

This hump move is the second move that Mack goes to; he did originally want to stress the edge and Mack uses the chop, dip, rip well to turn the corner and bend through the contact of Fleming. Mack adjusts his plan, feels the high center of gravity of Fleming, gets that inside arm in position, and then uses Fleming’s momentum, combined with the strength of himself to toss Fleming to the ground. Jones can get rid of the pass, and Mack’s pass rush only embarrassed Fleming but had little impact. Watch what happens when the move is employed quickly and efficiently.

You can see Lawson (58) lined up wide of the tackle Kyle Murphy (68). Lawson attacks with speed up the arc, forcing Murphy to set vertically and square up to Lawson while his feet are still moving; Murphy fully extends both of his arms to initiate contact but he is not fully balanced and Lawson stabs him with his inside arm. Lawson has excellent bend throughout his entire body and his hips are significantly lower than Murphy’s, which allows Lawson to maximize his already excellent leverage.

Lawson then swats Murphy’s outside arm downward and starts to work back inside of the tackle. Lawson uses Murphy’s momentum against him while taking his stab arm and utilizing a hump move by attacking right underneath the inside armpit of Murphy. Lawson converted his initial stab-long arm move into this hump move inside. The strength of Lawson, combined with the unbalanced nature of Murphy, and his natural momentum, forces the tackle to tumble to the ground and results in a Carl Lawson sack.

This one’s similar to the Lawson hump move. Attack, utilize the positioning and momentum of the tackle against him, stay low, and go inside to separate. They’re not as flashy as White, but they’re still effective. Terrell Suggs (55) utilizes a strong upfield burst outside, with excellent forward lean and leverage to earn a strip-sack on Andy Dalton (14) in the second clip. Suggs gets the tackle to commit upfield and overcompensate for his speed, which provides him with an easier opportunity to work back inside and use his inside forearm to toss the tackle outside.

White had a knack for terrorizing opposing tackles with the hump move. He would get hip to hip so quickly, and tackles had to be wary about his strength and ability to win in a variety of other ways. The sheer strength used by White was incredible and he routinely tossed opposing linemen to the deck. His ability to sink his hips, explode through his hips in an upward motion, instilled fear into all of his opponents.

The hump move is a complex one. It requires power, positioning, timing, and the ability to cause fear in one’s opponent which may lead to said opponent putting themselves in a disadvantageous position. Reggie White was the best to do this, Howie Long also pulled it off well, as did J.J. Watt more recently. There are so many little nuances to rushing the passer; defenders have to beat highly-skilled 300+ pound lineman in such a short amount of time. This is one of the many reasons why sacks are such a paramount statistic. No one calculates, to my knowledge, stats and HOW players earned them; which moves were used, was it a protection breakdown, or was it off the pure skill of the pass rusher? There’s a lot of context to uncover. If pass rushers are winning with moves like the hump move, then it’s safe to say they’re probably more skilled than the average at rushing the passer.

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