CA Charting Project: Charting the Colts’ Offensive Line, Week 9

This season, Colts Authority is launching a game charting project involving staff members and volunteer readers in an attempt to gather as much data as we possibly can to continue to pass as much accurate, valuable information on to you, the reader. This is the first part of this project, in which Colts Authority reader and guest contributor Ben Gundy will be charting the Colts' offensive linemen every week. We will have more charting projects rolling out in coming weeks, but big thanks to Ben for getting us started out with a fantastic piece of work. – KJR

Hello, Colts fans, and welcome to the first installment of a series breaking down Indianapolis’ offensive line play.

For the purposes of this project, I rated each lineman’s block on every play good, bad or “not involved.” The latter designation usually means the player couldn’t find anyone to block.

As with all attempts at grading offensive linemen, these ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s impossible to know the linemen’s assignments, and inevitably some subjectivity comes into play. As such, the figures below should be considered ballpark estimates and not precise measurements. Still, it’s usually fairly easy to tell whether a lineman succeeds in blocking the guy in front of him.

Editor's note: Based on my review of this data set, and some of Ben's previous work, he's got a pretty good eye for this. You're in good hands. – KJR

You can find my charting table at the bottom of this post.

LT Anthony Castonzo

Run blocks: 8/12, 67%

Pass blocks: 41/41, 100%

Total: 49/53, 92%

Castonzo had one of his worst games of the season in the running game, missing on a third of his 12 blocks. He played a large role in the offense’s early run struggles as he failed on three of his first four run blocks, and he also had a whiff on the first run of the Colts’ futile last series. Of course, other than those four plays, he was essentially flawless.

Castonzo was a perfect 41 for 41 in pass blocking and cleaned up his early difficulties to put together a solid string of run blocking before the one missed block late. It actually became somewhat boring to watch him pass block. Time after time, a Texans defender (usually linebacker Whitney Mercilus) would run at him. Time after time, Castonzo would calmly backpedal, lock onto him and hold him in place. Houston didn’t put J.J. Watt on Castonzo’s side very often, likely because he found far more luck (no pun intended) working against the rest of the Colts’ line. I doubt Castonzo makes the Pro Bowl this year, as the tackle group is tough to crack, but he’s playing well enough to merit consideration.

 

LG Hugh Thornton

Run blocks: 10/14, 71%

Pass blocks: 40/46, 87%, four hits, two sacks

Total: 50/60, 83%

As is often the case with Thornton, when he screwed up on Sunday, he screwed up badly. All six of his missed pass blocks resulted in hits or sacks, and Texans end Antonio Smith twice beat him on inside power moves to bring Luck down. Thornton ran hot and cold all night: he completed his first 19 blocks successfully, then blew four of five, then completed four in a row, blew two straight, completed 26 of 28 and blew his last two. In short, he looked like a rookie. Still, he finished with the second-best overall percentage on the team.

His best asset is his pull blocking. Aside from plays on which he couldn’t find anyone to block, he was 10-of-13 on pull blocks. When he gets a head of steam coming across the line and locks onto a defender, he can be devastating. He did, however, miss his last two blocks, on which he pulled for running plays on the last drive. Maybe he was just gassed at that point, but he didn’t have the same decisiveness he showed earlier.

 

C Samson Satele

Run blocks: 8/14, 57%

Pass blocks: 31/37, 84%, four hits

Total: 39/51, 76%

Satele is downright strange to watch. He is, by far, the Colts’ least active lineman. He had 11 plays in which he couldn’t find anyone to block Sunday. Castonzo had nine, Thornton (who is reliably the team’s most active lineman) had two and Mike McGlynn and Gosder Cherilus both had three. I’ve kept track of the linemen in a number of games, and this is always true of Satele.

At first I thought it was a result of playing center and that the Colts’ blocking scheme left him in more of a free role, but when he missed a couple games and McGlynn played center, his “not involved” plays were far less frequent. Satele put together a decent overall showing against the Texans, despite a team-high six missed run blocks. But his tendency to get lost can be maddening.

Here’s a representative play. On a first quarter pass, Satele finds himself with no one to block, standing a few feet in front of Andrew Luck. Luck’s rollout has brought him into the path of Brooks Reed, who is pulling away from Coby Fleener. On the bottom right, Castonzo and Donald Brown are steering Mercilus downfield, and Darryl Sharpton (51) is coming in unblocked.

Pop quiz. Does Satele:

A. Block Sharpton

B. Push Reed away

C. Help on Mercilus

D. Help on either Smith or Watt (at the top left of the screen)

E. None of the above

 

If you answered E, you get a gold star. Here’s the play a few frames later.

And here’s the end result. Luck gets an incomplete pass off, then Sharpton gets a free shot on Luck because Satele has not moved.

 

Satele remains Ryan Grigson’s worst signing by a wide margin.

 

RG Mike McGlynn

Run blocks: 10/14, 71%

Pass blocks: 35/45, 78%, three pressures, five hits

Total: 45/59, 78%

McGlynn is a classic try-hard guy who does what he can with limited gifts. He’s not particularly strong and he’s not athletic at all. The Colts were asking him to pull more often near the beginning of the season, but that has almost disappeared; he pulled only three times Sunday (completing two and finding no one to block on the other).

Smith and Watt both routinely abused McGlynn, but he kept battling after a rough start and put together some good stretches. He was the worst pass blocker on the team by percentages, though he miraculously did not give up a sack despite three pressures and five hits.

 

RT Gosder Cherilus

Run blocks: 11/14, 79%

Pass blocks: 37/45, 82%, four pressures, three hits, one sack

Total: 48/59, 81%

Once the Texans figured out that putting Watt on Castonzo was basically a wash, they started lining him up across from Cherilus regularly. Cherilus is a terrific athlete for his size, but J.J. Watt is J.J. Watt. He repeatedly beat Cherilus with moves to both the inside and outside, to the point that the Colts started sliding Trent Richardson over to help him out. That didn’t help much, either, as Richardson finished 7/11 in pass blocking with two pressures, a hit and a sack allowed.

Cherilus did finish the game strong, completing his last eight blocks. And he was the Colts’ best run blocker, a welcome change after he struggled mightily in that area earlier this year.

 

As for the Colts’ other blockers:

  • Stanley Havili had a so-so day in run blocking (5/8), but he was 4/4 in pass blocking.
  • Fleener isn’t making anyone forget Dwayne Allen. He was 4/7 on running plays and 2/3 on passing plays. He blew his blocks on all three runs during the Colts’ attempt at a clock-killing drive. Losing Allen after week one might be the single biggest reason the Colts have failed to establish a consistent running game. He was monstrous as a blocker and also a good enough receiver to keep defenses honest.
  • Doyle rules. Jack Doyle, that is. The rookie tight end, whom the Colts claimed off waivers from Tennessee at the end of the preseason, was 3/3 on run blocks and 3/3 on pass blocks. He’s strong and feisty and a useful weapon as a blocker.
  • Donald Brown, whose pass blocking is best known for costing the Colts the Miami game, was a perfect 4/4.
  • Jeff Linkenbach, who appears to have supplanted Joe Reitz as the extra lineman of choice, was just 1/3 on run blocks, though he was 5/6 on pass blocks. It’s a good sign that the Colts passed with an extra lineman on the field more than they ran it, as they had been predictable in that set earlier in the year. In another welcome change, the unbalanced line they used to trot out regularly, often to ill effect, was nowhere to be seen.

 


 


Play

Castonzo

Thornton

Satele

McGlynn

Cherilus

Fleener 44 pass

+

+

/

+

+

Incomplete

+

Pulls, +

+

+

+

Richardson 0 run

-

Pulls, +

+

-

-

Hilton 6 pass (ineligible downfield declined)

+

+

/, ineligible downfield

2nd level, -

+

Drive total

3/4

4/4

2/2

2/4

3/4

Richardson 7 run

Pulls, –

+

2nd level, -

-

-

Richardson 4 run

+

+

-

-

+

Richardson 3 run

-

Pulls, +

-

2nd level, +

+

Richardson 3 run

+

Pulls, +

+

-

+

Incomplete

+

+

/

+

+

Drive total

3/5

5/5

1/4

2/5

4/5

Whalen 6 pass

+

2nd level, +

+

+

+

Brown 24 run

+

+

2nd level, -

+

+

Incomplete

+

+

+

Gives up hit

+

Brown 7 run

+

Pulls, +

-

+

-

Incomplete

/

+

-

/

+

Drive total

4/4

5/5

2/5

3/4

4/5

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

Gives up pressure

-7 sack

+

+

+

+

+

-6 sack

+

+

/

+

Gives up sack

Drive total

3/3

3/3

2/2

3/3

1/3

Richardson 5 run

/

Pulls, +

+

+

+

Incomplete

+

+

/

+

+

Incomplete

+

Gives up hit

/

Knocked down

+

Drive total

2/2

2/3

1/1

2/3

3/3

Incomplete, def. pass interference

+

Pulls, +

Gives up hit

+

+

Brown 1 run

+

Pulls, -

+

Falls down

+

-6 sack

+

Gives up sack

/

+

Gives up pressure

Incomplete

+

Gives up hit

Gives up hit

Gives up hit

+

Drive total

4/4

1/4

1/3

3/4

3/4

Incomplete

+

+

/

+

+

Brown 11 run

+

+

+

Pulls, +

+

Drive total

2/2

2/2

1/1

2/2

2/2

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Hilton 11 pass

+

+

+

+

+

Hilton 11 pass

+

Gives up hit

+

+

+

-7 sack

/

Gives up sack

+

+

/

Heyward-Bey 11 pass

+

+

+

+

+

Incomplete, def. unnecessary roughness

+

+

+

+

+

Incomplete

Pulls, /

Pulls, /

/

+

/

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Drive total

7/7

6/8

8/8

9/9

7/7o:p>

Incomplete

/

+

/

Gives up pressure

+

Brazill 9 pass

+

+

+

+

+

Havili 1 pass

/

+

+

+

+

Incomplete

/

/

+

/

+

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Hilton 16 pass

+

+

+

Gives up pressure

Gives up pressure

Whalen 9 pass

+

+

+

Gives up hit

+

Fleener 18 pass

+

+

+

+

+

Brown 5 run

+

2nd level, -

+

Pulls, +

+

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Incomplete, roughing the passer

+

+

-

Gives up pressure

Gives up pressure

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Incomplete

+

+

+

+

+

Hilton 10 TD pass

+

+

+

+

+

Drive total

11/11

12/13

12/13

9/13

12/14

Richardson 9 pass

+

Pulls, +

Pulls, +

+

+

Hilton 58 TD pass

+

+

+

Gives up hit

Gives up hit

2 pt. incomplete

+

+

/

+

/

Drive total

3/3

3/3

2/2

2/3

1/2

Incomplete

+

+

+

Gives up hit

Gives up hit

Incomplete

+

Gives up hit

Gives up hit

+

Gives up hit

Whalen 17 pass

+

+

+

+

+

Richardson 24 pass

+

Pulls, +

+

Pulls, /

+

Fleener 2 pass

/

+

+

+

+

Hilton 9 TD pass

+

+

+

+

+

Fleener 2 pt. pass

+

+

Gives up hit

+

+

Drive total

6/6

6/7

5/7

5/6

5/7

Richardson -1 run

-

Pulls, +

-

+

+

Richardson -1 run

+

Pulls, -

+

+

+

Brown 1 run

/

Pulls, -

+

+

+

Drive total

1/2

1/3

2/3

3/3

3/3


 

Castonzo

Thornton

Satele

McGlynn

Cherilus

Run total

8/12

10/14

8/14

10/14

11/14

Run percentage

67

71

57

71

79

Pass total

41/41

40/46

31/37

35/45

37/45

Pass percentage

100

87

84

78

82

Pressures

0

0

0

3

4

Hits

0

4

4

5

3

Sacks

0

2

0

0

1

Grand total

49/53

50/60

39/51

45/59

48/59

Grand total percentage

92

83

76

78

81

 

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