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The quarterback’s pocket takes center stage in Week 4 of our Big Blue Kool-Aid Rewind from the 2018 season: protecting the pocket, throwing from it, moving outside of it.
Newly acquired right guard Kevin Zeitler takes center stage with his Week 4 work for the Cleveland Browns against the Oakland Raiders, while Eli Manning and Daniel Jones both demonstrate how the QB can help his O-line and find the end zone from various spots.
Zeitler was one of the NFL’s top pass-blocking right guards last season, and his protection on this Baker Mayfield 49-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells shows why. Zeitler controls Raiders D-tackle and ex-Giant Johnathan Hankins (No. 90), preventing inside pressure so Mayfield has time to pump fake, turn, set and drive the ball up the middle to Fells.
Zeitler allowed only 11 pass pressures in 2018 compared to 39 total surrendered by all Giants right guards, per Pro Football Focus. Guards particularly matter when protecting a less mobile QB. Dave Gettleman’s hope is that Zeitler’s pass-blocking strength on the interior will consistently buy time for Manning, allowing more accurate and consistent throws downfield.
Zeitler victimizes Hankins in this highlight, as well, sealing the Raiders’ defensive tackle inside so rookie running back Nick Chubb can burst through a gaping hole and break a 63-yard TD run. The Browns lost this game but scored 42 points, with Zeitler a major factor in that output. The idea of Saquon Barkley getting similarly sized holes behind Zeitler is worth salivating over.
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