Heading into the Sunday night match-up against the Titans, the Colts learned that they would be without their Pro Bowl Alternate center Ryan Kelly due to a neck injury. The good news was that they would be returning their starting guard Mark Glowinski, who missed the last few games with an ankle injury. The biggest concern was if the ankle injury would effect his mobility against the Titans.
Glowinski has been an excellent addition to the Colts’ offensive line since taking over as the starting guard when Matt Slauson was placed on IR. With an impressive blend of power and mobility, he has been like Quenton Nelson Lite on the right side of the line and has played a huge factor in the group elevating its game since the bye week.
Glowinski returned to form against the Titans, despite being called for three penalties in the game. He didn’t look too hampered by the ankle injury and Coach Frank Reich didn’t limit him in any way.
One of Glowinski’s biggest strengths is his ability to get out in space and pave the way for running backs. Early in the game, Coach Reich showed no hesitation in getting him into the open field despite the injured ankle. He gets out ahead of the screen pass and negates linebacker Wesley Woodyard twenty yards down the field. It may not have been an elite block but it was a positive sign to see him able to move in space like this.
One of the reasons the Colts’ offensive line has been playing at an extremely high level lately is their awareness in pass protection. They are rarely surprised by blitzes. This play is no exception as Glowinski recognizes the blitz early and stonewalls the cornerback. The awareness to keep a hand on Evan Boehm’s blocking assignment, while keeping his eyes up to survey for blitzers is excellent. This play speaks to the chemistry and communication up front and is a big reason why Luck has rarely been hit this season.
The next clip is perhaps Glowinski’s best run block of the game, despite being called back for a hold on Boehm. Glowinski begins by double teaming the defensive tackle so that Boehm can gain establish the block. While engaged in the double team, he surveys to spot defenders coming up to fill the run lane. When linebacker Jayon Brown attacks, Glowinski comes off the double team and takes Brown out of the play. Brown sheds the initial block attempt but Glowinski keeps his hands inside and drives Brown into the ground for a pancake. Its a shame that Boehm held as it certainly would have been a highlight for Glowinski.
A common staple of Frank Reich’s offense has been trap plays and plays that involve pulling guards and tight ends. Here, Reich pulls Ryan Hewitt and Glowinski to open the lane for Marlon Mack up the gut. Defensive end Harold Landry is left unblocked initially with the expectation that Glowinski will arrive on time to establish the block. He does an excellent job of getting out in front of Mack, engaging the block with Landry, and flipping his hips to seal the running lane.
This is the most controversial— and the most frustrating— penalty called against the Colts. First, Glowinski does miss a big block that could have resulted in a touchdown— all Wilkins had to do was beat the safety one-on-one if he makes this block. It was a bad whiff and limited the yards that could have been gained. However, the penalty call was horrible. Tripping is typically called if a player intentionally whips their legs out to impede a player when blocking. Glowinski simply misses his block and his legs get in the way of the defender. Nothing indicates an intent to trip. An absolutely atrocious call by the refs.
Glowinski dominated as a pass blocker in Tennessee. One of his best attributes is how nimble he is for his size and strength. Look at how he completely controls defensive lineman Austin Johnson. He is able to get inside Johnson’s pads early and maintains control throughout the play. With an excellent base and footwork, he keeps Johnson out of the pocket and gives Andrew Luck time to deliver this dart to Dontrelle Inman.
The ability to flip your hips in the run game is so vital for offensive lineman. Here, Braden Smith helps Glowinski on a double-team of defensive tackle Darius Kilgo. Smith releases once he believes Glowinski has control and moves to the next level. Glowinski loses control of his hand placement and he starts losing ground to the defensive tackle. Knowing the run play is coming right behind him, he flips his hips to give Mack enough of a crease to squeeze through. This heads up play makes was key for a big run. Honorable mention to Braden Smith as his blocks were also key.
This is another pretty bad penalty call. Glowinski is engaged with defensive lineman Datone Jones and initially gets really good hand position inside the shoulders. From that position, he can grab the defender’s shoulder pads. Jones attempts to shed inside when he sees the back run up the gut and Glowinski ends up putting him on the ground. It does look like a hold on this replay but it is a difficult call on a lineman who is engaged with a defender who simply falls down. I think this should have been a no call but it’s better than the tripping call.
Glowinski finished the game with two of his better run blocks. First is this pull block on rookie linebacker Rashaan Evans. He pulls across the line and engages Evans in the hole. Evans makes the mistake of stopping his feet and Glowinski drives him into the ground. Glowinski is a big, mauling lineman so stopping your feet against him is the last thing you want to do. Just another example of the bully mentality this line has played with all year.
The final rep of the game is a good one as Glowinski opens up a huge runing lane for Mack to score the game clinching touchdown. The call is a stretch to his side, requiring him to kick out the defensive end to open a cutback lane up the middle. He knocks defensive end Matt Dickerson a good three to four yards off his spot with his initial push and gives Mack enough room to score. Pure brute strength here. Great way to cap off a solid performance.
Mark Glowinski has been a key cog in the Colts’ offensive line. His brute strength, combined with nimble feet and above average athleticism, make him important to success up front. Sunday may not have been his best game but don’t let the penalties fool you, he had another solid game against the Titans.
Heading into the playoffs, I expect him to get better as he fully recovers from the ankle injury that caused him to miss some time. There were moments when he looked a little slower and a bit off balance that may have been due to the ankle.
Overall, it was hard to find many flaws in his performance. He continues to prove himself worthy of a new contract in the coming off-season. With Ryan Kelly set to return for this huge playoff match-up, I expect another dominant performance by this offensive line.