There is no way to sugar coat this Colts-Titans game from Sunday. Despite not having a few of the best players on the roster available, there is no excuse for how the Colts were completely dominated all game long. Luckily the Colts still have a chance at the playoffs and will be getting a few of those key players back going forward.
Transitioning to a positive aspect of the game, rookie 5th round pick Danny Pinter made his first career start at center for the team. For a player who has never snapped the ball in a live game before in his life and is considered more of a developmental prospect, I think he had a really strong first game. So today, before we truly move on from this disastrous outing, let us look at the first start for Pinter in the NFL.
Part of being an interior linemen in the NFL, especially a center, is working off combo blocks on interior defensive linemen. Typically if the offensive line can move defensive tackles off their spot and gaps, then the running back will find a lane for a solid gain. Pinter does a nice job of holding up his man for guard Mark Glowinski to come in from the side and deliver a nice hit for the pancake. If running back Jordan Wilkins was just a tad more patient then he would have been able to maneuver up the middle for a first down.
Nice combo block on the interior from Danny Pinter and Mark Glowinski. Looks like Wilkins could have picked up this first down if he waited a second later and followed Glow on the interior pic.twitter.com/o1Ex6uFsLj— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
The low snap on this play is definitely something for him to work on but everything after the snap is good. He stays square on the inside and keeps his head on a swivel despite the Titans twisting and stunting in front of him. He is able to track the defender who shoots up the middle and holds him up long enough for Philip Rivers to find Trey Burton for the score in the back of the end zone.
Nice job by Pinter here to keep his head on a swivel and shoulders square with all the stunts going on in front of him. Helps buy time for Rivers to hit Burton for the score pic.twitter.com/7KRHjcUePE— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
In recent years, the Colts have had players like Evan Boehm and Josh Andrews as backup interior offensive linemen for this team. While both were fine players, neither really possessed any type of athleticism that allowed them to get to the second level and secure blocks in space against linebackers, Here Pinter shows that he is completely different from that style as he quickly gets to that second level and cuts off the linebacker. There isn’t too much to praise on this play other than the fact that Pinter’s athleticism is on par with the rest of this team’s offensive linemen.
Unlike past interior depth players the Colts have had in Evan Boehm and Josh Andrews, Danny Pinter is a really good athlete and that allows him to climb and move in space with relative ease pic.twitter.com/HpafUpfHzf— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
The problem with going with a more athletic, project player at depth center though is the fact that he will struggle with power at the point of attack. Look at Pinter’s size compared to Glowinski and Quenton Nelson right next to him. He is noticeably smaller and still has some room to add strength to his frame. Until he is able to do that in a full offseason of work, issues like this will occasionally happen especially against top defensive tackles such as Jeffrey Simmons in this clip.
The biggest issue with Pinter right now though is he is not nearly filled out enough in his frame. Much smaller compared to Nelson and Glow right next to him. The result is plays like this where a very good DT like Jeffrey Simmons runs him right into the QB pic.twitter.com/0H9PAavU7A— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
However, something I noticed was that Pinter continued to get better throughout this game. He had some moments early where he was falling off blocks and getting moved easily by power. As the game went on, he seemed to adjust to that and was able to anchor and counter this really well. Here he has a one on one block with a good defensive tackle in DaQuan Jones. He does a great job of working his hands inside and holding up the powerful defensive tackle at the point of attack with strong grip strength. Really promising rep from a young player still developing.
Danny Pinter's best rep in pass pro from Sunday imo. Gets his hands inside and locks up a good defensive tackle in DaQuan Jones pic.twitter.com/4fbP0bDyoY— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
Looking at this next clip and we can now see Pinter’s best run block of the game. This is where his athleticism comes into play as he is able to cut off the shade technique defensive tackle on the stretch play. From here, he is able to get his hands inside, flip his hips, and continually drive his legs to finish the block. Not a true pancake since the defender tripped but a really good rep here by a young center. Looked a lot like Ryan Kelly on this play.
Good rep by Pinter on this sweep as he gets his hands inside, flips his hips, and keeps his legs driving throughout the block pic.twitter.com/G5WT5Fejzo— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
Final clip we are going to look at today but it shows Pinter’s ability to adapt throughout the game. He was struggling with power and bull rushes early but on this clip, he is prepared for it. The power doesn’t catch him off guard one bit on this block. He does lose a little bit of ground but he is able to re-anchor his base and control the block to keep the pressure off the quarterback. Far from a perfect start by Pinter but he was mostly pretty good in his first NFL game.
Really good example of Danny Pinter bracing for the bull rush and anchoring well against it. Loses some ground but is able to hold off the power despite being undersized pic.twitter.com/YqiK6cnR9q— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 30, 2020
In an atrocious game, it is nice to at least look at a rookie playing well in his first career start. For a player who was a tight end at Ball State just three years ago and having virtually no NFL offseason to prepare to play center, this is as good of a start as you can expect.
I do think an offseason would have been huge for Pinter as he would have had more reps snapping the ball and time to put on some more muscle in the weight room. However, those aren’t technical or mental flaws as they are more aspects of his game that will improve with time.
With the Colts having to sign top players on this team such as Darius Leonard, Quenton Nelson, and Braden Smith in the next offseason or two, the team will need to go cheap at a few positions. If Pinter can build off this first start and put the work in the offseason, he has all the tools to be the future starter at right guard for this team. This was a good start in what is hopefully a successful NFL career for the rookie.