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Colts Scouting Journal: Julian Blackmon in Cover 2 and Mark Glowinski’s Hot Start

Highlighting two big time contributors going forward

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Colts fans! It is a new season here at Stampede Blue and I have decided to start a new running series. This series will be called the Colts Scouting Journal and will focus on a few different topics every week. You all know I dive deep into film so I decided to get a tad bit creative with this series.

The basic premise is each week we will have a journal entry that talks about one schematic aspect of this Colts team (ranging from offensive plays and philosophies to defensive tendencies) and a Colts player’s top trait or move. The idea is to have a full journal of schematic tendencies and top moves by players by the end of the season.

In our second Scouting Journal, we will be looking at Julian Blackmon’s play in the cover two from this past week while also looking at Mark Glowinski’s hot start to the season.

Julian Blackmon in Cover 2

Before we jump into Blackmon’s film from this past Sunday, let’s talk briefly about the Colts’ new starting safety. Julian Blackmon was having an outstanding Senior season before an ACL injury in the Bowl game cut it a bit short. Still, he was a highly regarded prospect for quite a few reasons. He was extremely versatile at Utah (played both cornerback and safety), is an outstanding athlete, and was a leader for a team that was simply loaded with NFL talent.

For me though, I think what really helps his transition to the NFL and to now being a starter is the coaching he received at Utah. I talked to Blackmon’s college teammate Jaylon Johnson (2nd round pick CB for the Bears) during the draft process and here is how he described the Utah coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball:

They wanted us to be students of the game and to know exactly what we are doing and what we are looking at and how to take advantage of certain tendencies. They were very detail oriented when it came to the game and when it came to studying. They prepared us every day and they were on us every day. In terms of being versatile and learning different positions and being a leader to bring other people along and being a professional, they taught us a lot.

Knowing that Blackmon was taught at the college level multiple schemes and positions helps to understand why the Colts were so high on him in the draft process and why his debut this Sunday was so good. Let’s look at the film though and see what we can find.

The reason why we are focusing on Blackmon’s play in Cover 2 from this past weekend is because all of his big plays came from this defense. Look at his biggest play of the game below. He is in his deep half in two high and gets a great jump on the ball. He flies downhill on the tight end post and is able to separate ball from man and force the incompletion. We really haven’t seen this level of closing speed from a safety in Indy since Malik Hooker in his rookie season. That athleticism along with his willingness to hit can really work in this defense.

Blackmon also made an impressive play on the ball to force Khari Willis’ interception at the end of the first half. This is likely a cover two call with Willis either biting hard on the deep in to his side or Willis having a slight miscommunication and thinking he was supposed to be a buzz defender on the play. Either way, Blackmon executes his assignment well as he carries the deep over route across the field. As Willis catches up in trail, the two have great unspoken chemistry to know that Blackmon should play the ball and Willis is playing the man. Blackmon tips the pass and Willis comes up with the interception.

While the Colts don’t play as much Cover 2 as most people seem to think, it is still their base defense. Having a safety like Blackmon who is athletic, a ballhawk, and physical should lead to a good starter for this role. There will be some learning curves as he adjusts to NFL speed and concepts but the potential is sky high. Even as he diagnoses this play a tad late, he still makes a big hit to nearly force an incompletion. He is going to be really good for this defense going forward.

Mark Glowinski’s Hot Start

One player who everyone in this fanbase loves to hate is Mark Glowinski. I get why, on an offensive line of either elite talents or promising youngsters, he is pretty average. What most people don’t understand is that is extremely hard to have an average starter on the offensive line, let alone have an average starter be your worst starter.

While he has had some up and down play in the past, he has started out this season incredibly. He hasn’t allowed a sack through two games and has only allowed four pressures. On top of that, he has been outstanding in the run game as he currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ fourth highest run blocker in the league right now. As a matter of fact, PFF currently has Glowinski ranked as the third best guard in the NFL through two games.

Turn on the film and you can see why he has received such high marks. He is destroying players in the run game which has led to a sky high grade. Here he gets great hand position on the crashing defensive tackle and drives him out of the hole. This leads to one of the bigger runs of the day for the Colts in week two.

We are used to seeing Quenton Nelson move people with ease in the run game but Glowinski is driving players off the ball. Look at this next play here as he drives the defensive tackle 6-7 yards off the line.

Run blocking has always been Glowinski’s best area but he looks much better than he ever has so far this year. Hopefully this can keep up against a Jets defense that is surprisingly decent against the run.

Now let’s look at a few reps in the passing game. Before you avert your eyes like normal, he has been outstanding here too outside of a few miscommunications on blitzes and stunts. He locked up his match-up in week one in former first round pick Taven Bryan and held him in check all day long. I don’t think Bryan won a single pass rush in this game. Look at how Glow effortlessly tosses Bryan back on this block.

Overall, it has been an outstanding start for Glowinski. He has looked confident and strong and has limited a lot of the mistakes that has hurt him over the past two seasons. If he can keep this play up, the Colts will have the best offensive line in the NFL. He has been great and hopefully this carries into the game on Sunday against the Jets.