Javonte Williams had his best game of the season on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He would rack up 82 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 21-yard run, which was good enough for 5.5 yards per carry.
He looked good, explosive, and closer to his pre-injury self. But I have to ask: how big of a role did the offensive line play in this breakout game? Let’s take a look at how the offensive line held up in every carry Javonte Williams got.
Before we start though, let’s highlight Llyod Cushenberry III and Garett Bolles for their performances in the passing game. Bolles had 31 pass-blocking snaps against the Packers and gave up zero sacks or pressures. And Cushenberry has had 60 pass-blocking snaps over the last two games and has given up zero sacks or pressures. That’s some pretty great stuff.
The big picture
The Denver Broncos had Javonte Williams officially run the ball 15 times against the Packers. He technically had 16 carries, but one that went for a touchdown was called back due to a holding call against Quinn Bailey, who was serving as an extra blocker on the play. This would be the only penalty against the offensive line over the course of plays we’ll be looking at today.
In these 15 carries, Williams would rack up 29 yards before contact, or 1.9 yards before contact per carry. He would be tackled behind the line of scrimmage once.
Grade-wise, I gave the offensive line zero ‘great’ blocks, five ‘good’ blocks, eight ‘meh’ blocks, and two ‘bad’ blocks. This would result in a total score of 9 out of 15, or 60%. And I know that my grades for the whole line will be a lot more subjective than when I grade just one player, so let’s get into things a little deeper so you can see why I gave them these grades.
Essentially the play here is just Iso right. You are going to have the right tackle and right guard double-teaming on the defensive tackle up to the right inside linebacker. The center and left guard double team up to the left inside linebacker, and the left tackle has an iso block on the left end. Everyone does their job well here. Well, maybe except for the tight end that’s blocking the right end, but we’re not concerned by him right now.
Now, the line was likely aided by the linebackers shooting their gaps so quickly that they ended up getting caught in the mess at the line of scrimmage. If they didn’t bite so quickly the offensive line would have had to work up to them and pass off their double teams, something that causes plays to either live or die based on how successful and efficient those blocks are. But to give them credit, it does look like those handoffs were done perfectly at the line of scrimmage.
The best, and most important, block done here is the seal by McGlinchey. He down blocks onto the defensive tackle and has the correct body position to where he is walling off the defender from the rushing lane. He accomplishes this by swinging his hips around the defensive tackle after making initial contact. Meinerz also does a good job of seeing that backer and taking him over.
Let’s also quickly give Brandon Johnson some credit here for his second-level block on #25. That’s some great blocking for a wide receiver.
This was so close to being a ‘good’ to ‘great’ play. And I feel like I might be a little harsh with deeming this play just a ‘meh’, but it’s my grades so I get to make the rules I guess.
The blocking from five of the six linemen on this play was great (counting Bailey who is the extra blocker on the right side). Ben Powers gets a sweet pancake, Lloyd Cushenberry III dominates the linebacker over the top of him and drives him back a good five yards, and Meinerz and McGlinchey get some solid push on the right side. The problem here is the failure of Garett Bolles which ruins the entire play.
The defensive tackle that he needs to block slants inside. This is something that Bolles should be expecting in a situation like this as defenses typically run a pinch play when the offense is expected to run inside. Bolles fails to gain proper inside leverage on the defender and gets beat across his face.
I think he was doomed from the start. His footwork is too lateral and he is keeping his shoulders square with the line of scrimmage. What he should’ve done is take an angled step with his right foot and turn his shoulders to the inside slightly. That would have given him a better chance to beat the defender to the inside and would have allowed Bolles to maintain proper leverage.
You know exactly why I graded this play ‘bad’. Mike McGlinchey looks downright horrible here. He is catching rather than attacking, takes a weak step, and just kind of hops into place, and then he lunges and completely whiffs. This is all the stuff I see from the junior varsity players at the school I coach at. This is awful. And it results in Bolles, who should be pulling up to linebacker, to have to try and correct for McGlinchey’s mistake.
This was also another mistake on this play because Bolles should have just gone up to backer like he was supposed to. But I can understand why he would be confused as to who to block.
Since this play is a B gap play, that means that the last thing McGlinchey can do is get beat to his inside. The way I would have blocked this up if I were him would be to take an ‘I’ step (a straight-forward step upfield) to put myself in a position where I get inside leverage from the start. And then I would work out from there. The defensive end is in a wide alignment and is already doing half my job for me. McGlinchey should be playing this inside-out (taking the inside gap and then working out to the defensive end). Instead, he takes a weak step and keeps that B gap open, instead of closing the door on it at the start of the play. And then he lunges instead of keeping his hips and base underneath him. This just seems lazy to me.
While the offensive line had a pretty good day as a whole, the ‘meh’ example was pretty accurate for all eight plays I deemed to be so. It was typically just one or two linemen that made the whole play look bad. There wasn’t really a complete failure up front during this game. But that’s the nature of this position. Everyone has to be doing their job well.
What I am most excited about right now though is how well the interior offensive line has been playing. Powers has stepped his game up as of late. Llyod Cushenberry III has seemingly turned into the center that this franchise hasn’t had in a while. And Quinn Meinerz has been one of the best offensive guards in the league in the run game this year.
There’s a lot to be happy about. It seems like the coaching from Sean Payton and Zach Strief is starting to click.