In this edition of Monday Film Room, we will look at two offensive lines that really struggled. First, Justin Fields was sacked nine times in the Bears vs. Browns game, so we will look at what role the offensive line played in his disastrous first start. The Patriots were supposed to be one of the top five offensive lines in the NFL this season, but they have not lived up to expectations in the first two weeks. Well, the Patriots only rushed for 21 yards on 11 carries on RB runs in week three against the Saints, so we look at the role the Pats offensive line played in the team's awful run performance.
Bears Pass Pro Struggles
In the first play, Jadaveon Clowney, who had two sacks, got his first thanks to poor technique from Germain Ifedi. At the snap, he takes a giant step over to the right in his initial pass set, which opens the door for Clowney, and he is never able to close it. If you look at how Clowney's stance is cocked and how he is aligned on Ifedi's outside shoulder, that should tell Ifedi that an inside pass rush is possible. Not saying that Clowney could not go outside, but because of how close he is, Clowney's body was in a position to do exactly what he did. Ifedi's initial pass set should have been straight back, and if Clowney takes the same trajectory in his rush then a quick inside kick slide step to either overtake him or if Clowney beats him to the spot, he is at least in position to wash him down.
The next play was a combination of poor blitz pick-up by Jason Peters and Myles Garrett overpowering the TE, resulting in two players getting to Fields. It becomes clear very quickly at the top right of the screen that Garrett will beat Cole Kmet, number 85, but what really hurts in this play is the fact that Jason Peters did not block anyone. All linemen need to be award during the pre-snap phase, but especially when playing with a rookie making his first start. Odds are Fields is not ready to be calling out potential pre-snap blitz adjustments. Peters on the other hand is pushing 40 and should be able to look up and see that the OLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a potential blitz threat. One might give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe Peters thought he was covering Kmet, but Kmet is in pass pro on this play, so that means he does not have a firm grasp on the playbook if he thought that. At the snap, Peters initially steps right to help Cody Whitehair, who has his guy blocked just fine on his own and does not look up to see if anyone blitzes until it is too late.
In the third play, Peters again is at fault. It is hard to tell what Peters is trying to do in this play. It is not typical for a lineman to cut block on 3rd and 14 unless the offense is just running some quick pass play and preparing to punt. However, based on the pass sets of the other four linemen and all the Bears receivers taking off down-field, that does not seem to be the case. So with an RB aligned to his side and prepared to help chip, it makes no sense for him to attempt a cut block. Beyond that, the execution of the cut block was so bad that it barely affects Garrett and he easily gets around Peters for another of his many sacks on the day.
In play number four, Garrett is aligned inside at a DT position and just takes advantage of a mismatch with James Daniels to get another sack. What makes this play worse is the fact that Ifedi attempts to provide some minor help while also trying to block Clowney and Garrett sort of powers through him while beating Daniels as well.
In the fifth play, Garrett is lined up inside again. This time he does not get the sack, but he causes so much disruption that he played a part in making a sack on this play happen. At one point in the play he appears to be getting blocked by three Bears offensive linemen, and none of them ever neutralize him. Tak McKinley also did a good job at the top of the screen beating Ifedi and all the attention Garrett draws makes Malik Jackson's job easy as he twisted behind Clowney and easily beat David Montgomery to get in on the action. It is poor pass pro design to have three guys blocking Garrett while leaving an RB to try and block a DT.
Not much analysis is needed for play number six. Garrett beats Peters out of his stance and runs past him like he was not even there. What is weird about this play is that Garrett has been wreaking havoc all game and at pre-snap, and when the play initially starts, Peters is looking inside and appears to be more concerned with Clowney. Because of this, he turns his attention to Garrett too late, and he is already past Peters on his way to another sack.
In the final play, Clowney gets the sack, but Garrett causes everything to break down. He beats Peters again, who this time has Garrett's attention, but it does not matter. Peters is in a decent position to block him or at least run him upfield, but he attempts to punch too, and his hands appear to be too wide. The result is Garrett easily swats Peters hands away and runs past him to make first contact with Fields, ultimately resulting in him running into Clowney for a sack.
There are games when teams get high sack totals, and there is blame to go around due to backs or TEs getting beat or poor team blitz pickup. That was not the case in this game. The Bears offensive line played poorly, and it was primarily the play of potential future hall of famer Jason Peters that did the Bears in. When Peters was not getting physically outmatched by Garrett, it was mental errors that did him in. All seven of the sacks we examined were the fault of the offensive line, so that group has to take the brunt of the blame.
Patriots Run Struggles
Now let's pivot and take a look at the Patriots running game. In the play below, the offensive line does a good enough job to get some yards on this play but the FB, Jakob Johnson, does not do a good job on the lead block which results in a short gain.
In the next play, Jonnu Smith fails to sustain his outside block on Kaden Elliss, number 55 and that results in another short gain. David Andrews, the C, also fails to reach number 97, Malcolm Roach, who assisted on the tackle. Roach was lined up at DT in the playside A-gap, there is no reason he should have been in a position to help make a tackle that close to the sideline on that short of a gain.
In play three, Michael Onwenu is pulling and simply fails to make contact with CB Paulson Adebo, which results in another short gain.
In play four, Tanoh Kpassagnon, number 90 is highlighted instead of any Patriots because multiple Pats offensive linemen fail to block him, and he makes a tackle that stops the back for no gain. Both Isaiah Wynn and David Andrews pull left and attempt to block him, and neither is successful.
In the final play, the result is a one-yard loss primarily because Cameron Jordan, number 94, so easily sheds Smith. But, what a theme in the running game for the Pats offensive line in this game was a lack of physicality, and that was on full display as Onwenu was nearly knocked to the ground by Chancey Gardner-Johson, a safety he outweighs by over 100 pounds.
Overall, the Patriots struggles running the ball were not all the offensive lines fault as TEs and FBs also struggled to make blocks. However, there is no denying that the Pats offensive line is also not playing at the level they should be. They are not playing with the level of physicality many expected them to have, and worse, this unit is not executing at a high level.
Normally on Monday film room, we look at plays from multiple Sunday games. However, this week there was the football equivalent of a heavyweight title fight in the trenches, so today's Monday Film Room will exclusively break down the battle between Quenton Nelson and Aaron Donald.
Tale of the Tape
Nelson is the best guard in the NFL, and Donald is the best defensive tackle, so this was a marquee matchup. They lineup on each other or engaged 32 times in Sunday's contest, and Monday Film Room will look at 10 of those plays. It was difficult to determine a winner in this bout. Donald did not dominate Nelson, but Nelson also got help on many of his snaps vs. Donald.
The focus of this matchup is going to be on the one-on-one plays these two engaged in. However, early in the matchup, Donald was double-teamed by Nelson and Eric Fisher, and there was not much he could do. The audience should see what it is like the majority of snaps Donald takes, not just in this game, but in all games. He is such a great player that despite Nelson being the best guard in the NFL, the Colts scheme called for him to receive help on many plays.
The next play highlights a solo battle between them near the goal line. Nelson does a great job of neutralizing Donald with his power, and Donald is unable to have an impact on this play. But what is significant is how Nelson overpowers him at the end. Now, it is possible that Donald knew he was beaten, and the play was essentially over, so he stopped giving effort. But, we are not accustomed to Donald being put on his back with another offensive lineman on top of him.
In this third play, Donald gets the best of Nelson. It is a run play to the left, and Donald does a great job of first taking care of his gap responsibility, and then as the runner approaches the next gap over, he overpowers Donald to forcefully shed the block and get in on the tackle.
The fourth play shows Donald at his best in pass rush. He is a master at using his hands. Combine that with his incredible get-off and strength, and he is just too much for almost any guard one-on-one. Here, Donald sheds Nelson's block in about two seconds and forces Nelson to stumble and grab as he speeds by. The referees could have called holding on Nelson if they wanted to on that play.
The next play could be viewed as another Donald win but let's call it a draw. On one hand, Nelson never effectively anchors and stops Donald's forward momentum. On the other, Nelson did a good enough job holding up that Donald was not a threat to Wentz for at least four seconds, which is plenty of time on 1st & 10. Donald has an unbelievable motor, and it is on full display in this play. Many DTs matched up with Nelson on a play where he denies their initial rush would probably have stopped. Donald never did and ended up getting pressure on Wentz that forced him to throw the ball away.
On play six, Nelson wins. Results are a little skewed by Wentz quickly scrambling due to pressure from the right side, but on the left side, Nelson does a much better job of anchoring and stopping Donald's momentum.
Play seven is a run play in which to the layman's eye, might appear that Donald got the best of Nelson. However, Nelson definitely won this matchup. It is a run play to the left, and Donald has B-gap on that side. Nelson does a great job reaching Donald and with a quick display of his power, punches Donald to force him on an inside path that leaves him out of position and unable to make a tackle. Also, Donald's actions due to Nelson's block resulted in a huge running lane that Mack takes advantage of for a six-yard gain.
The next play is a pass play, and Nelson wins this one as well. Donald attempts to bull rush and overpower Nelson, and it is to no avail. This was one of Nelson's best pass pro snaps vs. Donald as it was completely one-on-one, and Donald does not disengage until after four seconds when the ball is long gone from Wentz's hands.
Play nine is a run play, and Donald gets the better of Nelson on this one. Donald does a great job of not going up the field and maintaining gap responsibility first. This is textbook NFL defensive line play, as Donald gets good arm extension inside of Nelson's pads to keep himself clean, maintains a position in which he can play his gap and see the ball carrier, and then sheds the block and pursues the ball carrier for a tackle.
The final play is a pass play late in the fourth quarter. Despite the negative outcome of Jacob Eason's interception, Nelson did a great job in pass pro. Donald attempts to beat Nelson with a speed rush, and Nelson gets into a great pass set and times his punch perfectly to negate Donald's swat move.
Donald had a great overall game, but he was much quieter when matched up against Nelson than anyone else on the Colts offensive line. The matchup did not disappoint, and neither dominated the other. However, based on all 32 snaps, OLS is declaring Nelson the winner in this one.
It was a jam-packed week one with many great options to look at for the Monday Film Room. However, when one man (Chandler Jones) can get five sacks in one game, that deserves a closer look by OLS. So first, we are going to highlight the pass blocking of Chandler Jones by the Titans. The most shocking result of week one was the Packers losing 38-3 to the Saints. Green Bay's offense was a disaster. So second, OLS will take a look to see what role the Packers offensive line played in such a putrid performance from what is supposed to be one of the best offenses in the NFL. Hours before Sunday's game, a player with very little football experience at any level (Jordan Mailata) signed a 4-year $64 million extension. He just started playing football three years ago, and only has 10 NFL starts, so OLS was looking at his week one performance closely. OLS will close the Monday Film Room with a review of Mailata's week one start.
While Titans LT Taylor Lewan took the blame for Jones's performance on Twitter after the game, there was plenty of blame to go around. The play below is Jones's second sack of the game and first against Lewan. In this play, Lewan's first mistake is overselling his role in this play-action play by attempting to give Jones an initial run block. He should be stepping forward to sell the PA pass, but lunging at Jones with his back over and head down is just bad technique, and Jones easily exposes it and beats Lewan in less than two seconds to make his way to Tannehill for an easy sack.
The next play is Jones's third sack of the day, and Lewan is the victim again. This time it is an obvious passing scenario with the Titans in Shotgun on 3rd & 9. Lewan is left one-on-one to deal with Jones in space, and though it is a tough assignment, these are the situations that teams pay top dollar to have a good LT for, and Lewan comes up short.
The next play takes place with a little over five minutes left in the third, and backup Kendall Lamm is in at LT. Lewan would return to the game, but in the meantime, Jones took advantage and recorded his fourth sack of the game on Lamm. Though Lamm will get credited for allowing the sack, the Titans coaching staff or Derrick Henry is most at blame here. Clearly, Jones is having one of those days, and now your backup is in to block him. Henry is lined up on that side and offers no help. He eventually goes out for a route, but the route is delayed, so he should have at least tried to chip Jones on the way out. That is either bad coaching or poor execution by Henry. Either way, Lamm should not have been left on an island with Jones on 3rd & 8.
Now let's focus on what went wrong in the Packers game. The main problem is that there was no running game from the beginning. The first play we look at from the Packers game is their first offensive snap, and it results in a one-yard loss. The play is designed to be a run to the right, but the offensive line of the Packers does not get a good push. There also are no open running lanes, which forces jones to cut back to where Mercedes Lewis is attempting to wall off Marcus Devenport. Once he cuts it back, Davenport easily sheds Lewis and makes the tackle for a loss. While Lewis gave up the tackle for loss, the Packers offensive line deserves blame for not giving Jones anywhere to run play-side. Lewis was not meant to be a primary blocker on this play, as he was only supposed to hinge and get in the way of Davenport.
In this next play, we see the indirect impact of Bakhtiari being out as rookie guard Royce Newman allows quick pressure from Cameron Jordan that leads to a crucial interception. If Bakhtiari was out there, Jenkins would be back at guard, and Newman would have been on the bench.
While the run game was never there and there were some mistakes in pass pro, the Packers offensive line did not do a terrible job in pass pro considering they were up against a good defense and forced to pass block all game. The biggest problem for the Packers passing game was simply the coverage of the Saints and the decision-making of Aaron Rodgers, who played an awful game. On the play below, Rodgers has a beautiful pocket to operate from. However, he just launches a prayer down the field to a WR that is not only well covered by the corner covering him, but also with a safety clearly over the top in position to help. The majority of the film from this game shows Rodgers played a lot worse than the O-line did.
Finally, we will take a look at a player that might be a future star LT in the NFL in Mailata. On this touchdown run he is the play-side tackle, and does an excellent job as a run blocker by sealing his guy and, helping spring this touchdown.
On this next play, Mailata's athleticism is on full display, as he crushed a defender in the open field with a block that helps spring the touchdown.
An area Mailata can improve in is his pass blocking. Specifically his ability to handle power rush moves. In the play below, he is easily over-powered, and it happened a few other times as well.