Ben Powers was brought in to be a strong run blocker. We all know that by now. But he was also one of the better offensive guards in the 2022-23 season when it came to pass protection. You might not have known that if you’ve been watching him this year. At least up until the Kansas City Chiefs game.
One of this year’s new offensive linemen may be starting to turn the corner in the passing game. Let’s take a deep dive into the game film to see why we might be able to see this new version of Powers.
More film reviews:
The big picture
The Denver Broncos had 29 passing plays. 19 of those were drop backs, 7 of them were play-action, and three of them were screens. Russell Wilson also scrambled three times over the course of the game.
On these 29 pass protection snaps, Ben Powers would give up zero sacks, zero quarterback hits, and zero pressures. To put it plainly, the Chiefs did not do a single successful thing in the pass rush department against Ben Powers. This was a strong showing by the former Baltimore Raven and someone who was in desperate need of a big game.
Another thing that I would like to note is I love the awareness that Powers showed all game long. Constantly you would see him on a double team in pass protection with Cushenberry but he would have his eyes on the B gap or to Bolles. He was always looking to see if he could help Bolles protect the inside gap, and there were a handful of times where he would leave the defensive tackle with Cushenberry to go help Bolles and likely prevented a couple of sacks.
This is just a great example of knowing your teammates helping fill in their weaknesses and not leaving them out to dry when possible. That’s a guy you love to play beside.
Grade-wise, Ben Powers managed to score the first perfect score of the season. Garett Bolles got close against the Bears, but Powers didn’t even record a single ‘meh’ play grade. Overall he had zero ‘great’ blocks, 29 ‘good’ blocks, and zero ‘bad’ blocks. Of course, this means that, according to the RGS, Powers finished with 29 points out of a possible 29, or 100%.
Let’s take a look at some specific plays.
Let’s take a look at when Russell Wilson takes a big hit on a blitz and see why Powers made the right decision.
The rule of thumb for the offensive line in pass protection, for those who are unaware, is to block the inside gap/ defender first. The quickest path to the quarterback is the inner gap, so the offensive line makes the defense have to go around the edge. At least that’s what happens on paper. It’s harder to make this read in a game environment.
Powers makes the right read on this play as there is a blitzing backer right over the center Lloyd Cushenberry, and there is a defensive tackle lined up in a 1 technique on Powers (his helmet is on the inside shoulder of the OG), so Powers correctly chooses the man to the inside of him. The blitzer of the B gap is not his responsibility. If anything, it’s Bolles. But that’s a whole other story and not an easy read to make for him either.
No matter what, there was going to be a free rusher on the left side of the offensive line and Wilson is just going to have to get the ball out, and that is something that he should recognize that pre-snap.
Ben Powers also did a solid job taking over blocks.
This is an example of the Chiefs showing four pass rushers, but then the left defensive end drops into pass coverage with the middle linebacker rushing after the snap. This is a defensive play that is seen semi-often. It allows the defense to still have seven defenders in pass coverage while being able to rush four, and this sort of pass rush can lead to more confusion than a straight-up four-man rush does.
In this play, the defensive tackle attacks the left A gap and the linebacker rushes the right A gap. Powers and Cushenberry have a solid hand off of defenders and Powers seamlessly takes over the defensive tackle. This was made easy due to Powers getting hip-to-hip with Cushenberry and staying at the same level. This is something that is achieved with time and reps with the offensive linemen beside you. This is an encouraging sign that the offensive line may be finally starting to gel.
And the last clip we’ll take a look at is Powers against a bull rush.
Powers is a strong guy, and that can be seen here. The good part of this block is not the first couple of steps Powers takes. He clearly gets driven back initially. But the highlight here is how he recognizes that he is getting pushed back and then responds accordingly. As I have mentioned in the previous weeks, the way to defeat the bull rush is by sinking your hips, maintaining good hand placement on the chest plate, and driving the insteps of your feet into the ground and getting your hips into the play.
Powers does all of this and you can see a noticeable shift in pad level and how he works his hips into the block. When he does this, there is a noticeable change of pace of the speed in which he is being driven backwards.
Borderline textbook blocking here.
Ben Powers has been teetering on the edge of being called a bad signing to this point. He has not been as bad as Mike McGlinchey has been, but he hasn’t been great in the passing game either. This is the kind of performance that can start to drive all doubt away.
This game was a very encouraging showing of what Powers can do for the Broncos against a front seven that is arguably one of the better ones in the league right now. And that front seven will be better the next time the Broncos face off against the Chiefs with newly added free agent Frank Clark.