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Tale of the Tape: Connor McGovern’s big game

The Denver Broncos may have found a starter at guard in Connor McGovern.

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While the Denver Broncos are eliminated from playoff contention, there are still plenty of things to look for on tape that will help inform Denver’s future, and our understanding of it as fans.

So, while we may have taken a brief respite due to the fact that there just hasn’t been a lot of good football to look at, Tale of the Tape will be here throughout the remainder of the season and into the off-season taking a look at what the eye in the sky can tell us about the Broncos.

Speaking of that, now is the time to begin hitting me up in the comments on things you would like to see potentially highlighted in this series. In fact, today’s topic is via commenters’ request.

Connor McGovern hasn’t seen the field much since being taken in the 5th round of 2016’s draft. While he reportedly looked solid in camp playing center while Paradis recovered from hip surgery, we haven’t got to see much of him at guard.

Now, with Leary being put on injured reserve, this has opened up a nice window for McGovern to show what he can do, and for Denver to see what they have in the Missouri product.

Thursday night’s game against the Colts was what I would consider a breakout game for the 2nd year player. As much of a “breakout game” one can have at right guard.

McGovern impressed me with his movement in the run game, the movement he was able to generate, as well as his solid pass protection.

Let’s dig into the film.

Run Game

Denver posted for their largest rushing yardage total in over three years last night: 45 carries for 213 yards and 4.7 YPA. C.J. Anderson accounted for 158 of those yards on 30 carries and 5.3 YPA.

Anytime the running game posts those kind of eye popping numbers, you have to look at the boys up front, and Connor McGovern played a big part in the Broncos’ huge game on the ground.

First of all, the new camera angles for TNF are awesome and allow for some great high-definition analysis of the line play, often without even needing the coaches film.

Here Denver is running a toss right, with Janovich leading around the edge. The Colts played most of the night with an extra safety in the box to stop the run, as they do here.

McGovern here is taking on the 3-technique 1-on-1 and must work to get his backside shoulder squared with the DT’s playside shoulder, as you see above. It takes good initial quickness to be able to jump out and reach block a defensive tackle here.

This allows him to begin to position his body between the defender and the ball carrier’s intended path on the toss.

McGovern now has the DT turned nearly perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and has sealed him off from this play. He has also held his ground well so the linebacker gets stuck between he and Stephenson, so Anderson has a lot of green grass with Janovich clearing out the safety.

Great execution all around on this one.

This next one shows a trend that continued throughout the night as Denver ran inside zone or split zones with great success.

McGovern often had the backside DT 1-on-1 when they would run inside or split zone left, as he does here.

His power in the run game is evident here as he locks on and begins to move the defensive tackle.

Collinsworth actually called him out from the broadcast booth for this play as he just collapses the backside, leaving a gaping cutback hole for C.J. Anderson.

Above is where McGovern and his man ended up, and the other circle is about where they started the play. I know he also used the defenders momentum here, but that’s still some serious movement at the point of attack, and a great finish.

He was doing this all night with these runs.

This one he shows nice recognition at the second level to take out the linebacker after he’s helped with the double team and gets two guys on one play.

Pass Protection

Not only did he have a big night in the running game, but he looked pretty good in pass protection. The NFL is a passing league at the end of the day (I’m competing for most cliche sentence of all time here), so you have to be able to hold up and keep pressure out of your quarterback’s face on the interior.

McGovern wasn’t always perfect, but he continues to work and stay with the block even after being initially beat.

This allows Brock to still get the ball out unhindered and stay clean.

Here’s another one.

This play he gets beat pretty bad initially, but makes a nice recovery and stays with it to re-direct the defender, and once again, protect his quarterback.

This one shows great recognition and awareness on a 3rd down play. The DT and DE are going to run a twist.

McGovern initially helps with the DT, then recognizes the twist and comes off to pick up the looping DE.

He easily redirects him to Paradis and they stop him in his tracks.

Now unfortunately, Trevor Siemian doesn’t know how to step up into the pocket, Garrett Bolles struggles with speed rushes, and Donald Stephenson gets beat as well, leading Siemian to be sacked and ultimately injured.

But McGovern does his job and shows great awareness to easily handled the T/E stunt.

Lastly, I noticed McGovern does a nice job helping and “looking for work” in pass protection when there isn’t a rusher immediately in his area.

So those are some things that stuck out to me about Connor McGovern’s game against the Colts. Now, I recognize that the Colts defense isn’t exactly the Rams or the Jaguars defensive front, but there are still positive takeaways to get excited about from this game.

I am looking forward to seeing more of McGovern over the last two games of the season, and will likely re-visit this conversation at the season’s end when there’s a 4-game sample size to examine.

Until then, let’s talk in the comments. What did you see, Broncos Country?!