Panthers Mario Addison Pre-Snap

Mario Addison and the Role of a Specialist Pass Rusher

If there was an NFL award equivalent to the NBA’s 6th man trophy, then Panthers edge rusher Mario Addison would be near the top of the list. Addison is a specialist pass rusher who thrives in the Panthers “NASCAR” package. This sub package is used to replace heavier players with lighter players, so the defensive line can use athleticism and speed on passing downs. Mario Addison is not a starter on the defensive line due to his value on special teams and the question marks of his stoutness against the run. He did, however, finish with six sacks last season which was second on the team.


NFL players have strong egos. This is not news. However, it is refreshing to see Mario Addison’s acceptance of his limited role. Despite the limited snaps, his production on a per snap basis was brilliant last season. Furthermore, five out of the six sacks he was involved in last season came on third downs. He is affecting the quarterback in critical situations.

According to Panthers defensive line coach Eric Washington, Addison’s biggest asset heading into the 2015 season was his speed. He was able to pressure the quarterback consistently using his speed rush in 2013 and 2014, but the exciting part of his evolution has been the diversity in his pass rushes. The creativity was on display in 2015. Let’s breakdown each sack to determine how Mario Addison was able to win.

2015 Sacks

Opponent: Week 1 vs Jacksonville
Situation: 3rd and 10 from the JAX 11.
Time: 3rd quarter. 1:11 remaining

Addison is rushing from the left end position. He gets off quickly and attempts a speed rush on the right tackle, but that avenue is closed off. Addison does a good job of realizing that and he uses a bull jerk to drive the tackle off balance and sack the quarterback.

Opponent: Week 1 vs Jacksonville
Situation: 3rd and 10 from the JAX 45
Time: 4th quarter. 0:33 remaining

Addison is again rushing from the left end position. He executes a stab and grab on the tackle for his second sack of the game. Addison explodes off the line of scrimmage and gets solid hand placement on the tackle. The tackle counters with his inside arm on Addison. There should have been an illegal hands to the face penalty, but that did not deter Addison from making his move. Addison retaliates by using his opposite arm to disengage with the tackle. He does this so well that it causes the tackle to fall off balance.

Opponent: Week 7 vs Philadelphia
Situation: 3rd and 11 from the PHI 39
Time: 1st quarter. 12:39 remaining

Jason Peters has been one of the most finesse and physical offensive tackles in the NFL during his time in Philadelphia. He battled injuries last season, but for Mario Addison to get under Peters’ pad and bull jerk him for a sack is impressive.

Opponent: Week 11 vs Washington
Situation: 1st and 10 from the WAS 20
Time: 4th quarter. 10:30 remaining

Addison and Delaire both get off the ball quickly and use speed rushes to share the sack.

Opponent: Week 11 vs Washington
Situation: 1st and 10 from the Washington 32
Time: 4th quarter. 8:32 remaining

Addison explodes off the line immediately. He uses the stab and grab move again to sack the quarterback. The trend starting to develop is how refined his hand placement is. Strength is important for edge rushers, but technique wins.

Opponent: Week 14 vs Atlanta
Situation: 3rd and 4 from the CAR 45.
Time: 2nd quarter. 4:33 remaining

This was a neat zone blitz by the Panthers. Linebacker Thomas Davis deserves credit for instantly entering the A Gap and disrupting the quarterback. Addison assists Davis on the sack by utilizing a speed chop and rip.

Opponent: Week 17 vs Tampa Bay
Situation: 3rd and 4 from the TAM 34.
Time: 3rd quarter. 12:46 remaining

This is another example of Mario Addison attempting to beat the offensive tackle around the edge. The tackle sets his stance in a wide base and closes that lane. However, Addison shows off a pretty counter by double swiping his way to the quarterback. The finish is all effort.

2016 Outlook

There is debate on if the Panthers have enough depth at the edge rusher position. Addison will likely remain a primary sub package pass rusher, but don’t let the limited number of snaps diminish his value. In addition, Addison presents a key role on special teams. Remember him chasing down the Broncos punt returner in the Super Bowl and saving a touchdown? If he gains additional weight, then his crucial duties on special teams could diminish. These specialist pass rushers are important in today’s NFL where teams are passing more than ever. Mario Addison embraces his role and he’s darn good at it.

Billy Marshall

<p>Billy grew up in the Carolinas as a passionate Carolina Panthers fan. His relationship with the team is similar to a marital partnership. There have been good times and bad times. He sought to drill down the reasons for the bad times. That led him to intense film study and draft scouting. Cam Newton has been a major key for a lot of the recent good times.</p>