Back in 2021, we all came to know Quinn Meinerz as the lineman from a D3 school who got an invite to the Senior Bowl and likes to show off his gut. We now know him as the most consistent and productive piece to the puzzle which is the Denver offensive line.
Meinerz’s run blocking is filled with solid technique, tons of strength, and a deep desire to dominate the man who stands across from him. Let’s take a look at his performance against the Washington Commanders to see why he has earned the highest run-blocking grade of any guard according to PFF.
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The big picture
The Denver Broncos had 20 designed runs against the Commanders. Nine times they would run to Meinerz’s side and three times Meinerz would pull.
The Broncos would average 4.4 yards per carry (not including the two quarterback sneaks or scrambles by Wilson). Running behind Meinerz they would average 4.5 yards per carry (this includes the plays to his side and plays he would be the lead puller on. This also included a 6-yard carry on a pull that was called back due to a holding call on Bolles). The league average for yards per carry this year is about 4.2 yards per carry for reference.
I graded him at a 90% success rate on his blocks. He had 15 “good” blocks, three “alright” blocks, and two “bad” blocks. “Good” to me is a solid block that either results in a drive of the defender, a successful reach block, or a double-team that results in a defensive lineman and a linebacker being blocked. An “alright” block was a block where it was poor technique but still ended up being good enough to get the job done. A “ba” block was one where he failed to make a block.
It is also good to note that the majority of Meinerz’s snaps had him blocking Daron Payne, one of the more prolific run defenders in the NFC.
Constants from the game
The best blocks from Meinerz came predominantly on double teams. He was effective in the initial block on the defensive lineman and came off to pick up the linebacker flawlessly on most occasions. In fact, none of his bad blocks came from double teams.
Let’s look at one example here:
I slowed the footage down a little to give you a better look at what is going on. On this play, the Broncos are running a simple inside zone to the right. This is a play designed to hit mostly in the B gap, but the running back can also hit the A or C. Meinerz will be double team up to the play side backer with Cushenberry.
From the start, Meinerz takes a strong ‘A’ step into the side of the DT, knocking him off balance and into the lap of Cushenberry. From there Meinerz would come off the block and cleanly wall off the linebacker from the run by swinging his butt into the running lane (it helped that he partially drove the DT in front of the backer). There is a massive hole here in the B gap (McGlinchey also had a solid block here too).
It’s hard to block this play up better than that.
Quinn Meinerz also had a handful of strong reach blocks over the course of the game. A reach block, in my opinion, is one of the hardest blocks that an offensive lineman has to make on a semi-consistent basis. It requires a great first step, speed, and strength, even more so than most blocks do, especially when the defensive lineman is aligned to the play side.
Let’s take a look at my favorite reach block from the game. It just so happens to be the first run play of the game, when the defensive line is at its peak, cardio and speed-wise.
I think the thing that I love most about this block is the amount of fight that Meinerz is showing over the course of this play. The run is to the left and the defensive tackle that Meinerz has to block is to his left. This is a tough block to make, but Meinerz makes it look almost easy.
It all starts, like I said earlier, with the first step he takes. While it is hard to see in this clip, Meinerz takes a good drop, or ‘J’, step to give himself space to overtake the DT and beat him to a point. He also changes where his hips are facing, which allows him to essentially run in front of the DT.
And while he doesn’t have great hand placement originally, he removes his left hand and instead rips his right hand across the DT and works his hips in front of him as well. This is textbook. Ripping across the face of the DT is what you drill in practice. He goes on to finish the block by working himself completely in front of the DT and walling him off from the play.
Quinn Meinerz’s game was not perfect. See this example:
A total whiff. There is no way around that fact. That’s what happens when you fire off with your eyes down and lunge at the defensive lineman. Bad technique and best and just lazy at worst.
And, of course, there was another play where he whiffed and a couple of others where he had a sloppy block that still works. But don’t let these handful of plays detract from the rest of the game. Quinn Meinerz is rightfully ranked as the 2nd-best offensive guard in the league right now (per PFF), and it’s great seeing him get the credit that he deserves.
He is, by far, the most competent and consistent lineman on the team. He is mostly dominant in the run game and is pretty solid in the pass game. Joining Denver as a third-round draft pick in 2021, he has become a cornerstone of the team. I’m beyond happy about the player that he has developed into.