Things are beginning to look up, Stampede Blue! Welcome to the third installment of my weekly offensive line film breakdown! This past week's game against the Browns was a bit of a peculiar case, as, do to injuries, I had to decide which players to watch. I ultimately chose to evaluate all players that are starters or that have a legitimate chance of becoming starters. This means that I did not grade Jeff Linkenbach, Joe Reitz, or any of the tight ends this week (though the starters will certainly be included in future articles).
(If you have read my work before, feel free to skip down to the evaluations).
For those unfamiliar with my grading system, here is how it works. Each play, I slow down the tape in order to evaluate each starting lineman, giving him a positive (+) grade if he successfully completed his task, or a negative (-) grade if he failed to do so. In order to give a final grade, the total number of (+) snaps is divided by the total number of plays. However, there are instances that I give an "asterisk" grade for any of three reasons:
- The lineman 'technically' completed his task, but he could have done so better.
- I, as an evaluator, failed to make a decision as to whether the grade was positive or negative.
- The lineman started the play well and ended badly or vice versa.
If an asterisk grade is received, the play is disregarded from a player's final grade, as to avoid it affecting him positively or negatively. Let's begin, shall we?
(All final grades are based on a 99-90: A, 89-80: B, 79-70: C, 69-60: D, 60-0: F Scale)
There really is not much to say about Anthony Castonzo's performance, seeing that he only played 3 snaps before exiting the game with a knee injury. He played well last week and looked on track to do so again against the Browns before he got hurt. I opted to evaluate him, anyway, but take this grade with a grain of salt, as he played only 3 snaps (one of which, I grades as an 'asterisk').
Final Grade: 2/2, 100%, A
The starting left guard had a turn-around performance for the ages on Saturday. In past articles, I had called into question his ability to handle a bull-rushing defensive tackle on his own, and against the Browns, Thomas completely silenced me. He was quick to get out of his stance, effective pulling as usual, phenomenal handling rushers, and appeared to be entirely aware of everything going on. The only negative thing he did was lose his shoe.
Final Grade: 33/34, 97%, A
Samson Satele has looked consistent, if nothing else, and that's not a bad thing. Against Cleveland, Satele actually looked quite solid. He was solid in pass protection and gave maximum effort in the running game. Also, for the first time, I felt like Satele was making the correct line calls, which went a long way toward upping the overall effectiveness of the line. Unfortunately, he is simply limited by less than great agility and athleticism. Still, I think he has proven to be the Colts' best option at Center. His grade this week doesn't really reflect his play.
Final Grade: 25/34, 74%, C
I believe the Colts may have found an answer at Right Guard. Hugh Thornton is fluid, athletic, quick, and just truly nasty. In fact, I marked in my notes three times that he flattened someone in this game, and that is so refreshing to see from a Colts offensive guard. Thornton also locked up most of the match-ups he drew in pass protection. He had a couple of communication errors, but that is to be expected from a rookie. With a larger sample size, I'm sure Hugh Thornton would have had a higher final grade than this. Start this kid.
Final Grade: 21/25, 84%, B
Grading Gosder Cherilus is beginning to get a bit depressing. Why? He is not improving at all. Last week, I noted that Cherilus was having a problem shielding off counter moves from pass rushers. Two weeks ago, I saw that he had a tendency to play too high (without leverage, that is). Both of these issues remained into the third week of the preseason. On a related note, can we re-do free agency and sign Paul Kruger?
Final Grade: 21/34, 61%, D-
- The running backs finally ran decisively and found cutback lanes this week.
- The pass/run balance was set at 58% to 42% against the Browns.
- Joe Reitz is simply not athletic enough to play left tackle, but he probably deserves a roster spot.
- Jeff Linkenbach was pretty bad in this game from what I saw.
- Along these same lines, Satele went from 7/10, 70%, C- to 18/24, 75%, C when Hugh Thornton entered the game, and Gosder Cherilus improved from 4/9, 44%, F to 17/25, 68%, D+.
That's all for this week. I expect that the starters will play minimally, if at all, against the Bengals, so I will not be doing an offensive line-centered article for that game. Instead, I have a bit of a treat in store. Stay tuned, thanks for reading, and feel free to comment!