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Joey Bosa's Beautiful Mind 


He stands at a hulking 6-5, 280-pounds; a physical specimen seemingly designed by the football gods.

He has everything you look for in a defensive lineman.




He's also only 23 years old, figuring to only get faster and stronger as he enters the prime of his career. Still, all these factors pale in comparison to Joey Bosa's biggest strength.

It's his cerebral approach to the game that has number 99 already entrenched as the preeminent defensive end in the National Football League.

You see, Bosa doesn't just want to use his arsenal of moves; he wants to understand why each tool in his toolbox works. Why is it so effective? How does it translate to a more efficient pass rush?

"You do all these things because you know they work, but why do them?" he said while explaining his approach. "What makes that technique more effective than another technique? That's where I find enjoyment. In actually breaking it down and learning why you do this move. Not just because it beats the guy, but what specific movements and what parts of your body can you move and improve to make it even cleaner and more fluid? How are you actually placing that foot-point of the toe? How high is that foot getting in the air? How quick is it getting down? Where is it placed when it gets put down? You could take everything into a complete science and try to break it down even further."

Basically, Bosa attacks his job with a deep philosophical approach unheard of in the NFL. In fact, his thirst to understand why each move in his toolbox works borders on obsessive.

"There are so many different ways to rush the passer," he explained. "It's a game of inches, if not centimeters. So any little thing can help you, even the way you point your toe. It's very fulfilling when you do a move you've never done before and it gets you a sack. It's literally how I am in anything in life. If I take an interest in something, I'm going to go all in and really get into it."

The results speak for themselves.

After missing the first nine games of the season with a foot injury, Joey Bosa returned to the lineup last week determined to continue his dominating ways.  He followed up his 2016 campaign, in which he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year, with a historic sophomore season in 2017 in which he posted 70 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and a whopping 21 QB hits. In Week 8 vs. the Patriots, Bosa set the NFL record for the most sacks by a player in his first 20 games (19). As a result, he earned the first Pro Bowl honor of his career.

Truth be told, Bosa's love for football differs from most other players.

You won't catch him watching college games on a Saturday or one of the NFL's primetime games. In fact, he explained how it wasn't until he missed the first nine games of this season that he fully realized how much he actually loves the game.

Still, what Joey Bosa lives for most is playing defensive end. The technical side of it. The one-on-one battles that weave together with the rest of the defensive linemen as they work in complex unison.

"I don't watch football really ever, unless my brother's playing or (watching) film," he said bluntly. "I love watching the defensive line. I love pass rushing. I love playing D-line. There are so many different ways to rush the passer, and I'm still learning. That's what I really love – that specific part of football."

Bosa doesn't limit himself to only watching fellow stars at his position. Even with all his success, he studies backup and rotational players as well.

For instance, Chris Landrum and Isaac Rochell are two youngsters who marvel at the way Bosa watches their tape. While they appreciate how much he's helped them improve their own game, they also marvel at how he's looking for ways to incorporate their moves into his ever-expanding toolbox.

"Joey doesn't have to watch the second-team guys, but with the pass rush, he watches us," Landrum explained. "He tries to help us, but it's also more than that. He's looking for ways to improve himself. His passion for the pass rush is crazy. If there's one thing about Joey, he works harder than anybody on this team."

"He's such a technician, and he takes such pride in his work, that it inspires us to adopt the same mindset," added Rochell. "We see how pass rush is more than just grit and technique. He has both, but really, it's the way he is so precise with his hands and his feet. And he wants to get better. We'll be watching tape in the room, and even when he's not in (the play) or on tape, he'll stop us and say, 'Hey, can you rewind that? Let me see what he did there. Let me see how he put his foot there?' Film time for him is a time to be selfish in the sense to look at what other guys are doing and how that can help him. And then when we're on the field, he does an even better job of giving advice and critiquing what we do."

It's clear that technique and fundamentals are paramount to Bosa's success, but it wasn't always that way.

Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Bosa dominated the game when he was younger, but once he hit high school he quickly realized there was more to it. That's when his love affair with the position began and he vociferously focused on the intricacies of the game. He gave up other sports he played like baseball and basketball, focusing solely on the gridiron.

It was during Bosa's senior year of high school that he really began incorporating techniques and fundamentals. However, enrolling at Ohio State took it to another level.

"It didn't really start happening much until my sophomore year when Coach (Larry) Johnson came in. Pretty much the way I pass rush is based off of how he coaches. If you watch his D-line, they all rush very similar. If you watch my brother (Nick), we have very similar playing styles. I got obsessed with it when he became coach because that's what he brought to the D-line room."

It's a style his current defensive line coach, Giff Smith, believes in as well. The two joined the Bolts at the same time, meshing immediately due to their intense belief in the importance of technique and fundamentals.

As Bosa continues his meteoric trajectory in becoming one of NFL's premier players, his thirst to improve and understand his position is rising at an equal pace.

"Playing defensive end is a crazy skill, and it's just so technical," he said matter-of-factly. "It's not about learning the defense or learning the offense; it's honing the specific skill. I find it very enjoyable to be able to learn new things, and then apply them and be able to win individually and as a team. I want to understand it all. If I understand it, I'll be able to control it and use it a lot better."

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