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Browns Pass Rush: Signing Defensive Tackle Sione Fua

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With Armonty Bryant being placed on IR with a knee injury, the Browns signed DT Sione Fua.

Sione Fua
Sione Fua
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Just like Browns TE Gerell Robinson, DT Sione Fua was in training camp with the Broncos this year, didn't survive the final cuts, and has now been added to the Cleveland Browns active roster due to a Browns player being injured at his position (Robinson was signed after TE Jordan Cameron got hurt in Week 1).

According to ClevelandBrowns.com:

"Fua is a 6-2, 310 pound veteran in his fourth NFL season out of Stanford. Originally a third round draft pick by Carolina in 2011, Fua has appeared in 29 games with 12 starts. He has registered 33 tackles and one forced fumble. He appeared in 27 games with the Panthers from 2011-13 and two games with the Broncos last season. Fua was waived by the Broncos during final roster cuts this season. "

After watching some of his 2011 tape with the Panthers and his plays in the Broncos game versus the Titans last year, I'd describe Sione Fua as "a very linear, stack 'em up guy". He's powerful, jolts guards and centers, and is difficult to drive off the ball. His downside is the same as his upside: he's very linear and consequently struggles when linemen start to get him turned. Well, that and he doesn't offer much as a pass rusher outside of a powerful bull rush.

When I say "linear", I mean that Fua doesn't turn well, has poor agility, and doesn't move well laterally but does move well straight ahead, is hard to push back, and can drive offensive linemen backwards.

As for roles, though, in the base defense I like him best at weakside tackle (WT below, and typically Phil Taylor's spot), lining up over a guard rather than the center. In that position, he'll know which direction a potential double team is coming from the majority of the time -- from the guard in front of him and the center (unless there's a tight end lined up on his side of the formation, which could free up the tackle...but the formation would tip him off to that possibility) -- which will keep him from being blindsided and turned out of the play. He should be able to focus on attacking his gap or controlling his man from the WT position. That's playing to his strengths and away from his weaknesses.

Pettine_BASE_saban - Note

At nose tackle (ST above), it's much more uncertain where a double team will come from. It could be the right guard or the left guard lending the center a hand. With his poor agility, he's not suited to handle this. As a result, he could end up getting exposed and picked on in the running game if he has to man that spot too often. It would be much better to line him up at weakside tackle and have another lineman such as Rubin, Taylor, Kitchen, Hughes, or even Winn play nose tackle.



2013 With the Broncos (#98)

Sione Fua is able to get a good push off the snap in the goal line defense, driving back left tackle Michael Roos:

Fua13_TEN1Q12-43_Live


Fua drives back the guard and sheds to make the tackle on the running back:

Fua13_TEN2Q10-06


Fua gets blown off the ball by a center and right guard double team:

Fua13_TEN2Q10-36_Live


On this play, Fua holds his ground well versus a double team in the run game:

Fua13_TEN2Q9-35_Live


Here Fua gets the best of the center while 2-gapping:

Fua13_TEN4Q2-33


Below, he flashes some athleticism on an outside rush from his 3-4 defensive end spot. If he can do this consistently, coupled with his 2-gapping ability, he could get some consideration at the heavy end spot (SE in that diagram of defensive front 7 positions earlier in this article).

Fua13_TEN2Q8-14


Fua penetrates into the backfield on a pass rush from the nose tackle position:

Fua13_TEN3Q4-59



Here's a little snippet of Fua's college film:


I wouldn't be surprised if Pettine went with 5 active defensive linemen against the Jaguars. That means Desmond, Hughes, Kitchen, Rubin, and either Winn or Fua. If it's Fua he probably won't play much this first week. If he does play, he could get reps at nose or weakside tackle. Lots of "ifs" here, so I don't expect him to have a significant role this coming Sunday.