While our film room looks at the offensive line have placed a great deal of emphasis on analyzing pass blocking, the last two games have seen the run game get more attention. It was clear from the film that Reich and Sirianni are more comfortable running left, as they should be, but Smith did have opportunities to impact runs to the right side of the line as well.
This isn’t an big impact block for Smith but he does work his way into position to seal the linebacker away from the running lane. He is help by a poor read here but we will take any win we can get from Smith in space at the second level at this point.
As we have noted already, he will need to continue developing as a blocker when he is required to take angles and seal, particularly in the interior.
In our initial film room piece, looking at Smith’s biggest plays in both phases, we pointed out a poor block on Marlon Mack’s long run to the left. We noted that it is odd to point out a bad block on a big play.
This is a similar play call with Nyheim Hines in the backfield. In the second pause, you can see that Smith takes a better angle to get initial leverage. While he doesn’t stonewall the defender, he wins. The defensive lineman had no chance to impact the play.
Smith carries over his comfort level blocking against edge rushers to his outside seal blocks. He has shown on numerous occasions a natural ability to allow the defender to run themselves too deep into the backfield and the patience and discipline to rotate his body, keep his feet moving and shove the defender well out of the running lane.
If Mark Glowinski can win his block on these plays, Smith’s ability to seal will create nice lanes for the backs.
This is nearly identical to the previous play. The defender looks foolish and ends up on the ground.
Our final Braden Smith run blocking highlight shows him help Glowinski with a chip and release to the second level. He seals Matt Milano inside and sets up Mack with a chance to to one-on-one with a defensive back at the second level. Unfortunately, Mack gets tripped up on Ryan Hewitt’s pull block on the edge.
I am both humored and impressed by Chester Rogers in this clip. The receivers are being taught to block players on the run by throwing their body into them with a hip check and spinning away so they back into them. This technique is taught to avoid a blocking in the back penalty, as it is illegal for a player to extend their hands into the back of a defender.
It has been effective numerous times this year, including on Marlon Mack’s dump-off touchdown reception.
Smith displays the same strengths and weaknesses as a run blocker as he does in pass protection. He has work to do at the second level, blocking in space and he should continue working on ways to put himself into better position with his angles at the snap. However, he is particularly comfortable on sealing defenders on the edge.
As we noted at the start, there is clearly a preference to run left. This shouldn’t be viewed as a lack of faith in Smith so much as a great deal of confidence in the left side of the line. Who can blame the coaching staff for choosing Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, and Ryan Kelly as the preferred canvas when they draw up runs?