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Film Room: Quenton Nelson vs. Houston Texans
07-11-2018, 12:43 PM
Post: #1
200
Film Room: Quenton Nelson vs. Houston Texans
Pass Blocking In a game that saw the Colts fall behind in the first half due to a bad snap on their own goal line and a fumble forced by J.J. Watt on a strip sack Womens Ryan Grant Jersey , it isn’t surprising to see Indianapolis run a pass heavy offensive attack for much of the afternoon. There were 62 passing attempts and 65 passing drop backs as Andrew Luck scrambled on broken passing plays on 3 occasions. To say that this is tasking your offensive line with a challenge would be an understatement. It was quite clear for the Texans that getting to Andrew Luck was the primary assignment and they were able to spend much of the day with their speed lineup in the game to throw numerous looks at a banged up Colts offensive line.The good news is that allowing 4 sacks on 65 passing attempts isn’t awful and that one Jadeveon Clowney speed rush landing against Le’Raven Clark and two J.J. Watt sacks against Denzelle Good isn’t stunning either. Those sacks came in the first half, with the final one in overtime. Unfortunately for the Colts, in their bid for an AFC South win, the sack in OT came at about as bad a time as it could. Unfortunately for rookie Quenton Nelson, the sack came through him.We will break down 9 of the 65 passing drop backs today with an emphasis primarily on Nelson’s biggest signs of struggle. We have three plays displaying some of the positive attributes we’ve seen before. The 56 other passing snaps saw Nelson either win, not allow a pressure or did not see his assignment have a meaningful influence on the play.While we will get to the Jadeveon Clowney (#90) sack that put the Colts into a difficult position in overtime, I spent my initial viewing of the film looking for examples of Clowney isolating Quenton Nelson (#56). There were only two examples in the entire game. This play occurred in the first quarter.Clowney stunts to the inside on this play, as he will in overtime, and gets a powerful running start into Nelson. Nelson is thrown backward but manages to anchor and keep his hips between Clowney and the pocket. He releases the block quick enough to not get called for a holding penalty as Luck escaped to his right. It is reasonable to note that Nelson’s ability to take Clowney’s best shot and keep his anchor is impressive. It is reasonable to say that overall he did what he needed to do to keep pressure away from Luck. It is also reasonable to say that Clowney tested him in their first face-to-face on field meeting.Over an hour later, in overtime, this is Clowney’s second stunt into Nelson’s face. This time, Nelson is too committed to Whitney Mercilus (#59) and is sluggish in passing him off to Le’Raven Clark. He has only one leg in the dirt when Clowney chucks him and is unable to anchor. Once he loses at initial contact the play is essentially over. Credit Houston’s defense for coming back to something that worked when they needed it most. Nelson had been dealing primarily with Mercilus and interior defensive linemen all day and got caught off-balance by one of the more powerful pass rushers in the NFL.There were other snaps where Nelson had some difficulty maintaining his block. Here he is beat to his inside shoulder. His initial zone step left, which is mirrored by Ryan Kelly to his inside, was window-dressing to sell the play-action to Nyheim Hines. Unfortunately for Nelson, it took him directly out of position for Mercilus and allowed pressure in Luck’s face.This was a quick release play-action passing concept so there isn’t a hit on Luck here but it is an example of a play where pressure comes through his gap. One attribute we’ve been able to identify in Nelson’s game is that he struggles with lateral movement in space. He comes to his right to get in front of nose tackle Brandon Dunn (#92) but ends up on an island. He has to commit so hard to his right to get into position that he realizes he is vulnerable to a move left. Dunn jukes to that side and gets Nelson to recover. By the time Nelson realizes that Dunn’s move is false, it is too late and he comes into Luck’s face. Whether this had an impact on Luck’s throw being a little high to Eric Ebron isn’t entirely clear. Dunn still doesn’t get a QB hit but he certainly is in a position to impact the play.This is another example of Nelson not immediately engaging with a defender. If he is standing alone in space with Mercilus in front of him, he will get eaten alive by lateral moves. He does well to keep his balance initially but the club rip move to Nelson’s left leaves him exposed. Mercilus has a lane between Nelson and Clark to the quarterback and Luck has to get rid of the pass under pressure — his pass is inaccurate and is behind Chester Rogers.The final play that shows Nelson in a difficult position is in the middle of a lot of traffic on the left side of the offensive line. He initially blocks Mercilus but is off-balance when he passes the block off to Le’Raven Clark. Duke Ejiofor takes advantage of the opportunity to chuck Nelson while he is off balance and gets a hit on Luck after he releases the pass — a completion to T.Y. Hilton on the right sideline.It is also worth noting that this is another Jadeveon Clowney stunt. This time it is into the A gap and goes through Ryan Kelly. Kelly is also well out of position and gets beat badly but the stunt takes so long to develop that Luck gets his pass away.While this isn’t the best piece of film in the world it does demonstrate that Nelson did spend a good portion of his day finding ways to help other offensive linemen. One of my favorite attributes about Nelson is his vision and that he stays busy looking for someone to block. There were multiple plays that could be used as an example but this is one of the habits he has that will make him a good offensive lineman for a long time.While I included each play where Nelson struggled against Texans pass rushers Womens Denico Autry Jersey , he also had plenty of plays where he shut them down. This is an example of Mercilus making the mistake of getting directly into Nelson’s chest. Squaring up Nelson means losing, for pretty much anyone. There were also examples of Nelson punishing defenders and finishing blocks, consistent with his reputation. The official lost his mind and called Nelson for holding on this play — he ought to be embarrassed and potentially relieved of his NFL officiating responsibilities moving forward for this garbage — but this is how you want any offensive linemen to block. Nelson takes Angelo Blackson’s best shot outside and has no problem shutting down his spin move. Blackson is then left to try to “arm wrestle” Nelson with his hands up in his shoulder pads. He ends up running his feet underneath himself and surrendering his base. Nelson then serves up a pancake for his teammates. Nelson 1 - Blackson 0 - Officials - blew it.ANALYSISThis is arguably Nelson’s weakest overall performance as a pass blocker this season. I still think that his win percentages make him a very strong guard and that he has certainly shown of the talent it will take to become the Pro Bowl caliber player everyone thinks he can be, but there are some habits he needs to break. It is also clear that dealing with NFL athletes who are more agile and faster than the players he regularly faced in college is sometimes a challenge for him.While the Texans defensive line isn’t quite as stacked as some of the other teams Nelson has faced this season, Jadeveon Clowney is unlike any other pass rusher he has seen this year. He is arguably the most dominant and well-rounded edge rusher he has faced all season. He still has some learning to do but 59 neutral or positive plays out of 65 total passing drop backs isn’t anything to be overly upset about.Football Outsiders’ Tom Gower answers questions about the 2018 Indianapolis Colts Every year, Football Outsiders puts together an almanac that analyzes each team before the college and NFL seasons begin. Included is a look at statistical analysis on a team and individual basis, along with projections for 2018. For those who are more interested in how Football Outsiders views the Colts overall, seven pages of team-specific content is also filled with commentary from Tom Gower. His bio at Football Outsiders:After Stampede Blue’s staff had a chance to read Gower’s thoughts on the Colts in this year’s almanac, we were afforded the opportunity to ask some follow-up questions. We hope you enjoy the interaction below.SB: Andrew Luck has been a full go throughout all of training camp, making throws all over the field. Given the changes on the offensive line and assuming Luck plays the whole season, what would you project for the Colts offense in 2018?TG: Our projection in Football Outsiders Almanac 2018 has the Colts 13th in offensive DVOA. That assumes Luck’s readiness for the start of the regular season with no particular limitations, with no more risk of getting injured than any other quarterback. It’s worth keeping in mind our projections are based on many simulations and are the average of a lot of different possibilities. That projection is pretty much in line with what the Colts did do on offense in 2016.SB: Other than Andrew Luck, who would you pick as the dark horse candidates to significantly alter your predictions on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?TG: Rather than specific players, I think a lot of the offense and defense comes down to schemes and particularly the coordinators and how effectively they’re able to get players playing together and how effective they are at game-planning and adjustments.Looking more at specific players, I’d highlight Tarell Basham and Kemoko Turay on defense. Jabaal Sheard was one of the league leaders in hurries per our charting partners at Sports Info Solutions, and the emergence of a second pass rusher would really help.On offense, I don’t know if he really qualifies as a dark horse Womens Kenny Moore Jersey , but I think T.Y. Hilton is actually a key player. Given all the questions at wide receiver after him, it would be useful if he could be a target sink. But the Reich/Sirianni offense will be oriented more around stretching the defense horizontally rather than vertically, so Hilton will probably be asked to win in somewhat different ways than he has in the past.SB: What has been your observation about teams playing under a new coaching staff? Is there something instructive that Colts fans might be able to use as a reference to keep expectations in check?TG: New coaching staffs range from the exceptionally successful to exceptionally unsuccessful. Frank Reich has never really run his own offense, Nick Sirianni is in his first year as a coordinator, and Matt Eberflus has coordinated only in college means the Colts are a hard team to predict from that perspective.SB: Outside of quarterback, what position on the team do you feel will be most improved in 2018 and how much does that impact your record projections?TG: It’s hard not to pinpoint the offensive line after the big draft investments and all the issues the position group had last year, as long as Anthony Castonzo’s injury does not linger into the season (as I write this on August 7). That will definitely help, but the scheme change from Rob Chudzinski to Reich/Sirianni will probably be at least as important for protecting Luck and keeping him healthy than the change on the line. SB: Based upon changes over the last couple of years for the Colts in terms of adding younger players, having new management, and completely overturning the coaching staff, how would you project the team’s future? TG: It comes down to scheming and player development, and we should learn a lot this year about that. I thought heading into last offseason that this year we’d be looking at a defense where we could identify a couple building blocks, a couple average players, and a couple players replacing guys it was clear last year needed to be upgraded. Instead, we’re looking at another year of a lot of new players coming together.We’re actually not that pessimistic about the Colts defense for 2018. I know, that seems weird to say when they’re 29th in our projections in the book. As I noted, though Authentic Joe Haeg Jersey , the projections are the sum of a range of possibilities, and the defense has been bad enough long enough and there aren’t enough significant investments in draft and free agency that our projections see a good chance of becoming a top ten unit. But they should be better. The 2017 Colts defense was really awful on third downs-one of the worst third down defenses of the DVOA era (going back to 1986). Those defenses have tended to improve more than most bad defenses. All the personnel changeover makes us a little uneasy about that, but I also covered the 2011 Texans, who changed over a lot of players and without the benefit of pre-training camp offseason work went from awful to really good.With an offense that’s a little above average and a defense that is bad but not awful, the Colts are wild card contenders this year in our view, in what should be an extremely competitive AFC South (we’re down on the Jaguars relative to people who pay more attention to playoff wins, and the gap from first to last place in the division is just 0.6 wins in our projections). The AFC as a whole is New England and Pittsburgh and a really big gap to anybody else. Tom Brady will fall off or retire eventually, right? And Ben Roethlisberger’s not going to play forever, and doesn’t seem to be aging as well as Brady, anyway. The conference beyond the immediate future looks wide open, and Luck taking another step in his development plus one or two defenders turning into a real playmaker could put Indianapolis at the top of that group. But they’re not the only team in the conference or even the division that can tell that kind of story.Our ThoughtsGower was fair in his assessment about the Colts moving forward. Interestingly, we agree that while the AFC South should be very competitive, it is more likely that the Colts will take a step forward and the Jaguars a step back. Only time will tell just how big those steps will be.It is interesting to note that some of the biggest weaknesses for the Colts 2017 defense tend to see meaningful rebounds in the following year. New coaching staffs make it hard to predict how volatile the Colts could be relative to those historical results but there is every reason to believe that a much more consistent offense, in both halves of football games, will take pressure off of the defense. This alone could help the team find more success.Another seemingly unanimous opinion is that Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni will have a profound impact on how the offense functions. The quicker releases and more horizontal aspects to the game could help keep Luck upright and help the offensive line better. What do you think about Gower’s comments?
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