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Film Room: Braden Smith Bonus Pass Blocking vs. New York Jets and Buffalo Bills

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Buffalo Bills v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We already broke down Braden Smith’s performance over the last two games and had a chance to analyze his strengths and weaknesses. We determined that he still needs to do a better job with angles on blocks and that he needs to eliminate snaps where defenders get their hands up into his chest.

In this film room, we’ll look at the other pass blocking opportunities in Smith’s first two games at right tackle. The majority of them will show his skill-set against speed rush attempts off of the edge. If he can consistently look comfortable in this area, he will be the first player on the Colts roster to do so in years.

Let’s take another look.


Some of the snaps in the remaining pass blocking reps include a defender who gets the advantage to Smith’s outside shoulder. The difference between sacks and hits on these plays is that Smith has enough balance and agility to stick with the block and keep pushing the defender out of the pocket.

Here, the defender attempts uses speed to create pressure and while he does get his hand on Luck’s throwing shoulder, he had to sell out to get there. If Smith was unable to stay with the defender through the block, this could be a sack. He does just enough to allow Luck to take one step up in the pocket and shrug off the pressure.

In the end, the defender is on the ground and Luck gets a clean pass away. Of all the remaining clips from the Jets and Bills games, this is the most challenging that wasn’t included in the original breakdown.

Smith controls the defender through Luck’s release and keeps the pocket clean. It stood out as impressive to me that the defender got his hand up into Smith’s face but he was still able to anchor and win.

This is another example of how Smith is able to sustain a block even when the defender gains outside leverage. As the defender tries to turn the corner, Luck takes one step up, while Smith pushed him another two yards into the backfield.

It is also important to note on play-action drop backs, Luck makes life more difficult for his tackles. He ends up eight yards deep in his drop-back, making him susceptible to speed rushes off of the edges. He had to step up here but the reason is partially because the defender gains outside advantage and partially because he is probably a yard or so deeper than he should be anyway. Quarterbacks often need to step into the pocket to make a throw on these deep drops.

Very similar play to above. Outside leverage doesn’t mean Smith quits. He keeps pushing the defender out of the pocket and gives Luck room to work.

No chance on this one. Smith wins from start to finish.

Another speed rushing attempt around the edge, another player where Smith forces deep into the backfield. Luck steps up into the pocket and gets away a clean throw.

This is a nice example of Smith taking on Leonard Williams, who tries to bull rush off of the edge. Smith does a nice job of anchoring and leaves plenty of space for Luck to work.

No chance. Look at Smith’s balance and footwork. He stays calm and disciplined while the defender flails around looking for an advantage.

Here is another defender selling out to create pressure on the edge and to get outside leverage. Luck is stepping into the pocket and Smith has good position, negating the failed spin move.

This play looks almost identical to the last, except that the defender keeps his balance and does a better job of setting Smith up. It took too long for the defender to make it work but Smith is beat to the inside as the ball is released.

Another rep where the defender has no chance.

And another.

There really weren’t a lot of stunts for Smith to deal with in his first two games but the ones he did face were well handled. He releases to keep Henry Anderson from affecting the play here.

This is another outside stunt that Smith does a nice job of shutting down.

Our final clip shows Smith doing work on the inside. There weren’t many passing snaps where Smith took on defenders head up but the opportunities he had were successful.


ANALYSIS

As with our first review of Smith as a pass blocker, these clips display similar traits. One could say that he is playing with fire on the edges and that facing marquee speed rushers will test him but he already shows quite a few encouraging skills. He shows a nice anchor against bull rush attempts, he looks comfortable mirroring edge rushers, he shows enough agility and sound enough footwork to maintain blocks even if the defender gains outside leverage, and he looks comfortable defeating inside moves and playing defenders head-up.

His opportunities have been continuing to work on his communication, keeping his eyes up and head on a swivel to identify free rushers, staying disciplined to keep defenders from getting their hands into his chest or up into his face and neck, and continuing to work on his ability to take good angles against defenders on blocks where he knows play direction, especially in space.

In all, as we noted before, it is an impressive showing for a rookie playing for the first time against NFL starters at a position he rarely played in college.