Week9c

CA Charting Project: Offensive Line Season in Review

Ten offensive linemen took snaps for the Colts’ offense in 2013. By my count, they attempted 5,760 blocks. Below are the results of my efforts to chart their successes and failures across those 5,760 blocks. It was a lengthy process, which is why you haven’t heard much from me in the past month. I hope you enjoy it.

Some notes on how this worked:

-I watched every block at least once, and many of them five times or more, and tried to figure out whether the players did what they set out to do. I assigned every block a grade of ‘+’ (good block), ‘-’ (bad block) or ‘/’ (not involved, usually meaning the lineman couldn’t find anyone to block); ‘/’ plays were not scored. I sometimes assigned sacks to two players on the same play, if I felt two blocks were sufficiently heinous and the defenders reached the quarterback at roughly the same time; as such, my numbers sometimes don’t match official sack totals.

-It’s not a perfect process, since I can’t know assignments or what the coaches tell the players to do in any given situation. In the end, I’m just one more jerk trying to reduce an extremely complex series of events to simple numbers. But at least I’m the same jerk using the same system. If someone else did the same thing, he or she would probably end up with different numbers, but I’m confident that person would find the same relative levels of performance.

-As for how those levels of performance compare to those of other teams, I hope to start answering that question next week when I begin a series examining possible free agent targets. Most advanced stats sites put the Colts in the middle of the pack for offensive line play, which feels about right. They’re not an elite line, but they’re better than they were a couple years ago.

-Because these things are so subjective, I like to be as transparent as possible, which is why I included my charting tables in the pieces I wrote during the season. It’s not really practical to include all 18 tables in their entirety here, so you’ll have to take my word for it on the first seven games.

For each lineman, I’ve provided a table that breaks down his season by game. The first four columns are pretty clear; “6L” in the position column means sixth lineman. The snaps include only offensive snaps and are taken from Football Outsiders. Here’s an explanation of the other columns:

RBCRBA and RB% mean run blocks completed, run blocks attempted and run block percentage.

PuBCPuBA and PuB% refer to pull blocks, or blocks on which the linemen step back and move across the field into a different gap. These usually happen on running plays, though they are also used on screen passes and play fakes.

2BC2BA and 2B% refer to second-level blocks, on which the linemen move past the defensive line to engage linebackers or, occasionally, defensive backs. These almost always happen during running plays. In the most conventional second-level block, a lineman helps the guy next to him secure a defensive lineman, then moves on to block a linebacker. Note that if a linebacker came up to the line of scrimmage, I didn’t count it as a second-level block, so some subjectivity again comes into play here.

PBCPBA and PB% refer to pass blocks.

Pr, H and Sa are pressures, hits and sacks, respectively, and PB/Pr, PB/H and PB/Sa mean pass blocks per pressure, hit and sack.

TBCTBA and TB% refer to total blocks.

Standard deviation measures how consistent the lineman was. A lower standard deviation means he was more consistent. Note that games with extremely small sample sizes (usually when the player in question was the sixth lineman) were disregarded when calculating standard deviation.

Here’s the cumulative table for all ten offensive linemen.

A few observations on this table, before I move into the individual breakdowns:

-The Colts struggled badly with second-level blocking, which was a major reason for their problems in the running game. They didn’t complete those blocks with much consistency throughout the season, but even getting there to attempt them was often a sign that things were going well. In the eight games in which they reached double digits in attempted second-level blocks, they were 7-1 and averaged 133 rushing yards; in their other 10 games, they were 5-5 and averaged 85 rushing yards. Those numbers are a little misleading, since they obviously ran more in games in which they had the lead, giving them more opportunities to get to the second level. Still, the linemen’s inability to separate from defensive linemen was often a big problem in their worst games.

-I still don’t fully understand what happened in the Cincinnati game. Joe Reitz played his only full game of the season and was excellent, but otherwise there weren’t any major changes, and Cincinnati had one of the league’s best defensive fronts, even with Geno Atkins injured. Awful performances by the defense and Jeff Triplette overshadowed the offensive line’s best game of the year by a wide margin.

-Starting with that Cincinnati game, the line showed significant improvement down the stretch, particularly in pass blocking. They put up five of their six best pass blocking performances in the last six weeks.

-Four of the line’s five worst pass blocking performances by percentage – week 1 vs. Oakland, week 4 vs. Jacksonville, week 7 vs. Denver and week 13 vs. Tennessee – came in wins, a testament to Andrew Luck’s ability to improvise under pressure.

-Though Reggie Wayne’s injury got most of the attention, the line also came out of the bye week looking sluggish. They gave up a total of 22 pressures and 25 hits against Houston and St. Louis, their worst two-game stretch of the season for those numbers, and had two of their worst run blocking scores of the year.

 

LT Anthony Castonzo

Strengths: Dominates for stretches in run blocking. Excellent pulling and blocking at the second level. When he reads a pass rusher’s move correctly and locks on, he’s nearly unbeatable.

Weaknesses: Lacks elite athleticism, making him a step slow in recovery; rushers with deep repertoires can force him to guess and play catch-up, as Tamba Hali repeatedly did in both Chiefs games. Sometimes bends at the waist in run blocking and gets caught reaching.

Best game: Week 14 vs. Cincinnati – 9/10 run blocking, 49/50 pass blocking, one hit allowed.

Worst game: Week 1 vs. Oakland – 14/20 run blocking, 25/32 pass blocking, four pressures, one hit and two sacks allowed.

Arrow direction: Slightly up, though he’ll be 26 by the start of next season, so it’s unlikely he’ll get a lot better.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 86

Contract status (all contract data is taken from Spotrac.com): Signed for 2014 with a cap hit of $2,545,803. Unrestricted free agent in 2015.

Comments: Castonzo isn’t matchup-proof. When tasked with blocking the league’s best pass rushers, like Hali, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett and Chandler Jones, he has some trouble. But there aren’t many matchup-proof left tackles in the league. Pro Football Focus gave him the 16th-best score in the league among left tackles, which seems about right. On his best days, such as the first Jacksonville and Houston games and the Bengals game, he’s a borderline Pro Bowler. If the Colts keep winning and he gets a little more consistent, he could get to Hawaii someday.

Castonzo was a little erratic in run blocking, but he had easily the highest percentage among the regulars. He was far better in that area in the second half of the season. His pass blocking was more consistent, especially after a brutal week 1 against Oakland. Even during his worst games, such as the blowout loss to St. Louis, he completed a fairly high percentage of his pass blocks, albeit with some bad mistakes thrown in. He put up the only two perfect pass blocking performances by a Colts starter, in week 9 in Houston and week 17 against Jacksonville. Half of his six allowed sacks came in the first two games, and he didn’t give up any over the last six games.

I touched on this a few times during the season, and Kyle has also written about it in the past: the Colts need to find more ways to get Castonzo on the move. He attempted only 24 pull blocks, fewer than Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach, who are so-so at them, and Samson Satele, who is abysmal. That number reflects a larger problem with Pep Hamilton’s offense: he likes to run to the right, behind a pulling Hugh Thornton (or whoever is playing left guard) and Gosder Cherilus. Thornton had plenty of growing pains in his rookie season, and Cherilus is not a good run blocker. Running right also reduces Castonzo to a backside protector, a waste of his talents. When they ran left, it was often on stretch plays that turned ugly because their receivers and tight ends couldn’t hold up on the outside. I’m sure we’ll see a handful of personnel changes before next season, but whatever happens, I’d like to see Hamilton be a little more creative in running left and getting Castonzo moving.

As it stands, Castonzo is right in that contractual sweet spot from the team’s perspective: he’s good enough to be worth re-signing, but he’s not so dominant that he’ll break the bank. Judging by his comments, he also seems to like the team and the city. My gut says Castonzo will quietly accept a market-level contract next year.

 

6L/LG Hugh Thornton

Strengths: By far the best motor on the team; always looking to help someone and always blocks to the whistle. Good at the second level and erratic but occasionally devastating when pulling. Excellent strength and decent athleticism.

Weaknesses: Prone to mistakes and vulnerable against clever defensive tackles. Wasn’t nearly as good a run blocker as he should have been, given his physical gifts. Often had trouble locking onto a target when pulling and flew harmlessly past. Occasionally appeared to forget a play. Had a hard time with stunts early in the season, but made progress in that area.

Best game: Wild Card round vs. Kansas City – 10/13 run blocking, 43/46 pass blocking, one pressure and one hit allowed.

Worst game: Week 7 vs. Denver – 16/27 run blocking, 33/43 pass blocking, three hits and two sacks allowed.

Arrow direction: Violently up.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 71

Contract status: Signed for three more years, with cap hits of $641,345, $731,345 and $821,345.

Comments: I have a soft spot for Thornton because he’s tremendously fun to watch when he’s playing well. When I started adding up his numbers, I was surprised how unsightly they were. He graded out as one of the worst run blockers on the team, with the same percentage as McGlynn. He also gave up a team-high eight sacks. His pass blocking was at 85% or lower in eight of the first 11 games in which he saw significant action, though he was much better in his last four starts.

Thornton pulled a ton; he finished with 142 of the team’s 343 total pull blocks (41%). He completed 62% of those blocks, a far better mark than Satele or McGlynn and right in line with the team average. As he grows into his role, he’ll need to get better at sighting a defender and hitting him with full momentum. He sometimes looked unsure when pulling and took a few stutter steps, then either couldn’t generate movement when he made contact or missed altogether.

Thornton makes one or two ‘wow’ run blocks in every game, either flying across the line on a pull to blow up a defender or muscling his man back to generate space. I almost always came away feeling like he’d blocked well in the running game, so again, it was surprising to see how low his run blocking percentages were. It’s a matter of technique for him right now, because there’s no physical reason that he can’t be a top guard.

The Colts’ original plan was to use Thornton as the sixth lineman and let him slowly develop into a starter. That was probably a wise course of action (though I’d argue he was better than McGlynn from day one), but the Donald Thomas injury forced him into duty. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts brought in another veteran guard to push for Thornton’s spot and let him serve another year of apprenticeship. Still, he played a ton of snaps in 2013 and gained a lot of experience. I know I’m a broken record on this, but I think he’ll be a good one someday.

 

C Samson Satele

Strengths: A much better pass blocker than his reputation suggests. Feisty and effective when handling bigger pass rushers.

Weaknesses: A disaster in run blocking. Has no mobility and is worthless when asked to pull or block at the second level. Severe lapses in awareness are amusing, but devastating. Poor activity level.

Best game: Wild Card round vs. Kansas City – 10/13 run blocking, 44/47 pass blocking, one pressure allowed, zero WTF is Samson Satele Thinking? moments.

Worst game: Week 5 vs. Seattle – 11/24 run blocking, 30/34 pass blocking, one pressure and one hit allowed.

Arrow direction: Ideally, the waiver wire.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 64

Contract status: Signed for 2014 with a cap hit of $5,066,667; releasing him would incur a cap penalty of $1,066,668.

Comments: I’m afraid this will make you dismiss me as an idiot and stop reading immediately, but I can’t deny the raw numbers, so I’m going to say it anyway: in terms of percentages, Samson Satele was the Colts’ best and most consistent pass blocker in 2013. He had both the highest pass blocking percentage at 90% and the lowest standard deviation at 4% (Pro Football Focus gave him a respectable, though not overwhelming, 0.8 pass blocking grade for the season).

Those numbers certainly come with some caveats. Center is the easiest pass blocking position, since the center has at least two players on either side of him, rather than the yawning chasm of empty field outside a tackle. Satele’s numbers are also inflated by his high number of ‘/’ blocks. He finished with 67, by far the most on the team, despite missing three full games (the other totals: Castonzo 46, McGlynn 41, Cherilus 40, Thornton 38, Jeff Linkenbach 15, Xavier Nixon 12, Donald Thomas 6, Reitz 1). Those plays are often a result of circumstances and aren’t a direct measure of a lineman’s activity level, and the Colts’ blocking scheme often left Satele in a free role with no obvious target. Still, Satele wasn’t good at seeking out defenders, and his tendency to drift artificially lowers his total blocks a bit.

But no matter how you slice it, on a per-snap basis, Satele wasn’t a bad pass blocker. He coughed up only two sacks in 601 attempted pass blocks, or one for every 300.5, by far the best rate on the team. His pass blocks per pressure and hit were also among the team’s best.

Of course, none of that means he was a good lineman. His run blocking percentage was the lowest on the team, and he had two games in which he dipped below 50%. He did a decent job of reaching the second level, but he had no clue what to do once he got there, and his pull blocking and screen blocking were terrible. PFF graded him at -12.1 in run blocking, with only three positive games.

And then there were the WTF is Samson Satele Thinking? moments. You can go back and read my earlier pieces if you want to relive some of those. My favorite might still be the first one I pointed out, from the first Texans game. Here it is, in brief:

Luck has rolled out and is looking for a receiver. Satele is standing in the middle of the frame. Surely he’ll either block Darryl Sharpton (51) or help one of his struggling teammates, right?

Nope.

Bam.

Bam

Even with the $1 million cap hit, Ryan Grigson would be foolish to keep Satele around. His glaring faults more than offset his few decent skills. He’s holding back the Colts’ running game and he’s a ticking time bomb in pass protection, where any moment he might stop paying attention and give up a hit. It’s time for him to go.

 

RG/C Mike McGlynn

Strengths: Second only to Thornton in activity level. Battles on every snap, helps teammates and sacrifices his body to keep Andrew Luck upright. Strong in recognizing stunts.

Weaknesses: Not athletic enough for the NFL. Has little lateral mobility and tries to compensate with a comically wide stance, leaving him vulnerable to bull rushes. Erratic in run blocking and consistently poor in pass blocking. Struggles to track defenders when on the move.

Best game: Week 14 vs. Cincinnati – 8/10 run blocking, 44/45 pass blocking, one pressure allowed.

Worst game: Week 10 vs. St. Louis – 4/7 run blocking, 12/19 pass blocking, two pressures and four hits allowed before leaving with an injury; surrendered a hit every 4.75 pass blocks.

Arrow direction: CFL.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 62

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent.

Comments: McGlynn’s reputation among Colts fans is similar to Satele’s, though for some reason he’s slightly less unpopular, and everyone wanted him to replace Satele at center. Judging by my system, the only reason to make the switch would have been McGlynn’s better concentration. McGlynn was markedly worse in pass blocking at both center and guard, and his run blocking numbers in the three games he played at center were below Satele’s averages. He was a slightly better run blocker overall than Satele and was a respectable 60% on pull blocks, but he completed only 48% of his second level blocks and was one of the worst overall run blockers on the team.

Marcus hypothesized a while back that the line plays better with McGlynn at center than with Satele because McGlynn gets them into better protections. Their overall performances in the three games McGlynn played entirely at center (week 3 vs. San Francisco, week 4 vs. Jacksonville and week 15 vs. Houston) were actually three of their worst of the season by percentages, but I think Marcus has a point. I watched for bad protections resulting in unblocked rushers while I was charting the first seven games of the season, which included two of McGlynn’s center starts and the Denver game, when Satele was in and out with injuries. Here’s what I counted:

Opponent Center Bad protections
Oakland Satele 2
Miami Satele 4
San Francisco McGlynn 1
Jacksonville McGlynn 2
Seattle Satele 0
San Diego Satele 5
Denver Satele 2
Denver McGlynn 0

That’s an average of 2.6 for Satele and 1 for McGlynn. It’s not exactly a scientific study and it’s a small sample, but it suggests McGlynn is better at understanding what a defense is doing before the snap.

McGlynn’s biggest asset, to hear the coaches tell it, is his desire. And he does work his butt off on every down. He’s a stark contrast to the guys who usually played next to him; Satele and Cherilus both look disinterested sometimes, while McGlynn looks like the angry little brother who desperately wants to beat up the bigger, stronger kids, but doesn’t have the physical tools to do it. Like Satele, he’s been holding this line back. If he wanted to come back as a backup guard and center, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s time to move on from him as a starter.

 

RT Gosder Cherilus

Strengths: When locked in, a tremendous pass blocker who can be left in isolation and shut opposing rushers down. Quick, smooth and confident in pass protection. Not asked to pull much, but quite effective when he does.

Weaknesses: Constantly lets go of run blocks too early. Generally erratic in run blocking and doesn’t do much at the second level. When he’s having a bad game, he tends to drift and pile mistakes on mistakes. Started the season poorly in pass protection, though he came on later. Struggles to diagnose and pass off stunts and works better by himself.

Best game: Divisional round vs. Patriots – 18/20 run blocking, 42/44 pass blocking, one pressure and one hit allowed.

Worst game: A tough call, but I’ll go with week 13 vs. Tennessee – 14/20 run blocking, 32/42 pass blocking, one pressure, one hit and two sacks allowed.

Arrow direction: Slightly down. He hits 30 in June, which is not a good age for an athleticism-dependent tackle.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 83

Contract status: Signed for four more years, with cap hits of $3.9 million, $6.9 million, $9.9 million and $9.9 million. Releasing him in those years would result in cap penalties of $11.6 million, $6 million, $4 million and $2 million, respectively.

Comments: By the time I finished charting the season, Cherilus was my least favorite blocker to watch. He’s not bad, but he’s not the player he should be, and it’s frustrating to see him squander his talents. As I wrote several times during the season, he always quits on his run blocks too early. Once you get a feel for his rhythm, you can predict almost down to the frame when he’s going to let a guy go. It often happens before the running back is past the line of scrimmage, particularly when that back is Trent Richardson. With his size and athleticism, Cherilus should be a dominant run blocker, but he only had two games with run blocking scores over 80%: Arizona (11/11) and New England (18/20). His 13% standard deviation in run blocking was the highest among the regulars.

Cherilus did put on a decent showing in pass blocking, particularly later in the season. The Colts’ blocking scheme was often designed to hide Thornton between Castonzo and the center, which left Cherilus singled up with left ends. He does his best work when he’s on an island with nobody near him and can concentrate on one defender. A few guys, like Tennessee’s Derrick Morgan, St. Louis’ Chris Long and Kansas City’s Justin Houston, gave him trouble, but he acquitted himself well against other good players, like Miami’s Cameron Wake, Cincinnati’s Carlos Dunlap and New England’s Rob Ninkovich.

Grigson overpaid to get Cherilus, but it was an understandable overpay. He needed a good pass blocker to put opposite Castonzo, and he got one. Good tackles are tough to find, and as long as he ages well, Cherilus should be able to hold down the fort on the right for a few more years. I just wish he’d hold those run blocks.

 

RG/LG/6L Jeff Linkenbach

Strengths: In very controlled circumstances, can be modestly effective.

Weaknesses: Is Jeff Linkenbach.

Best game: Week 17 vs. Jacksonville – 19/26 run blocking, 37/42 pass blocking, two pressures and one sack allowed.

Worst game: Week 5 vs. Jacksonville – 22/28 run blocking, 34/45 pass blocking, three pressures and five hits allowed.

Arrow direction: Firmly down. He wasn’t a good athlete at 22, and he’ll be 27 in June.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 60

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent.

Comments: I have never understood Linkenbach’s appeal. He’s simply not very good. He’s not strong or quick, and he’s not a perfect technician. Subtracting his games as the sixth lineman, he finished with a 0% standard deviation in his poor pass blocking and total blocking scores, so at least he’s consistent. He did complete a respectable 69% of his 29 pull blocks and 62% of his 21 second level blocks. He also allowed a pressure every 15.8 pass blocks, the worst mark on the team, and a hit every 33.9 pass blocks. He generates little movement in the running game.

For some reason, Linkenbach played 252 more snaps than Reitz and 386 more than Khaled Holmes. Reitz isn’t much better as a run blocker than Linkenbach, but he’s head and shoulders above him as a pass blocker and at least has a little upside (as does Holmes). Personally, I would have glued Linkenbach’s butt to the bench and seen what the other guys could do.

Linkenbach is finally, mercifully, hitting unrestricted free agency, and he’s done little to show he deserves to stick around.

 

6L/RG/LG Joe Reitz

Strengths: Tremendously athletic; has quick feet and great balance. Recovers well when initially beaten. Shows promise in pull blocking. Has terrific chemistry with Castonzo.

Weaknesses: Still doesn’t have a great feel for run blocking; was miscast as the sixth lineman, where he was primarily asked to run block. Has a difficult time getting leverage on defenders and moving them out of the way.

Best game: Week 14 vs. Cincinnati – 6/10 run blocking, 47/49 pass blocking, one hit allowed.

Worst game: Week 4 vs. Jacksonville – 10/17 run blocking, 4/5 pass blocking as sixth lineman.

Arrow direction: Up, and back to Indianapolis, I hope.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 74

Contract status: Restricted free agent.

Comments: Reitz played basketball at Western Michigan and has never quite found his niche in the NFL. He started 17 total games for the Colts in 2011 and 2012, but battled injuries and slowly fell down the pecking order. He started 2013 as the sixth lineman, but he was erratic in the role and was replaced by Linkenbach coming out of the bye. When a slew of injuries thrust him into a starting left guard spot in Cincy, he shone, missing only two of 49 pass blocks.

Though the game still doesn’t appear natural for him, his remarkable athleticism allows him to recover in spots where others, including Castonzo, would be doomed. He missed only five of 76 attempted pass blocks for the season, allowing one pressure and one hit. He also went 6/8 on pull blocks, showing off his quickness on the move.

At this point, Reitz’s lack of technique in the running game is his biggest drawback. As a restricted free agent, he’ll probably be back for one more year as depth, unless free agency and the draft produce enough new guys to squeeze him out.

6L/RG/LG Xavier Nixon

Strengths: Quick feet and large frame make him a natural tackle; after some difficulties in his first game at guard against Houston, played well in the first Kansas City game.

Weaknesses: Sometimes pass blocks like a tackle, allowing linemen to get upfield instead of holding his ground. Doesn’t look natural on the move.

Best game: Week 16 vs. Kansas City – 21/28 run blocking, 31/34 pass blocking, one sack allowed.

Worst game: Week 15 vs. Houston – 13/27 run blocking, 28/32 pass blocking, one pressure and two hits allowed.

Arrow direction: Up, both in a general sense and in the tackle pecking order.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 68

Contract status: Signed for 2014 with a cap hit of $495,000. Exclusive rights free agent in 2015.

Comments: Barring a free agent signing, Nixon might well settle in as the third tackle in 2014. He held up well in pass protection in limited duty, allowing only one pressure, two hits and one sack in 68 snaps. He doesn’t look like much of a run blocker, though he did fairly well run blocking as the sixth lineman.

 

LG Donald Thomas

Strengths: Flashed good power and mobility. Excellent on pull blocks. Steady if unspectacular in pass protection; spotted stunts well.

Weaknesses: Appeared to misunderstand his assignment on a few plays in the Oakland game.

Best game: Week 1 vs. Oakland – 15/20 run blocking, 25/28 pass blocking, two pressures and one hit allowed.

Worst game: Week 2 vs. Miami – 4/4 run blocking, 8/10 pass blocking, one torn quad.

Arrow direction: Flat, but right back into the lineup.

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 78

Contract status: Signed for three more years, with cap hits of $3.75 million in each year. Releasing him would incur cap penalties of $750,000 this year, $500,000 in 2015 and $250,000 in 2016.

Comments: It was hard to get much of a read on Thomas in his limited time, but he looked better than any of the Colts’ other interior linemen other than Reitz (and, for his miniscule sample, Holmes). If you were playing a franchise in Madden and he had my suggested 78, you’d probably feel OK about him, but you’d always hope a good rookie or a top free agent came along to replace him, and that’s about who he is. He’s a decent guard who won’t hurt the team and will make a few nice blocks per game. He’s a little overpaid for that, but if someone better comes along, it won’t hurt much to release him. Grigson would look a lot smarter right now if he hadn’t gotten hurt.

 

6L/LG/C Khaled Holmes

Strengths: Though 12 snaps is a tiny sample size, looked excellent on 10 of the 11 blocks he attempted. Consistently moved his man in run blocking and made a terrific second level block in the second Jacksonville game.

Weaknesses: Apparently can’t convince the coaching staff to trust him.

Best game: Week 16 vs. Kansas City – 3/3 run blocking, 3/3 pass blocking.

Worst game: By default, week 17 vs. Jacksonville – 2/3 run blocking, 2/2 pass blocking.

Arrow direction: Has to be up, right?

Rating I’d give him in Madden: 90

Contract status: Signed for three more years, with cap hits of $600,027, $690,027 and $780,027.

Comments: No, that Madden rating is not a typo. Rather, it’s a snarky reaction to the Colts coaching staff’s unwillingness to play the guy when he looked so good in limited snaps. I don’t really have any idea how good he is, and nobody else outside the team does, either, so why not be optimistic? Nixon played well enough in limited duty, but he wasn’t a world-beater. If he could get 153 snaps, how did Holmes wind up with only 12, two of which came when Thornton lost his shoe in the second Jacksonville game (I am not making this up)? As bad as Satele and McGlynn were, I was sure Holmes would get a runout at some point. Instead, the Colts’ only lineup change that wasn’t injury-related was swapping out McGlynn for Linkenbach in the second Titans game. Truly befuddling.

Grigson will likely bring in a veteran center, assuming he gives up on Satele. Maybe we’ll see Holmes a little more next year.

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