When Quenton Nelson went on IR with a high ankle sprain, many freaked out and for good reason: Nelson is probably the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL and one of the best overall offensive linemen. So while there was going to be downgrade, Chris Reed has more than held his own in the starting role.
Here are blocking numbers of 4 offensive linemen for the Colts this season:
- Player A — 180 pass block snaps | 4 sacks (2.22%), 6 hits (3.33%), 9 hurries (5%), 19 pressures (10.55%) , 6 penalties
- Player B — 238 pass block snaps | 2 sacks (0.8%), 3 hits (1.26%), 7 hurries (2.95%), 12 pressures (5%), 3 penalties
- Player C — 138 pass block snaps | 0 sacks (0%), 3 hits (2.17%), 5 hurries (3.62%), 8 pressures (5.79%), 0 penalties
- Player D — 239 pass block snaps | 1 sack (0.4%), 7 hits (2.92%), 12 hurries (5.02%), 20 pressures (8.36%), 0 penalties
Of those four players, Player A’s is making $8.38M this season, Player B’s is about to enter a $12.5M per year deal and Player D is making $5.4M this season. What about Player C? He’s making 1.48M for this season. There is a good argument that the player making the least amount of money is performing the best out of the current (non-Nelson) group.
Player A is Eric Fisher, Player B is Ryan Kelly, Player C is Chris Reed and Player D is Mark Glowinski.
When Quenton Nelson returns within the next few games, the question needs to be asked: how can the Colts keep Reed on the field?
Unfortunately, Reed can’t play offensive tackle so the Colts are stuck with Fisher at offensive tackle (in terms of that switch). Quenton Nelson will take his spot back at left guard and Braden Smith will take his spot back at right tackle when he returns from injury, so that leaves Kelly and Glowinski. As the numbers indicated, Kelly has been performing fine, although not up to his 12.5M standards. That leaves Mark Glowinski and I believe the Colts should play Chris Reed at right guard over Mark Glowinski moving forward.
Reed has around 200 NFL snaps of experience at right guard, mostly during his years with Carolina, but played many positions in college at Minnesota State. He could easily slide in at right guard and continue his strong play. The numbers don’t lie, Reed has been more effective than Glowinski.
Since Glowinski joined the Colts in 2018, his play has slowly declined. He started out doing very well with the Andrew Luck-led Colts in 2018, but he has become a penalty machine, although he has been better so far this year and he has allowed dozens of pressures as well as being average at best in the run game. He was the weak link of the offensive line until Eric Fisher signed with the team.
Chris Reed needs to become the starting right guard over Mark Glowinski as he is the stronger and more capable player.
As for Matt Pryor, he needs to move to left tackle and replace Eric Fisher once Braden Smith is healthy enough to return. Eric Fisher has been an unmitigated disaster at left tackle.
If we use the same exercise as before, compare these two players:
Player A — 180 pass block snaps | 4 sacks (2.22%), 6 hits (3.33%), 9 hurries (5%), 19 pressures (10.55%) , 6 penalties
Player B — 107 pass block snaps | 0 sacks (0%), 1 hit (0.93%), 2 hurries (1.8%), 3 pressures (2.80%), 1 penalty
Clearly player B, who also plays offensive tackle, has been the stronger pass blocker. That player is Matt Pryor and he has been admirably replacing Braden Smith on the right side. Pryor has experience all over the offensive line, playing a little bit of everything in Philadelphia, including left tackle (for 78 snaps).
The switch from right tackle to left tackle isn’t necessarily an easy one with some NFL offensive tackles saying it’s like wiping your butt with your opposite hand, which implies it can be done but it takes time to adjust. Pryor has prior playing and practice experience so the switch wouldn’t be as difficult.
The main issue with Eric Fisher is his quickness out of his stance. I pointed it out a couple of weeks ago against the Ravens. The ankle/Achilles is clearly hindering his quickness, explosiveness and his agility in pass protection.
So this is a problem. All the other OL and the Ravens DL is a step out of their stance and Fisher is just getting to his first step. Super slow to react and it kills them. Oweh was not offsides FWIW. #Colts pic.twitter.com/ffbdbTGYn9— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) October 12, 2021
He is better in run blocking situations, but according to PFF (who should be taken with a grain of salt), Pryor has a better run blocking grade than Fisher. In the run game, if Pryor is inferior to Fisher, that can be masked by a tight end and the mere presence of Nelson next to him will elevate his play, but Fisher against any average or above average defensive end will continue to cause problems for Carson Wentz.
In my opinion, the best offensive line for the Colts for the time being is:
Pryor — Nelson — Kelly — Reed — Smith