I must come clean. I've always wanted Vince Wilfork to be a member of MY team. That day, albeit 13 years plus after the fact, finally came as the former Patriot signed a two year contract to become a Houston Texan.
From the first time I saw him at the University of Miami as a true freshman in 2001, I wanted him on my side. What couldn't he do? He could line up as a three technique in an even front. Bump him to a four or four i in under front. Play him over the nose in odd front. He was a defensive chameleon which was a significant reason why Bill Belichick said he was the best defensive lineman he ever coached.
Skeptics will wonder what does he have left. 33 years old. Uh, big...big boned, yeah, that's it.
Whatever. Keep on being skeptical because if the Texans get the Wilfork that I studied during the 2014 playoffs, they got a bargain.
Although Wilfork is still fairly active pushing the pocket, he's at a different level playing the run. If he does just that alone in Houston, it's a win. Teams will have a dilemma determining how to handle Wilfork and J.J. Watt in the run game. You can't double both of them. The Seahawks found that out in the Super Bowl. They chose to single block Wilfork early in the game and it was a significant reason why the Seahawks running game was stagnant in the initial stages of the game.
Case in point, on the first drive of the game, the Seahawks faced a third and one and lined up in the shotgun. The tendency for Seattle in short yardage out of the gun was zone read and that's exactly what the Patriots expected. Wilfork is aligned in a three technique to the backside.
On the snap, Wilfork immediately engaged the tackle Justin Britt.
And, when I say engaged, I mean bent the rookie backwards.
The one aspect that Wilfork has improved over his time in the league is his ability to strike and shed. He shocked Britt to get separation and then discarded the Seahawk tackle.
Britt was hanging on for dear life, but Wilfork single-handedly closed down the cutback running lane for Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
No gain and time to punt.
Go back and look at the Patriots initial defensive alignment. Wilfork was in a three technique and the DT on the other side was in a three technique as well. There should've been a huge "cut-up" or cutback lane but Wilfork took that away after shedding Britt as easily as he did.
Later in the first half, the Seahawks had 21 personnel (two RB, one TE) and ran a lead zone play to Wilfork's side. Again, the Seahawks chose to not double him, which wasn't totally unexpected given the play call.
Wilfork was initially lined up in a 4i technique, this time on the playside.
On the snap, it appeared that right guard JR Sweazy did everything perfect to "scoop" Wilfork. His footwork was excellent. His positioning was on point.
He just couldn't get it done. Why?
Wilfork is just so strong that he didn't allow Sweazy to get his outside hip through the Patriot star to get Wilfork turned. As such, Wilfork won the hip battle and the Seahawks guard had no help.
Another Seahawks run stuffed, mainly by Wilfork.
Many assume the Texans will put Wilfork over the nose and allow him to two gap all day long. But, after watching him closely against the Ravens, the Colts and the Seahawks, he can do so much more. How defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel utilizes Wilfork and teams him with JJ Watt, in particular, will be one of the more intriguing storylines of the 2015 season.
I'm just glad that I get to see it all unfold...for my team.
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork's NFL career is chronicled.