Skip to main content

Massaquoi Quickly Learning Nolan's Scheme


Four tackles. Two tackles for loss. One quarterback hit. Two special teams tackles.

For any player, that's not a bad night of football. For a rookie, playing in his first preseason game as a pro, that's a pretty impressive haul.

Fifth-round rookie defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi shows up like he's being fast forwarded through the game while the other players are playing at a normal speed. Down to the weight he played at as a junior at Troy, a season that put him among the nation's leaders in sacks, Massaquoi's priority is to play the game as fast as possible.

The rookie credits defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with a player-friendly scheme that allows players to play fast. If he appears faster on the field, it's because he's putting in his work to learn the system and he wants to help set the tone for energy on the field.

"Coach Nolan has a great defensive scheme," Massaquoi said on Saturday. "All the schemes we run are manageable for every guy to know so they can play fast. I played fast on Thursday. There are some things that I can do better. That's why we have practice. Hopefully, I'll look better going into Week 2 of the preseason."

Massaquoi was pleased with what he did on Thursday night against the Ravens, but he concedes he's got a lot more to learn. He approaches every practice and film study session with a desire to get better. Improving each day is critical at a position like defensive end that boasts a heated training camp battle.

Bunched with Massaquoi are a few other defensive ends that are trying to make the team. Lawrence Sidbury and Cliff Matthews appear ahead of the rookie at the moment because off experience, but a few more games like Week 1's for Massaquoi will increase the pressure on Sidbury and Matthews.

The rookie is worried less about beating out specific players and more about just trying to do what he can to make the team.

"If they're getting the reps in front of me, I'm watching them and critiquing them as well as they critique me," he said. "I either apply that to my game and I know what to do and what not to do in certain situations. The competition is good because it's healthy. My number one goal is to make the team.  A lot of these guys have already made the team, but my thing is to make the team."

Of course, like every young player, the way to make the team is truly through special teams, which puts Massaquoi in a unique position. During his time at Troy, he never played that phase of the game. Now in the NFL, it's just something else that he's working to learn.

"Number one, I have to play special teams and do the best I can and later transition to my position," he said. "I'm working both sides of the field right now. I'm keeping a high head and keeping motivated and happy every day."

One of the advantages he has in his corner is that he feels Nolan's scheme is similar to what he ran  at Troy. Defensive ends dropped back into coverage at Troy and he's also used to standing up as a defensive end and playing a role similar to an outside linebacker.

In Nolan's scheme a premium is placed on diverse players that are athletic and can help create the varied looks on D to confuse quarterbacks. Athletes like Massaquoi can make that possible. He sees how he fits in the defense, but he's trying to follow the old adage about taking each day at a time, but as quickly as possible.

"You have to acclimate fast and go fast or you're going to get left behind," he said. "That's not what I want to do. I'm keeping an open mind, being observant and taking the coaching and applying it every day."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content