If you are like most fans and media, offensive line plan is a lot like the referees: You only notice them when they screw up. Unlike officials, we also notice really exciting play by the offensive line. Watching Wyatt Teller pancake block someone seven yards down the field, Joel Bitonio get out in front of a running back on a screen down the field or a late blitz pickup by Jack Conklin.
For the Cleveland Browns, there is a reason they signed Bill Callahan to a new contract after the New York Jets tried to interview him for their offensive coordinator position. The nuance of the offensive line is difficult to understand from the outside but highly respected around the league.
Callahan has done an amazing job over his career of taking players to the next level. Last year, Ethan Pocic was a great example. Pocic was signed later in free agency as almost an afterthought on a cheap deal. This offseason, after a season with Callahan and assistant coach Scott Peters, Pocic was considered the top center in free agency.
While fans will point out that Jedrick Wills hasn’t developed as a 10th overall pick should, expecting perfection from a coach’s players is unrealistic.
While processing what is going around the line of scrimmage on during a given play is difficult and nuanced, we are blessed with a chance to see some of the teaching that Cleveland’s offensive line coaches give. While we just see two (or more) guys physically matching up, the nuance in this video shows just the kind of decisions are being made in a split second:
The language may be foreign to most but all the technicalities give us insight into what goes into training camp and practices.
Cleveland’s offensive line is not only trained in the nuance of one on one blocking seen above but the scheme also requires amazing teamwork between the offensive line. In this video we see the first part of a block where the guard engages but is doing so to set up the center to take over the block:
Until late in the video, it looked like the center was coming on a pull block but the guard does a great job of keeping enough space on his block to allow the center to take it over.
These types of detailed videos always help our understanding of the game. While it does not provide any excuses for players, it does go to show that offensive line play is not just “block the guy” especially with “the guy” using all of his techniques not to allow that to happen.
Are you surprised by the nuanced details of offensive line play?