The story of the Indianapolis Colts’ over the last few games has been the improved play of the offensive line. While the group is widely seen as one of the best in the NFL, this season has been a bit of disappointment as the running game was lackluster to start the season, and star players like Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly were getting beat far more than we have ever seen.
That has seemed to change in recent weeks as the Colts are running the ball with great efficiency and the pass protection has been borderline elite with all five starters in the game (the Colts allowed just one pressure against the Raiders just a week ago). One player who I want to highlight is the perceived weak link in right guard Mark Glowinski.
Glow has always been a steady starter for the Colts but because he is not at the same level as the other stars on this line, he receives a lot more criticism than warranted. The past few weeks however have been some of the best football he has played in his career as he has been stout in the run game and has been cutting out the poor reps in pass protection. Today we are going to look at the game that Glow had on Sunday against the Texans and talk about his strong play.
Pass protection has always been a weaker point in Glow’s game. It’s not that he is bad in this area, it’s just that he has a couple of snaps a game where he gets beat by opposing players. When he lines himself up with a defender and can get his hands properly inside, he does have good reps in pass pro. Here he is lined up against the lengthy Charles Omenihu on the interior. Glow does a great job of securing the interior with his left hand and then gathering his hands on the lower hip of Omenihu to drive him away from Philip Rivers in the pocket. He also does an excellent job of staying square and balanced through the entire rep.
Glow, along with his running mate Braden Smith, are bulldozers in the run game and always have been. A big part of the Colts’ gameplan in this one was to combo block the interior defensive lineman to give running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines a couple of yards of space before meeting defenders. Look at the push that Glow and Smith are able to get on three-technique on this play. They drive him all the way back to the second level where Glow is actually able to peel off and get a bit of the linebacker to help Taylor get further into the secondary.
Combo blocks were simply huge to the run game in this one and it was what led to the ground dominance for the Colts (Taylor averaged 5.1 yards-per-carry while Hines averaged 8.6 in this game). Again just look at this push on the interior by Glow and center Ryan Kelly as they drive the defensive tackle to the second level. This interior block allows Taylor to get out to the second level with ease and create a big gain on the play.
Even on single blocks in the run game Glow was outstanding. The Colts run a stretch play to the right side and he explodes off the snap and quickly gets his hands inside on the three technique. He is able to cut him off to the outside and flip his hips to shield his defender away from the running back. This provides a huge hole that would have led to another big gain if it weren’t for a nice play by the Texans’ off-ball linebacker.
Back to pass protection and Glow was just solid as a rock all game long. No major breakdowns and he did an excellent job of keeping his head on a swivel and helping Smith with his tough matchup against JJ Watt on the outside. Here Glow helps Kelly secure his block on the interior before coming back to the outside to help Smith maintain his block when Watt tries an inside move.
This play is more of a highlight for the entire offensive line but I love the work here by Glow on the right side. The Texans are showing an all out blitz on a crucial third and short late in this game. Offensive line protection rules when the defense brings more defenders than you can block state that you have to play inside out and take the inner-most rusher and let the quarterback account for the outside rushers. Glow initially commits to the three technique to his right but quickly adjusts inside as he sees the off-ball backer mugging the A gap to blitz. Smith then comes down on the three tech and Rivers has enough time to find Trey Burton over the middle for the first down.
On the biggest play of the game, the Texans tried to create pressure by lining up JJ Watt over Glow on the interior. This has been a notoriously bad matchup in the past for Glow but here he handles it really well. He aggressively makes first-contact on the play and is able to drive Watt inside and out of his rush. This gives Rivers all the time he needs to step up and deliver a strike for a 41-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton.
Mark Glowinski has always been talked about as the weak link on this stout Colts’ offensive line but as of late he hasn’t been playing like one. He has been great in run blocking the past few weeks and we haven’t seen any of those pass protection breakdowns recently that we have seen in the past from him.
By all accounts, it appears as though the Colts’ offensive line is playing its’ best football heading into a tough matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ front. Glow has been playing great but he will have his hands full with players such as Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. Hopefully, he can keep up this high level of play and the Colts can pull off the upset this week.