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Week 9 Pass Protection Review: part three - a more positive note

The final part of the Week 9 pass-pro review looks at some positive plays from Sunday, culminating in possibly the best single-play performance from a Bucaneers offensive lineman this season.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If part one of this pass-protection review was a mixture of good and bad, then part two was all bad. So, it's only fair we end on a positive note; here's an selection of all-good plays to share with you:



I've criticised Glennon for scrambling at the first sight of danger, but he did have one 'good' scramble, a scamper of 10 yards to pick up a first down. Here's how that play went down:



We have Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons trying to get around Demar Dotson and Donald Penn respectively, while Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel attack the outside shoulders of Davin Joseph and Joseph Meredith. Circled above, however, is Mike James, who is running up to chip on McDaniel.



Firstly, for a guy who I spent almost three thousand words beating up in part two, all credit to Joseph here; McDonald tried to use speed to get around him, but Joseph managed to come in and drive him out the way (which is why McDonald's lower half is bending slightly). On the other hand, though, Meredith appears to forget that James is merely chipping McDaniel, not blocking him fully on the play. OK, I lied when I said that this would be an selection of all good plays, but I gotta point out mistakes where I see them, right?



Well, Meredith decided to forget about McDaniel and go to help out Penn, despite the fact that Donald Penn clearly doesn't need help (but hey, that's alright, because Jeremy Zuttah's doing the exact same thing on the other side. Zuttah really needed to stay home in case Bobby Wagner was coming on a delayed blitz).

Still, luckily for Meredith, McDaniel is taken out of position due to him, um, wrapping Mike James up around the helmet. Not entirely sure that's legal.



However, by Zuttah and Meredith moving to help Joseph and Penn, and McDaniel taking himself out of the play by holding James, even though Wagner is clearly responsible in man-coverage for James, it leaves a nice big alley for Glennon to run through. It's the one positive scramble he had last week, but the OL did make it easy for him, and they deserve the credit for it.

Travelling Pocket

One thing I've seen the Bucs do on a rare occasion is have Glennon effectively 'rolling out' - except the entire pocket moves with him. I've heard it called a few names, but 'shifting pocket' seems to be the most popular. Personally, though, I prefer the term "travelling pocket", so that's what I've gone with.



I've drawn up everyone's assignments with a white line - Penn on McDonald, Joseph on Red Bryant, Dotson on Wagner, and Tim Wright on Bruce Irvin. The only non-sure assignment is for Meredith and Zuttah, who between them must be responsible for Brandon Mebane (who will shoot the weakside A, as shown by the yellow line) and K.J. Wright (who will hit the strongside A).

In a travelling pocket, the offensive mine need to keep moving while still forming the pocket. For the backside of the line (which on this play is the left of the line), this means back pedalling while remaining sound in your assignment.



That's not an easy task to do. By definition, the offensive line want to be solid - so to try and retreat backwards, when a well-placed punch can seriously shift your balance, is a very tough ask. You can above, Meredith's body is turned to face nobody in particular, not because of bad technique in this instance, but rather so that as he back pedals, his body will be turned towards Mebane, who you can see him staring at (and which I've illustrated with a yellow line).



You'll see in the light blue circle on the left that Meredith has managed to backpedal fast enough to get in position to set his feet before blocking Mebane. For all I criticised Meredith in part two, he absolutely deserves credit for a very difficult block here. Tim Wright, in the darker blue circle on the right, is attempting to get outside leverage on Irvin, as you can see by his glove on Irvin's outside hip (though pulling the jersey a little - lucky he lets go before it becomes obvious enough for the refs to flag). In the middle, Wright has looked at the strongside A-gap, but instead decides to loop further over to the B.



Unfortunately, by having to let go of Irvin's jersey, the linebacker now has the edge on the tight end, and has what appears to be an unrestricted path to the quarterback. Meanwhile, Dotson, who was checking Wagner, turns back to look at Wright coming round...



...and, instead of picking up Wright, decides to cut in front of Joseph and block Bryant. This is just a head-scratcher by Dotson; rather than having to pick up Wright, he takes the 'easier' block, and gives Davin Joseph a much tougher job of potentially having to block Wright. It shows some real poor awareness by Dotson - though he did at least give Red Bryant a decent wallop when he blocked him, so there's that. On the much more positive note, though, Tim Wright was beat - but he didn't give up. Unlike Joseph, Wright's footwork puts him position to recover the block, and when Irvin leaps for the bat-down, Wright actually pushes him upfield and out of the way. For a 220lb ex-receiver, it's a phenomenal show of hustle and effort, and shows again that the team hasn't given up like they did in 2011.

Speaking of which, here's probably the best 'effort' play from an offensive lineman last Sunday:

Zu Takes Two



Here we have Bruce Irvin rushing outside Dotson, Red Bryant rushing inside Dotson, Brandon Mebane rushing inside Meredith, and McDonald (at 3-tech) and Clemons (standing over Crabtree) both looping to the weakside A-gap.



You an see above that Mebane is really shooting the strongside A-gap, and Meredith isn't in the best of positions to help out because he has to deal with McDonald - that's nothing to blame Meredith for, that's just how the play works; congratulate the Seahawks defensive coaches for designing, and drilling into their players, a stunts that the OL get sucked in to. Except, of course, that they forgot to plan for Jeremy Zuttah.



Now, first I want to point out Irvin's rip move allowing him to completely breeze past Dotson with nary a hindrance. One thing I've noticed about Dotson is that when he's kick-sliding in pass-pro, his arc is generally pretty shallow. If he took a wider arc, he'd not only force defenders to take a longer path to the QB, but would also not allow his outside to be as easily attacked as Irvin does here.

But enough of that; on to Zuttah. See, Zuttah sees what's happening - and shoves Mebane hard so that Meredith has time to take over - I've circled Mebane's helmet poking out from under Meredith's arm.

Meanwhile, Zuttah has both McDonald and Clemons in front of him - Clemons is easier to see, but I've circled McDonald's helmet in front of Clemons so that you can see where the DT is.



There's McDonald's helmet again - on the floor. Yes, Zuttah went from shoving Mebane hard over to Meredith, straight to driving McDonald into the floor. Remember that Zuttah's necessarily the largest of interior linemen, and he's just manhandled to interior defensive linemen. But he's not done yet - notice where Zuttah is looking...



Yeah, all Zuttah does is follow up manhandling Mebane and driving McDonald into the ground by launching himself into Clemons' knees in a legal cut block. That's one Seahawks defensive lineman manhandled, followed by two taken out of the play, by Zuttah. He may have had mistakes, and his cockiness may have come back to bite him in the negative play we included in part one of the pass-pro review. But between his increasing direction and command of the offensive line, and the sheer effort as well as ability he displays on this single play, Zuttah is a player to be excited about.

Yes, the interior of the offensive line is week - but as we saw in part two, that comes from the guards. We need to find a replacement for Joseph, and find some kind of genie or witch to cure Nicks' MRSA, but at least at center, we appear to be set. And that's a good building block to start with on the O-line.