During the 2014 offseason, Colts Authority is making a concentrated effort to have a complex understanding of as many of the players on the roster as possible. It’s all a part of the Colts Authority Charting Project, an intentional effort to chart as many statistical and strategical details about the team as we can. In that vein, we have several film-review series going thoughout the next few months. You can see all of the 2014 film review pieces at the CA Charting Project page.
We hope you will enjoy the series, and if you have any requests (either in specific players or different statistics you’d like to see charted), please let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @ColtsAuth_Kyle and @ColtsAuthority using #CAchartingproject.
When Montori Hughes landed on injured reserve on Christmas Eve, the Colts called up Jeris Pendleton to take his place. Pendleton, a seventh-round pick of the Jaguars in 2012, had been signed to the practice squad three weeks earlier.
Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois were hurting, so Pendleton played a whopping 40 of Indy’s 70 snaps (57.1%) against the Jaguars in week 17, per Pro Football Focus. He didn’t do much in the pass rush, finishing with a -1.8 PFF grade, but he did make three tackles and finish with a 0.5 run defense grade. Not bad for a 30-year-old whose previous NFL experience consisted of 33 snaps in four games for the 2012 Jaguars.
Pendleton’s stout frame and high motor earned him a regular spot in the rotation during the Colts’ playoff run, as he played 21 of 83 snaps (25.3%) in the Wild Card game against Kansas City and 24 of 74 (32.4%) in the Divisional game at New England.
With Redding, Jean Francois, Arthur Jones, Fili Moala, Montori Hughes and Josh Chapman around, Pendleton faces an uphill battle to make the 2014 roster (though it bodes well for him that the Colts didn’t take any defensive linemen in the draft). But unlike the perennially unmemorable Moala, we’re not sure what Pendleton’s ceiling might look like. So just in case he’s lost to the bowels of Pro-Football-Reference.com in a few short months, I took a look at his body of work.
In total, PFF graded Pendleton at -0.1 overall, with a 0.0 run defense score and a -0.9 pass rush grade. He was pretty much an average player, which, again, isn’t bad considering his lack of pedigree. PFF credited him with four tackles and two hurries, both in the New England game. Curiously, Pendleton was on the field for 51 total pass plays and 34 runs. I say “curiously” because he’s much, much better at run stopping than he is at pass rushing. Why, you’d almost think the Colts’ coaching staff wants to stop the run.
Snark aside, Pendleton is not much of a pass rusher. He’s slow-footed, lacks wiggle and has zero repertoire. When the ball is snapped on a passing down, he generally just flings himself at the man in front of him. Offensive linemen tended to figure out his lack of moves and respond with a big punch after his first couple steps, which would leave Pendleton reeling back on one foot:
On the bright side, though Pendleton rarely got anywhere close to the quarterback, he did a great job of watching for the ball and getting his hands up. He didn’t have any tipped passes, but it’s good to see that he’s alert enough to find alternatives to providing pressure:
Pendleton did have a couple respectable rushes in the New England game, on which he was able to convert his power into the aforementioned two pressures on Tom Brady:
He doesn’t do anything flashy on either play, but you can see his effort level in getting into the pocket. Pendleton has a great motor (though he visibly wore down at times when he played a bunch of snaps in a row). Still, I think it would take about 500 pass rush snaps for him to get a sack. He just doesn’t have the quickness to get much done.
In the running game, meanwhile, Pendleton looks far more natural. He did some fine work at two-gapping a lineman, holding him in control and leaving a back with an impossible decision:
Notice how he’s on the guard’s inside shoulder when Maurice Jones-Drew is on that side, then flips to his outside shoulder in about a quarter of a second when Jones-Drew cuts outside. He’s completely in control of that lineman, as a good two-gapping lineman should be. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that said lineman is Jacques McClendon, who, as Colts aficionados know, sucks.)
Pendleton’s best characteristic is his gap-clogging. He has a good sense of when to settle down in a lane and limit a back’s options:
He also appears to understand his role and how to play the field and put linebackers and safeties in position to make plays while he occupies linemen. Watch him control two blockers here, drawing them to the left while LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea come up to stuff the runner on a 3rd-and-1:
It’s still a seven-yard run because Bjoern Werner has trouble setting the edge, but Pendleton is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do on that play.
Pendleton does much better when moving laterally than he does when asked to anchor at the point of attack. He struggled to get off direct blocks in the Patriots game (much like Josh McNary):
As such, he isn’t a great fit for nose tackle, despite his ample size (6’2″, 334 lbs.). He appears to work better as a defensive end. That might hurt him a bit in his efforts to make the roster, since the Colts need more guys who can back up Josh Chapman at the nose.
Again, Pendleton will have a difficult road to a roster spot in 2014. It’s entirely possible the younger guys will pass him over and he’ll be sent packing. He’s extremely limited in the pass rush, where his only strength is getting his hands up to try to deflect passes. But given the Colts’ love of run stuffers and Pendleton’s set of skills, he might well find a niche as an early down end.