For the second part of our weekly look into Quenton Nelson’s preseason rookie snaps, we’ll change the focus to pass blocking. We’ll take a snap-by-snap look to identify where Nelson can improve and point out snaps where he clearly wins against the defense.
Nelson passes off the inside defender to tackle Le’Raven Clark and has to recover to pick up the stunt. By the time he gets into position he is too vertical and gets jolted back into the pocket. He is off-balance and stumbling backward when the defender releases around Ryan Kelly and gets pressure in Andrew Luck’s face, forcing him to throw the ball away.
Nelson was in on 22 pass block snaps against the Ravens. The only other pass play I could find where Nelson didn’t win, arguably, is this play. I’ll openly admit to you that he doesn’t lose here and, frankly, Brissett feels no pressure up the middle.
The only reason it is here is because Nelson is beat to the inside when the defender clubs his inside shoulder. The good news is the Ryan Kelly is right next to him and so it is entirely possible that Nelson allowed him inside leverage. Still, it is fair to recognize that the defender gained the “advantage” on Nelson at the snap.
Of course, this means that 20 of 22 snaps were close to something like this down. Here, Nelson takes on the defender and keeps his balance. He maintains leverage throughout and forces the defender out of the pocket. Luck has plenty of room to step up and fire the ball to Jack Doyle.
This is another example of one-on-one dominance. Nelson essentially gives no ground and doesn’t give up any leverage to the outside. He engages the defender and neutralizes him. Unfortunately, Le’Raven Clark makes a bad choice here. He stays in to help Nelson when he should be sliding back to help Doyle who was chipping on the edge and releasing.
This play is a breath of fresh air for Colts fans. Nelson doesn’t just control the play at the snap and maintain leverage, he holds his man for more than 4 seconds, allowing Brissett plenty of time to stand in the pocket and get rid of the ball. It has been quite rare for a quarterback in Indianapolis to have four or more seconds to scan the field and allow routes to develop.
Once again, the defender tries to force his way back into the pocket. Nelson maintains his balance and continues churning his feet. Luck has three seconds with a clean pocket to step into his throw. As Luck gets back into rhythm and establishes timing with his receivers, plays like this will result in first downs.
This is one of the best single game pass blocking performances I’ve broken down for the Colts. On 20 of 22 plays, Nelson either didn’t allow pressure or played an important role in allowing the pass to get away cleanly. On one of the 22 pass plays, he still didn’t allow pressure but arguably got beat to his inside shoulder.
If he can keep the pocket clean at left guard with this kind of consistency during the regular season, it bodes well for Andrew Luck’s return.