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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 http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/jack-doyle-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, 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.2018 opponent scouting report: Week 3 Eagles defense, somehow the best D-line the Colts have seen OverviewOn September 23, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will make the trip to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. In this week three match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our new look Colts. The Eagles — as you may have heard — closed out last season by beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. As happy as I am the Patriots lost and Frank Reich is now the head coach of the Colts, I don’t want to give the defending champs anything they don’t earn. The last time these two teams played was September 15 Authentic Andrew Luck Jersey , 2014. The Eagles came out victorious four years ago but neither team is remotely similar to their 2014 counterparts. Hopefully our Colts can pull of the improbable win. Let’s figure out what we can expect in week three. Defensive Scheme:The Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz uses a 4-3 base defense, Schwartz employs what’s known as the wide-nine technique. It’s named due to the defensive ends playing a “9” technique. You’ve probably heard (or read) someone talk about a 1-tech, 3-tech or 5-tech, for an explanation of those this is a good read. A 9-tech lines up outside of the tight end, or rather where a tight end would line up. Remember where Dwight Freeny would line up on 3rd and 15 in the fourth quarter in any primetime game? That’s the 9-technique!Schwartz is famous for the wide-nine and the Eagles have the horses to make it run. Schwartz would prefer not to blitz and they probably won’t need to, to get pressure on Andrew Luck. You can expect to see stunts up front and they will look to confuse rookie Quenton Nelson. On the back end Schwartz will call more man than zone coverage but neither is likely to be shown a massive preference. The Eagles come out in what looks like zone coverage, true to form they only rush four, dropping seven. This play from the Falcons is designed to get one of the three receivers that end up on the right side of the field open. Matt Ryan had a window but he hesitated and this Eagles defense is just too fast for that, as a result Ryan nearly got his receiver killed. Cover 3:The Eagles come out showing a blitz but end up in cover 3 with four pass rushers and Matt Ryan has a tight pocket to throw from. The Eagles do a really good job of maintaining proper depth while not abandoning underneath responsibilities. This is the kind of discipline you need to have a highly successful, Super Bowl caliber defense. As you can see, Ryan has no where to go with the ballLet’s just try to avoid 3rd and 24:This should look familiar, anytime you have an offense in 3rd and 24 this is more or less what your defense is going to look like. One interesting thing I wanted to share are these defensive line splits:I know they like the wide-nine but this is ridiculous! On a serious note, this is a really well designed front, it forces Ryan to take the underneath receiver, he probably would have done it either way just to avoid the turnover but there aren’t two tackles in the league I would feel comfortable leaving on an island against two defensive ends on a 15 yard sprint to the QB. As a result, Ryan checks it down and somehow, Darius Leonard does in fact make this tackle too. (another joke, bear with me)Trouble with the zone:The thing I saw the Eagles have the most trouble with was the zone run. Zone concepts were working well in week one and to be fair, they normally work well for the Falcons. I did see the Eagles get overly aggressive flowing to the side of the field the back started out but they failed to always maintain gap responsibility meaning there were a lot of cutback opportunities. I don’t know that we can count on the Eagles playing with poor gap integrity on Sunday, one would think they’re eventually going to right the ship, but I know the first place I would test them would be up front with Jordan Wilkins, his vision and patience could combine for a few long runs this week. Defensive Line:Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Haloti Ngata, Fletcher Cox Womens Eric Ebron Jersey , Brandon Graham and Chris Long. How is anyone supposed to block these guys? Sure at this point in his career Ngata isn’t the force he used to be, but Barnett is a young and improving pass rusher who had 5 sacks in his rookie year. Michael Bennett is somehow, still playing at a high level. Chris Long is playing very well despite a lack of eye-popping production (and on a non-football related note is perhaps my favorite human being in the NFL, seriously he seems like such a good dude). Brandon Graham is playing at the highest level of his career, and Fletcher Cox is a cheat code. The Colts offensive line has had huge tests in the first two weeks of the season. The Bengals employ a truly great defensive front. The Redskins are full of young but highly talented gap-fillers and pass rushers, but neither team has anything close to the level of talent these Eagles have. My gut tells me that Anthony Castonzo won’t be able to play in this one and even though the Colts have only allowed three sacks through the first two weeks, I’m still very concerned. This could be the week the Eagles defensive line breaks out for 2018.I only posted clips from two guys because had I posted a highlight from everyone capable of making a big play on this defensive line, your web browser probably wouldn’t have been able to load the page. Even if it could, it probably would have taken 30 minutes to load and even in 1994 that would have been excessive, but possibly acceptable if there were a lot of pictures that needed to load one line of pixels at a time. Nobody wants that. Linebackers:Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are the two linebackers you’ll see most often on Sunday. You might see Kamu Grugier-Hill as he played around 40% of the Eagles week two defensive snaps. Another name to keep an eye on is Nathan Gerry. Gerry was a 5th round pick in 2017 out of Wisconsin, a safety in college the Eagles have converted the 6’2” 230lber and while playing sparingly he did see the field some last week. Hicks is a very good linebacker in 2018, he’s 6’1” 238lbs and he can run and hit and he can cover. Nigel Bradham broke out with the Eagles in 2016 after coming over from the Buffalo Bills. During his time in Buffalo, Bradham struggled to stay healthy but he seems to have put those issues behind him. Bradham is better against the run than the pass but we will see far worse linebackers this season that what we will get on Sunday. Defensive Backs:To say that cornerback Jalen Mills has had a rough start to 2018 would be an understatement. Safety Malcom Jenkins has also claimed some responsibility for some pretty big mistakes that have been made:The other safety Rodney McLeod has received rave reviews for his early season play:Meanwhile Ronald Darby has also excelled:One thing to note is talented second year corner Sidney Jones has had a very solid start to the season but only played on 50% of the Eagles snaps in week two. I have to believe it will only be a matter of time before he is moved into a more prominent role. This Eagles secondary is a good but not great one. The one thing to remember, though, any secondary looks better with an elite pass rush, something the Eagles have. I honestly believe Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton could expose this defense in a big way, I also believe Luck could throw three interceptions, really this entire game is going to be decided up front. What To Expect From The Colts Offense:I think we can expect to see a lot of short crossing routes designed to beat man coverage, I also think we’re going to see some zone run concepts mixed in to try to exploit the Eagles speed and aggressiveness and if the Colts could ever execute (or time the play call correctly, lookin’ at you Frank) a screen pass, those could also be very effective against this defense. The thing to remember with the Eagles D is this; they’re good enough, we can’t hope the Colts can exploit any single position group or player, they simply have too much talent. Instead the Colts offense is going to have to rely on superior scheme and excellent execution, something they may be capable of doing.
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