You’ll never find Craig Roh dozing off in a film study session.
As much as the former Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end enjoys taking down quarterbacks, Roh, an Arizona native currently living in Austin, Texas, has always liked doing homework before and after games.
“I was just talking with (Bombers defensive lineman) Jackson Jeffcoat. He’s up here in Austin as well. We were at lunch the other day and he’s like ‘Man, I always feel like you enjoyed watching film more than playing the game.’ And I was like ‘No, I enjoy both of them, but I definitely enjoy watching film,’” Roh said with a laugh during a phone interview.
“Really, when you look at film, what you’re doing is you’re uncovering data and you’re kind of like the data analyst in a way where you’re looking at tendencies, you’re looking at schemes, you’re looking at probabilities, and the more you can understand what you’re looking at in the film room, the more of an advantage you’re going to have when you’re out on the field.”
Roh, who joined the Blue and Gold in 2018 and went on to have 14 sacks in 29 games before signing a deal with the Toronto Argonauts in February, wants to help other defenders have an advantage when they step on the field. The 29-year-old is releasing an eBook on Oct. 3 called The Pass Rush Bible (https://www.craigroh.com/the-pass-rush-bible), a step-by-step guide to help coaches and pass rushers make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. The book isn’t about the Xs and Os of the game. Instead, Roh breaks down the technique of a pass rush with video examples and a library of drills.
Earlier in the year, Roh started posting videos online that analyzed things such as former NFL Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney’s famous spin move and broke down what made it work so well. Roh’s content quickly gained traction on social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, leading to him to take it one step further and create a book.
“For me growing up, I didn’t really have any sort of resources that would help me improve my technique. I just had to figure it out myself and depend on my coaches. However good my coach was, that’s how much I would progress at that time,” said Roh, who also played three seasons with the B.C. Lions. “I wanted to put a resource out there that a young player or young coach can look at it and go like ‘Wow, this is defensive line play and I can learn a lot of good stuff from it.’… There really isn’t a definitive guide right now, so, maybe calling it the Bible is a little sacrilegious, but I’m putting enough effort into it where it should come out as a Bible of sorts and a singular resource that these coaches and players can depend on and look at when they want that definitive guide to pass rush.”
After four years at the University of Michigan, Roh didn’t hear his name called at the 2013 NFL Draft. He signed with the Carolina Panthers, but never made it to the active roster and was eventually cut. It didn’t look like a career in pro football was going to be in the cards for Roh until he made some tweaks to his approach to the game thanks to some coaching from a two-time Super Bowl champion, former New York Giants defensive lineman Dave Tollefson. Tollefson played in the NFL between 2006-2012.
“I got cut from the Panthers and I was playing in a rinky-dink league called the FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League) on a team called the Omaha Mammoths and (Tollefson) was the D-line coach. He taught me his system for how he analyzed the pass rush and after learning his system, I had my first three-sack game. So, I was like ‘Maybe there’s something to this.’ So, he was one of the best that I’ve ran into and obviously he came from a high-level defensive line that defeated one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL (the 2007 New England Patriots).”
Roh admits he’s not the fastest or strongest defensive lineman out there, and most players are in the same boat as him. But with some adjustments, which is what Roh is confident his book can provide, players can find a way to dominate the line of scrimmage.
“I’d say 95 per cent of players are players like me who are you know, not a Willie Jefferson, not a Von Miller. There’s really only a few guys who can play a game like those sorts of guys. The rest of us have to play a bit more of a chess match and use more of the analytical side and the mind side to be able to win one-on-one matchups. That’s what I’ve ultimately learned and every great player who isn’t an athletic freak should be using the same system.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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