The Indianapolis Colts were in a bind going into a potential win-and-in situation in Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo was put on season-ending IR with an ankle injury and his replacement Will Holden was also out with an ankle injury of his own.
Ultimately, the Colts decided to bring in tackle Jared Veldheer to start on Sunday. Veldheer is a long-time veteran in this league who performed quite well as a spot starter for the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs just last year. Coming fresh off the street and out of retirement for this game, how did he do? He was actually surprisingly good for a majority of the afternoon. Today we will look at the film and see how well he played in this one:
Straight bulldozer in the run game
I was absolutely shocked when I reviewed the film from this game and saw how well Veldheer performed in the run game. It is not that he was a bad run blocker throughout his career or anything, just that when I reviewed his past film I never saw this level of dominance up front. From the first snap in this game, he was destroying defensive linemen. On the first play of the game, he does an excellent job of reach the athletic rookie K’Lavon Chaisson and getting him on the ground while setting the edge.
Newest Colts' LT Jared Veldheer absolutely dogged K'Lavon Chaisson on his first snap of the season. Really nice reach on this outside run pic.twitter.com/hbN5tsWEfC— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 4, 2021
The beauty of veteran offensive linemen is that they know little tricks and maneuvers to find success in the league. Veldheer did a great job on this play of using the defensive lineman’s momentum against him. He first shows great athleticism for a player of his age by reaching the three-technique with ease. Once engaged, he realizes the defensive tackle has his head down trying to bull through his block. Rather than using his energy to fight off the attack, Veldheer calmly pushes down on the defensive tackle and sends him to the ground with ease.
Veldheer was a blast to watch in the run game on Sunday pic.twitter.com/HBBlXoUTSS— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 4, 2021
I was most shocked by the strength that Veldheer displayed in this game. He was dominating players at the point of attack which is crazy when you look at his frame. He is a fairly wiry offensive tackle who possesses more length and height than size. If you just watched Sunday’s game then you wouldn’t believe that at all. He reaches the three-tech again on this play (who I now know is Doug Costin), and powerfully drives him in and out of the play, creating a huge lane for running back Nyheim Hines to the outside.
Veldheer absolutely bullied this 3-tech all game long pic.twitter.com/EzWzJjlNx9— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 4, 2021
Overall it was just an outstanding game from Veldheer in the run game and he was a big reason why Jonathan Taylor was able to rush for 253 yards in this game. He should be the starter next week almost solely based on his performance in the run game just because of how good he was. Anthony Castonzo is an excellent left tackle and has been for many years but he never had the power at the point of attack to displace defenders like this. Veldheer could be huge for the Colts’ running game in Buffalo this week.
Jared Veldheer has grown man strength pic.twitter.com/4hOeshc2Sp— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 4, 2021
A bit shaky but mostly good in Pass Pro
There were a few poor moments in pass protection for Veldheer in this one but for the most part, he was solid throughout this game. One of his worst moments came when matched up with Chaisson in the first quarter. Veldheer is quick setting against the speedy pass rusher and doesn’t do anything poorly from the start. It is when Chaisson is unphased by Veldheer’s punch and when he starts bending the corner that the issues arise. Veldheer isn’t athletic enough laterally to move with this type of bend and the result is a quarterback hit on the play. If his initial punch would have hit a bit harder, he would have been fine but he simply can’t allow quick edge rushers to get this positioning on him.
The other issue I saw at times in this game was that the edge rusher he was facing could occasionally get inside and drive him back a bit. Veldheer has a very large frame so it is a big target for a good pass rusher to hit. Chaisson is able to get that long arm inside here and get good depth into the pocket of Philip Rivers on this dropback. The main thing is Veldheer has to get those hands up quickly and use his length to his advantage. Luckily he is a veteran in this league so I do expect him to adjust a bit before the playoff game.
Like I said at the top, he was mostly solid throughout this game in pass protection. He looked comfortable in the Colts’ aggressive pass sets and was at his best when he got a good punch in and used his length to his advantage. Another major benefit is the Colts love their quick pass game so it allows Veldheer to just win his initial punch and the ball is typically out. I was perfectly content with how he performed in pass pro in this game.
Overall I was impressed with how Veldheer played, especially coming off the street to an offense he likely didn’t know even half of before the game. Offensive tackle is one of the most important positions in the NFL and for the Colts to pick up an adequate player at the position this late in the year is a huge plus.
When it comes to who should start in the playoff game, there is no doubt in my mind it should be Jared Veldheer. Will Holden was decent in both the pass and run game against Pittsburgh but Veldheer just gives so much more in run blocking. When you add in that Veldheer performed well in the playoffs last year, I think it is a no brainer who the Colts should start. Hopefully, he carries this strong play against a really good football team this Saturday.