The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has been quite dominant in the past three games. Quarterback Andrew Luck has not been sacked in 160 consecutive drop backs which started after a sack in the first quarter against the New England Patriots in Week 6. On the ground, the line has been just as stellar. The team has averaged 170 yards rushing per game the last three weeks and Marlon Mack has benefitted greatly from the revamped offensive line.
Leading the way up front is a litany of high draft picks. Former first round pick and starting center Ryan Kelly is having his best season as a pro. Rookies Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith are proving that they well worth the investment this past April. Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo has been back to his old self since returning from injury in Week 7.
The biggest surprise however has been Mark Glowinski filling in at right guard.
The player known famously throughout the preseason for his miscues against the Seahawks, Glowinski has proven himself to be a worthy starter the last three weeks. Filling in for the injured Matt Slauson, Glowinski has proven himself to be an upgrade at the position. He offers great strength and mobility that the former starter just did not possess earlier in the year.
In this piece, I’m going to take an in-depth look at Glowinski on film and show you all where he has excelled this season. I’ll also be looking at some of his miscues and areas that he can improve in as the season progresses.
Pull blocks are something that Head Coach Frank Reich has desperately wanted to use more of this season. His former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are known for getting their lineman on the move with plenty of wham and pull type plays. With Nelson adjusting to NFL play and Slauson not being that type of player, Coach Reich was not able to call as many pull plays early in the season. With Glowinski in the line up though, he has a big, mobile lineman who can excel in these situations.
Here is one rep with Glowinski out in space. His first step back off the line is quick and he is able to get out in front of the play in a hurry. He closes the gap between him and the corner in a hurry and aims his block very well. Glowinski does his job on this play by sealing the edge with this pull block. Unfortunately the play is blown up by Braden Smith missing his block inside.
The next rep is phenomenal work by Glowinski on the pull. This is a very quick timing play and everything hinges on Glowinski’s ability to get to the edge in time and open up the hole. Glowinski is able to do just that as he takes the free edge rusher completely out of the play with a good block. Mack is able to get up field with a lot of open field as a result.
The big gain on this next rep is a direct result of Glowinski’s pull block. Glowinski is tasked with getting out to the edge and blocking Bill’s cornerback Tre’Davious White. He is able to reach the block in time and completely take White out of the play, resulting in a huge gain for Mack along the sideline. Glowinski’s ability to pull and get out in space on these plays has helped open up the Colts’ rushing attack.
Getting to the Second Level
A key aspect to run blocking for offensive lineman is the ability to get to the second level. Run plays hinge on the fact that running backs should be able to make defensive backs miss in space. It is vital in a successful rushing attack that the offensive lineman are able to get to the linebackers so the running back can have that one on one opportunity with a defensive back. Glowinski has excelled in this area, especially in the game against the Buffalo Bills.
On this rep, Glowinski has nobody lined up in front of him. So his assignment is to get to the second level and block athletic linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Glowinski is able to reach the second level and make a good block on Edmunds, effectively taking him out of the play. He also drives him roughly 5 yards or so back after engaging which is a nice way to finish the rep.
Here is another example of Glowinski climbing to the second level. Here he is able to get a chip on the defensive tackle before engaging Edmunds down the field. He is able to get his head in front of Edmunds and effectively drive him across the field and out of the play. This is a very difficult block for Glowinski as he needs to take the defender with inside position away from the ball carrier. He is able to keep his feet moving though and give Mack a small cutback lane right behind him.
Another rep where Glowinski is able to get to the second level and take Edmunds out of the play. Here he does a great job of keeping his hand on the inside rusher until Ryan Kelly has secured his block. Glowinski then climbs to block Edmunds and he drives him out of the play entirely. This was a dominant performance by Glowinski in run blocking and was one of the many reasons why the team was able to rush for so many yards against a very good Bills’ defense.
If you ask any offensive line expert what their favorite trait is in lineman, most will say the ability to finish blocks. With players like Smith, Kelly, and Nelson along the front, the Colts obviously value this ability in their lineman. Glowinski has brought that same mentality to his game in his starts this season as well.
On this rep here, Glowinski is able to bury Oakland Raider’s defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. Hurst, a player who many analysts considered a first round talent back in April, is completely over matched by the strength of Glowinski. He is able to get inside on Hurst and drive him to the ground. This type of play is what wears down a defense and establishes a tone for the whole game.
This next rep is a great play by Glowinski to keep the penetrating linebacker from getting to the running back. He is initially blocking the defensive tackle but he then notices Bill’s linebacker Matt Milano attempting to shoot up the middle gap. Glowinski then comes off his block to get Milano and bury him before he can get through the gap. Again, finishing blocks like this sets a tone for the entire game when the Colts are running the ball.
Up to this point, all the clips that I have shown have been examples of Glowinski in run blocking. In pass blocking, he has been really solid as well. His best traits have been keeping a sturdy base, great hand placement, and guiding defenders well with strong hands. Once he gets his hands inside on an interior rusher, the rep is effectively finished.
In this first rep, Glowinski is able to manipulate Hurst throughout the block. Hurst makes the initial mistake of allowing Glowinski to get inside hand position on his pads. Glowinski uses this to his advantage as he grabs hold of Hurst’s pads and does not let go. Hurst attempts to get off the block to no avail. With a strong base and powerful hands to keep Hurst controlled, Glowinski wins this rep.
On this next rep, Glowinski initially loses the hand battle as the defensive tackle is able to get inside on him. Glowinski is then able to regain his leverage by anchoring well and using his natural strength. He is helped out by the defensive tackle stopping his feet but the initial anchor along with Glowinski’s strength is able to get him the win on this rep. The result is Luck having enough time to find Mack for a wide open touchdown.
This last pass block rep is great diagnoses of the stunt. He passes off the interior rusher to Braden Smith and is then able to work back inside on the stunting edge rusher. I like how he keeps his hand on both rushers until Smith has his guy before refocusing to the edge rusher. Perfectly played stunt blocking by these two here and it really shows the budding chemistry between the two.
There honestly have not been too many negatives in Glowinski’s game from what I’ve seen. I would like to see better hand placement in pass protection at times but that flaw has been pretty rare from him thus far. He needs to do a better job of finding work in pass pro and in run blocking. There are too many plays where he is left not blocking anyone and standing still on the play.
Here Glowinski is easily manipulated by a strong rush by Leonard Williams. Williams executes a push-pull move that leaves Glowinski grabbing air on the play. Going forward, Glowinski will need to establish inside position sooner on reps like this and grab hold on Williams’ pads so he can’t be easily discarded like this.
This next rep is one of the reps where I’d like Glowinski to get a hat on a defender. The play call is a reverse and the play is quickly blown up in the backfield. Glowinski should have his head up field looking for a player to block but instead he looks into the backfield and sees the play getting blown up. I’d prefer for him to still try to make contact with a defender to at least establish a physical tone on a defensive back here.
Mark Glowinski has been a wonderful surprise for the Colts the last three weeks. He is a very good run blocker who is consistently getting to the second level on pulls and regular run plays. As a pass blocker, he does a good job of limiting mistakes with strong hands and a good base. He anchors very well and when he is able to get inside position on an interior rusher, he almost always wins the rep.
Now he can stand to improve in some areas though. I’d like him to find more work in both the run game and pass game. He is great when his assignment is right in front of him but he needs to improve at adjusting on the fly. I’d also like to see him perform better against top competition. He struggled against Leonard Williams in the matchup against the Jets. This weekend against the Jaguars will be a great test for him.
Overall I’m very impressed with Glowinski though. He has come a long way from his Seattle days and looks to have developed into an effective starter. He is not the strongest point of this revamped offensive line but him showing to be a solid starter makes it a line with no true weakness. If Glowinski can continue this strong play throughout the rest of the season, he will be a must sign free agent this offseason.